West Dyer Mtn - 13,047 feet
Dyer Mtn - 13,855 feet
Evans B, Mt - 13,577 feet
West Dyer Mtn - 13,047 feet
Dyer Mtn - 13,855 feet
Evans B, Mt - 13,577 feet
|West Dyer - Dyer traverse plus Evans B|
The West Dyer to Dyer ridge traverse was a lot of fun - pretty short yet still plenty of class 3, 4 and perhaps even a little class 5 available. I've seen this ridge described as either class 3 or 4 - I think you'd have to work at it and have good route finding skills at the top to keep it purely class 3 but it might be possible (I didn't try - I had too much fun making it hard). That's another way of saying this isn't a good beginner ridge for someone with no class 3 experience yet.
But since everyone has their own limits and even distinctions of class 3 vs 4 vs 5 are a bit blurry, I'll try to give a fair description so you can decide for yourself.
Route: Start a little short of the Iowa Gulch trailhead - up to saddle between the Dyer peaks - up to West Dyer - most of the way up the traverse to Dyer - divert to Evans B and back - finish the Dyer traverse - go back down the traverse.
Mileage: ~7mi*, Gain: 3,635ft gain, Total time: 8h 18min (lots of documenting and play time)
*Note the mileage includes the jaunt over to Evans B so this isn't just the ridge - which can be done in a mere 4.5 miles.
Rock Quality: Overall I'd say the rock quality on this ridge is generally very, very good - perhaps 95% of the rocks were basically stable - but don't let that 5% catch you off guard! Though fewer in number, the loose one are sometimes large and in critical spots. (Note: that 95% number will plummet if you go into the gullies I recommend avoiding..)
This ridge (at least with the route I took) was a notable step up over the likes of Kelso, Sawtooth and Quandary West Ridge (even trying hard to find challenging terrain on those I couldn't match what I found here). Even though it's short, I felt there was a greater quantity and variety of interesting moves, including a good chimney and an exceptional dihedral plus a few small slabs and several spots allowing for some limited crack climbing moves.
Another reference is the Tweto-Buckskin traverse (which I did this same weekend and will be posting a separate report on) that was described by some as a class 4 ridge but I felt you'd have to kind of go out of your way to make that one run class 4, as compared to this Dyer West Ridge which you would have to go out of your way to keep it from being considered class 4.
Lastly, for a comparison on the other end (and this will help define where my climbing skills are at the moment) I'd say this was definitely easier than when I tried to hold the ridge top on the second half of Ellingwood Ridge up La Plata (if you took the lower bypass around that second half of Ellingwood Ridge then you missed a lot of the action...). The route finding for Dyer West Ridge wasn't as challenging as the upper portions on the second half of Ellingwood but it was definitely a step up from the other routes just listed.
A few notes on the approach - there's only a slightly wide section in the road to park unless you go on down to the Iowa Gulch Trailhead, which could work fine especially if you go up Dyer West Ridge and come down the Southeast Slopes. That was my original intended descent but I decided the ridge was too fun and I needed a second pass to better document it.
I stayed high against the base of Dyer on the way up. I was trying, and mostly succeeded in not having to go up and then back down through the valley. On the way out I dropped down to the lakes. I might have been able to drop from there back to the road but on the way in it looked like there might be some small cliffs that way and I was ready to get home by that point. I'm guessing it might be some class 3 action or maybe even higher to drop right from the lakes to the road but there might have been an easy path.
West Dyer Ridge
West Dyer itself is mostly just a footnote for this trip - it gives you a good vantage point of the fun to come but itself was an underwhelming little class 2 peak. But as soon as you drop to the saddle and start heading up, the ridge starts showing some real character almost right away.
You'll encounter the chimney almost immediately above the saddle.
As chimneys go this one isn't huge or terribly difficult but it's worth making sure you don't miss. Yes, it's possible to bypass but I'd recommend not doing so for two reasons: 1) it's fun, 2) if you can't handle this chimney you might want to reconsider going on and instead loop around and do the Southeast Slopes up Dyer. This is not as complex/difficult as the famous Chimney on North Maroon (which itself I didn't think was too bad, though more intimidating than this one) so if you're not up for this first chimney then you might get in over your head on this route (and if you follow my variation there are much harder things to come).
So even though it's not super dramatic, I'm going to put a number of pictures in to help point it out from either direction because it's a great warm-up if you're coming up the route and the final bit of fun if you're coming down.
More Scrambling Fun
Some ridges give you one or two fun little moves like that chimney and then you're more or less done with the interesting stuff - not Dyer. There's plenty more crammed into this short little ridge. As typical, I stayed mostly to the ridge proper rather than diverting around to the side of interesting features.
One of the nice things about this ridge is that there are a lot of options - this little clump of towers offers multiple different lines of variable difficulty - making it a perfect spot for someone wanting to explore their climbing skills in a real world setting.
Cameras almost almost seem to exaggerate exposure - the downward looking photo below makes it look really steep and exposed at the base of the towers but the slope is actually very gentle at that point, so a fall here would be painful but not likely fatal.
So was that it? Nope, we're still just getting warmed up. Next up is a large hunk of rock where you can have fun seeing how close you can stay to its steep face, or maybe right up it.
Here and there are a few curious little features like the one below.
This is a random little feature that I marked with a waypoint, though the waypoint was in a different place when I came down vs up (my GPS was misbehaving some on this ridge) so it might be a mountain scavenger hunt to actually find it. I was shocked at how deep down the gap in the rocks at the bottom went - you can see waypoints for where I tracked the gap coming out 20 feet below (random curiosity on my way down).
The Scrambling Continues
As I mentioned before, the features just keep coming on this ridge. For the lower section you can typically divert around them if you want but up higher it will become harder to do so.
The Crack Step
In retrospect maybe I should have picked a different name for this, but I'm using the name I entered for my waypoint in case you want to seek this move out. On the way down I circled around and got a good side view of it. At 6'2" it wasn't hard for me to step over but was just barely enough of a gap to make me do a couple false starts before I finally committed to it.
These little steps are always a fun test of nerves.
The Upper Section
At this point you're nearly done distance wise but the hardest and best stuff is clumped in at this finale. You'll find you'll pretty much have to go up and down some of the features here to finish the ridge. There are a lot of really crappy gullies between the towers - I highly recommend staying out of the gullies and just going up and down over the towers (I started going down one of the gullies on the return trip because I was briefly disoriented and found myself sending a shower of rocks and dirt downward before coming back up).
This is the section where you'll find it the hardest to keep the ridge at class 3 (again I wasn't really trying to, so maybe someone looking for class 3 terrain might find an easier route, though it may send you into the crappy gullies).
The Crux: The Epic Ladder Wedge
Pardon the dramatized section header: I think "fun class 4 dihedral" would be a more official description for this feature but I'm again matching the name I used when I marked a waypoint so that you can find this feature if you so choose (I'm just starting to learn climbing lingo so feel free to correct me if "dihedral" isn't the right description here). Based on my recent inquires in the forum I'm calling this a good solid class 4 feature. It should be noted that there is an easy class 3 walk around for those not willing to risk this move (see pictures further below).
This was one of the most fun features I've yet found on any mountain. It probably ought to have a better name than this but I think it deserves a place in the 13er equivalent of such famous 14er features as the summit block of Sunlight, the chimney on North Maroon, Capitol's Knife Edge, etc.
Highly experienced climbers will probably be underwhelmed and stick this in the list of overhyped things on the forum but if you're used to mostly just strolling up the mountain this little feature is a real treat.
I don't recall encountering anything quite like this before - though perhaps in the past I would have walked by without considering trying to go up something like this - so excuse me while I ramble on excitedly about this really sweet feature - but first a couple pictures.
So what makes this feature so unique and sweet?
The slab: I don't recall noticing any slabs that are this large, this flat, this steep and this smooth/slick. I'm guessing it went on for a good 20 feet or so. I couldn't really get any traction on it with my boots - granted that's not saying much with the overdue-to-be-replaced boots that I had on that day but this is something you would almost need climbing shoes to go up it on it's own. That's where the next part comes in...
The half wall: The beauty of this feature is that this really steep and slippery slab has a perfect little half wall right next to it (maybe 3 feet or so tall). On that half wall are a series of stellar handholds/footholds (which contribute to me calling it class 4 instead of 5). The slab itself has almost nothing to serve as a hold except for every now and then a tiny horizontal crack or little divot.
Together this pair of features makes for a really fun challenge.
Exposure: there's probably a 6 foot stretch of rough rocks at the bottom of this wedge that are at a low enough angle that you might be able to stop yourself if you slipped. But if you pick up enough speed sliding down and overshoot that then you might find yourself tumbling down for a long, long ways.
I found myself using my arms way more than normal going up this feature, in part because I kept trying to see if I could get traction on the slab only to find my feet sliding uselessly about. A more experienced climber would have handled this much more smoothly and easily than I did but at no point did I feel like the difficulty was putting me in real danger - there was just enough potential risk to get my heart beating fast but the holds on the half wall were so robust that I was never seriously concerned. In fact, as the picture above shows, I found a solid enough spot to wedge in halfway up that I was willing to risk pulling out my camera for the photo you see of my leg partway up the dihedral.
It was at the top of this feature that I pulled out the snazzy little pulse oximeter I bought on a whim and found I was reading an oxygen saturation of 75% and pulse of 145bpm (thus inspiring my "Random health trivia" entry in the forum).
On the way down I had a little trouble finding this feature again (keep in mind I diverted to Evans before coming back) and briefly found myself going down one of those awful gullies, thinking going down then over was the way to go - don't do it...
Someone stuck a post in the ground that together with a large and somewhat unique rock makes a good marker for finding this really fun wedge. Use those two things as guideposts and you'll easily find it.
After climbing down the wedge (or taking the bypass) cut over sharply on the rocks towards one of the sloppy gullies. I recommend staying on the rocks next to the dirt as you go up then over the top of the gully and finally climb up next to this large diamond shaped rock shown below.
From the diamond shaped rock you'll look over the dirt gully and just barely be able to see the wedge. If you're on the way up, you can hop over the rocks or maybe need to drop down just a little to get to the base of the wedge.
Mt Evans B
Soon after this crux move, and still a little bit before getting all the way up to the summit of Dyer, you'll see the opportunity to drop down the sloping ridge to Mt Evans B. This is basically a class 2 stroll with a little bit of class 3 midway over that you might be able to skirt around if you wanted to.
Dyer Summit and Downclimb
In the photos above taken from the ridge to Evans B, you'll note 2 prominent humps on the ridge from the point where the Evans ridge joins up with it prior to reaching the summit of Dyer. Those two humps are shown below.
For the first of the two humps pictured above I had seen a trip report talking about how dramatic and exposed it was with insanely steep gullies on each side. Maybe I'm just desensitized at this point but, other than the opportunity for a fun little downclimb, there wasn't much to note here. On the left side it's very shallow and presents no significant risk. On the right side you have 10 to 20 feet of relatively shallow angle before it dives down into a steep gully. I was expecting something far more dramatic based on the description, but then that's what others might think of my "epic ladder wedge" - I guess different people are struck differently by various features.
As I said, at this point you can either take an easy class 2 stroll down the Southeast slopes of Dyer to the Iowa Gulch trailhead or go back down the ridge. I opted for the latter. I've already shown some images of the downclimb, I'll add a few more as reference points.
6:25am start (from a little ways short of the Iowa Gulch trailhead)
7:58am West Dyer summit
8:09am continue on
8:16am back at saddle
9:50am turnoff to Evans B
10:44am Evans B summit
11:20am head back to Dyer ridge
12:18pm regained Dyer ridge
12:42pm Dyer summit
1:10pm back down ridge
3:08pm Dyer saddle (after slow descent with time spent documenting and enjoying the features)
3:41pm continue after a break by the lakes
3:56pm back at the Jeep
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
|Comments or Questions|
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