Peak(s):  "Pk X"  -  13,085 feet
"Pk Z"  -  13,245 feet
Pk Y (12980)
Pk Z-Prime (12980)
Date Posted:  10/13/2020
Date Climbed:   09/27/2020
Author:  Jorts
 XYZ and me, the Warren to the G   

Access: Pitkin Creek TH

Start: 1235

Roundtrip Distance: 14.5mi

Elevation Gain: 7200ft

Duration: 6.5hr

Weather: 30-50F, winds calm to 30mph, partly cloudy

With winter looming, and months stacked on months of avalanche hazard to look forward to, decided one last high alpine hoorah with the Gore Dads was in order. But coordinating schedules with a bunch of fathers of youngins is tough! As a result we started this deep Gore mission with an alpine start of 1230. As in post meridiem, afternoon. We met at the Pitkin Creek TH. Figuring out clothing was a real issue. Mountain forecast was calling for a windchill of 10F over 13k and partly cloudy. We all decided to start in shorts and pack pants and wind shells. For a group used to going fast and light trying to stuff these extra clothes in our tiny vest packs was agonizing.

Eventually we started running. It was strange passing party after party along Pitkin; don't usually see a soul at our normal start time of 0500. With the sunshine and the autumn colors popping, the approach to Usable Pass was enjoyable. Guess this is what we've been missing.

Jon foregoing the power hiking I so desperately desired.
Approach to Usable

We hit the top of Usable greeted by 30mph wind gusts at 1425; threw on some extra layers and already it felt like we might end up racing the sun. After taking a quick look at the slabby climb to X', we decided just to bypass it and descend the east side of Usable before contouring over to the X-X' saddle. East Usable is short but loose and rotten.

Dan Descending Usable

The traverse beneath X' is just a series of grassy ledges. X is guarded by fun, stable 3rd class boulders and catwalks. We made short work of it summiting X at 1451.

The remainder of the traverse to Z and Z' is clear from X, and they didn't seem at all close. The down climb from X was climbers left and straightforward; regaining the ridge it goes direct to Y from there.

Corey and I descending X

Traversing to Y is a classic Gore ridge run. Exciting exposure but nothing that ever feels desperate with a stacked backdrop of obscure 13ers. We bypassed any difficulties to the west, but there were few. Summited Y at 1520. Found an entry in the summit register from July of this year, and then nothing prior until 2016.

Ridge run off X, Partners back right
Traversing from X
Jon, Dan and Corey ascending Y

We found a couple dead ends descending from the summit of Y. The NE ridge proper feels like it will go but we were turned back by cliffs. Common to the Gore, there's a NW bypass that weaves you around the cliffs and puts you back on the ridge.

Dan scrambling off Y with Z behind

I don't have a whole lot of memory of the rest of the traverse to Z. Everything started to flow from there. Just perfect 2nd-3rd class movement in late afternoon sun. Dan rushed ahead and we followed his lead, summiting Z at 1614.

Corey and Dan scrambling on Y's summit block

We took in the remote position: to the NE Bloodshaw, QRST to the NW across Slate Creek, X and Y behind, and Keller far across the Boulder Creek drainage to the SE. Z' just sticks out like an awkward appendage from the ridge begging to be summited, so despite the late hour we decided to hustle over. My research put it at 4th class but it didn't feel any more exposed or difficult than the main XYZ ridge.

LMNO from Z
Dan examining the soggy summit register on Z looking to the NW
Z prime with Keller behind

We summited Z' at 1643 about 4 hours after leaving the Pitkin TH. From there we didn't really have a plan for getting back. I had mapped the route just descending from the summit of Z' down to the Boulder drainage direct, but the talus looked like a buzzkill. We decided to backtrack to the Z-Z' saddle and descend into upper Boulder Creek from there. It was a good choice. Just a long, steep but painless descent on grass.

Grays and Torreys
Valhalla and Snow behind?

The upper lakes provide a convenient spot to restock water supplies. The light was approaching golden hour and kept us in high spirits back over Usable. We casually descended Pitkin despite the growing darkness arriving back at our vehicles at 1913 for a roundtrip time of 6:38.

Keller's ridgeline

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

Comments or Questions

10/13/2020 21:02
Thanks for posting. Enjoyed your report about these lesser known peaks!! Great pics of the climbing on those ridges!!


10/14/2020 11:22
You continue to amaze with your speed on rugged terrain. Who needs an alpine start when the weather is good and you move fast?

gore galore
Phenomenal Time
10/14/2020 13:39
Of 6.5 hours roundtrip for those peaks by Gore Dads. As a Gore Senior I can make Useable Pass in 5-6 hours from the trail head but I usually stop short and camp in the grove of trees in Photo #2 when climbing in this area.


Thanks all
10/14/2020 14:16
For the kind words. Grateful for this backyard.


10/15/2020 14:57
What gorgeous peaks! Looked like some fun climbing! Thanks for the report! Great photos.


Nice pics
10/15/2020 21:30
Looks like some fun sections up there!

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