Peak(s):  Storm King Pk  -  13,752 feet
Silex, Mt  -  13,628 feet
Guardian, The  -  13,617 feet
Date Posted:  09/21/2021
Modified:  09/28/2021
Date Climbed:   09/08/2021
Author:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   14erAddict, Tomalamo, Tony1, RyGuy
 Touching the heart of the Wemi   

Storm King, Silex and The Guardian

  • Total mileage: 20
  • Total Elevation gain: 9,112'
  • Trailhead: Beartown (HC 4WD)
  • Partners: Ryan, Tony, Taylor, Nicole
  • Class: 3

Way back at the start of summer, Taylor started pressing us on organizing this trip into Beartown. Back before the smoke, monsoons deluge induced mud slides and when summer held actual promise. Thankfully this trip wasn't sacrificed to the weather gods and we had absolutely perfect weather for the entire trip!

Day 1: Pack into Camp + Storm King Peak

  • Mileage: 9.12
  • Elevation gain: 3,770'
  • Class: 3

After an uneventful drive into the camp I used before (minus one 10' rocky section) the night before, we jumped into Ryan's Jeep and Tony's new Toyota to drive the remainder up to the trailhead after finishing packing our overnight packs. Let's just say the road has deteriorated significantly since I was last here in 2018, and neither driver was amused. Neither driver wanted to drive back up here for the day hike on Day 4. I personally loved the unamused look Tony gave me when I slyly suggested it.The Texas wheelchairs are tearing up the road and quickly ruining it. 3 years ago, there were a handful of people in the area. Now, there's a steady stream of flag waving out-of-staters all day long creating a dust plume.

After setting up marmot guards on both vehicles, we started up the trail with Taylor providing all the stoke for the heavy backpack in. It was nice to see the trail in daylight, and we made quick work up to Hunchback pass for our first break of the day.

21400_01
Nicole descending off the pass

Taylor kept the descent down to Trinity Creek entertaining with a riddle. It kept us engineers and literals entertained in the wrong direction for hours. Meanwhile I had an LL Cool J song in my head in response. Don't ask. We also enjoyed the view of our peaks as we descended, which proved to be very important for the next days route choices. Why one should always take photos of peaks from various angles. It proved to be good beta.

We descended the trail to just above the Valecito - Trinity creek juncture and crossed by the waterfall. Tony and I went above it, the others below. From there it was following the game trail turned climber trail (with cairns) all the way to our campsite. Well, almost. Taylor and Ryan descended closer to the creek, while Nicole, Tony and I were on the trail. We yelled down multiple times that we were on the trail. The "trail" is faint in spots, and can get lost when there's deadfall, but one just needs to keep the eyes open to find it again. It made for a fairly easy stroll.

We had debated where to put camp. One was at Lake Silex, another was below the steep slope up to the lake. But when we saw a nice open meadow that was obviously a frequently occupied camp site, most of us were sold. After going up to Lake Silex, our campsite was definitely The Spot.

Ryan approaching the meadow, Storm King above


21400_14
Camping meadow

Our plan was to set up camp, and then go summit something, anything. My bivy was up and ready in about 20minutes. Then we dealt with filtering water. Both Taylor and my Steripen failed. Failed. New batteries didn't work, still fail. So now all of us were waiting on Tony's Sawyer Squeeze. This took a lot of time. So our summit start was delayed by an hour an a half.

We had toyed with doing Peak 2&3 or Peak 7 or Storm King. We started up the steep grassy slope enroute to Lake Silex with Peak 7 on our minds. When we got to the saddle with Storm King after tedious and slow steep talus, we ran the numbers, and decided that going for a high value target like Storm King was the best decision.

21400_02
A mini tundra reprieve from the tedious talus enroute to saddle around the corner to the right. Peak 9 looms above
21400_03
Trinities from saddle


21400_04
Storm Peak south ridge scramble

The first part of the ascent up the south ridge was fun blocky scrambling and class 2+ terrain. Quite enjoyable.

21400_05
Blocky scrambling


21400_06
Tony by a cairn on the scramble

But the nice terrain would soon end. The last bit of the route up to the summit ridge is loose and nasty. We mostly hugged the far right all the way around, to keep one side on the solid rock, then curved back to the west, staying below the rock above. You want to aim for the notch that's visible above Nicole and Ryan's head in the below photo. That's where you access the summit ridge.

21400_07
The group scoping the loose gully
21400_08
Optional scrambling high above the loose class 2 gully to stay solid

Once we accessed the summit ridge, it was a short stroll to the summit. Yay! First new Wemi summit in a year!

21400_09
Tony approaching the summit


21400_13
Summit group selfie


21400_15
Storm King Pano

We enjoyed the summit for as long as we could, but we knew that it was late in the afternoon, and we had to get back down to camp before it got too dark.

Going back down the summit ridge, I view the sucky class 2 gully. Sooo slow to move on that crap. We all did our best to spread out and not let loose any rocks.

21400_10
Looking down the loose gully, and finding our ascent on the solid rock on the rib below
21400_11
Ridge descent to notch

After we all got back down to the solid rock, we could all breathe a little easier. The worst of the high nasty was over.

Ryan hanging out by the transition from scree to solid

Another short break by the saddle, where we discussed the shitty gully up to Mt Silex from the west. NO ONE wanted to do this route. It looked horrid, loose and steep.

21400_12
NOPE, NOPE.... more NOPE (Scree gully up to western saddle with Mt Silex)

From this point forward, all of us were thinking of other options to get the next 2 peaks.

Sun is setting on backpack day 1, with camp still far below

We made it back to our camp before dark, but the water filtering went well into the dark hours. At least my dinner didn't require water. So I squeezed water after I had eaten, so the group could eat. We all took our turn filtering for the group. So much squeezing.

From there, we all settled into an eventful night of sleep, me in my new bivy for the first night ever.

Day 2: Mt Silex and The Guardian

  • Mileage: 6.03
  • Elevation gain: 3,447'
  • Route: East Bowl to saddle NEW ???
  • Class: 3

After seeing that nasty steep scree gully up to Mt Silex, we spent some time looking for beta on ascending the peaks from the east. We knew a group had descended that way, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it's an easier way, or that it doesn't involve some class 5ish terrain. So we all agreed to make the attempt, with the possibility that we would get stumped and have a zero summit day. We did decide that we wanted to start just after sunrise, so that we would have good eyes on the approach route finding.

We had the perfect campsite for this route, as all we had to do was cross the stream at our water filtering spot on a fallen log. From there it was easy travel on and off game trails below the rocky mound that we had spotted from the descent from Hunchback pass on our approach to camp. We contoured around this rocky mound till we got into the east bowl.

21400_16
Easy grassy travel around the rocky mound to the east
21400_17
Nice light as we traverse around and into the bowl


Game trail travel into the bowl, while The Guardian looms above

Once we end around the rocky bulge, we get a closer view of our route which will zig zag up the bowl on grassy ledges and over talus to go up rocky ledges and more talus to the saddle between Silex and The Guardian.

21400_18
Entering the east bowl, Silex on the right
21400_19
View from rocky rib and the East Bowl, Silex above

From the rocky rib, we followed the grassy valley up to the far right corner below the east ridge of Silex. From there we followed the obvious game trail as it zig zagged up the grassy ledges up to the next level. The ledges are just to the left of the first talus field that looks a bit like a bowtie on the above photo on the right.

21400_20
Approaching the grassy ledges next to the lower talus field


21400_21
Nicole starting up the first ledge zig zag
21400_22
Second grassy ledge
21400_23
Looking down on Tony once above the grassy ledges.


Above the grassy ledges, is a large talus field that Ryan went straight across. The rest of us went further to the left/south and saved our ankles. We hit the next set of grassy ledges as it met the talus on the left side of the below photo.

21400_24
Talus field above first grassy ledges
21400_25
Second set of grassy ledges

We zagged back to the right/north along the grassy ledge to get to an area with some minor scrambling up to the left on rocky ledges. There was another route up some mossy ledges, but it looked more involved with bushes and wetness.

21400_26
Mossy ledges didn't win on the route choice.
21400_27
Ryan with rocky ledges above, where we zagged to the left


21400_28
Scrambling up the ledges to the left
21400_29
Talus field #2. Saddle above center

Above the rocky ledges, was another talus field that ended with some solid rock up to the saddle between Silex and the Guardian.

We took a nice break on the saddle, enjoying the views.

Nice light on Jagged

From the saddle, the ledge trail system over to Silex, is just a wee bit below the saddle. The route has a few cairns, but the route to Silex was on fairly wide ledges and we were quickly below the summit area.

21400_30
Ledges to Silex
21400_31
Looking back to the saddle on the ledge traverse

When we got below the summit area, we saw a loose class 2 gully to the left, but most of us stuck to the more solid scramble on the right.

21400_32
Last bit of the traverse to Silex
21400_33
Looking up on the scramble section


21400_34
Loose class 2 gully we avoided on the left

We celebrated the first summit of the day, but couldn't stay too long, since the traverse to The Guardian was much longer and more involved.

21400_35
Silex summit group shot


21400_48
Silex pano 1


21400_49
Silex pano 2

From the summit, we dropped back to the solid scramble area.

21400_36
Tony on the solid scramble, with Vallecito Valley below

We went back up to the saddle to scout the route a bit, but Taylor couldn't see much from above. Tony and I had spotted a cairn at the saddle, so we went down to that spot. From there it was hop scotching from one cairn to another. This route is VERY well cairned. There are options in spots, but right at the saddle, the route gets very narrow and exposed, so we took our time with the route finding.

21400_37
Scouting the route through the narrow exposed section. Ryan at the crux, Tony on lead further on the ledge.
21400_38
More ledges
21400_39
Looking back towards the saddle from an obvious cairn


Nicole and Taylor in a fun scramble section


Summer flowers hanging on up high

After the ascending traverse, we found the rocky gully/ridge before the loose gully below the summit. Blocky and rather solid up the the class 2 summit ridge

21400_40
The blocky gully to summit ridge
21400_41
Summit ridge above the scrambling


21400_42
Our favorite summit


21400_50
Guardian summit pano

Sad to leave the summit with the amazing views all around, but we had to get back down to camp, before dark - again.

21400_43
Summit ridge, with descent to the left

Once back down to the ledges. We made much faster time back to the saddle, as we knew all we had to do was spot the next cairn and go!

21400_44
Below the summit gully, looking at the traverse to saddle
21400_45
Rollin on the traverse


21400_46
Wide ledge with the obvious cairn by Ryan


21400_47
Almost back to the narrow exposed section right before the saddle.


After another nice break at the saddle, we reversed our zig zag route down through the ledges and talus quickly. We turned the corner around the rocky mound as the sun was getting low, and the long shadows made everything interesting.

Game trail traverse back to camp

After zombie walking the last section back into camp, we got to eat dinner and filter water before we lost the light. Enough light to watch as 4 deer approached our camp - their usual nap spot, and entertain us. Scare us too. Since I was in a bivy and not a tent, a deer stepping on me or cuddling with me during the night, was a higher probability or problem. So when a deer got within a foot of me in the pitch black, I let out a series of octave screams that amused the group. Well the aversion therapy worked, I was able to fall asleep without a deer close by. I figure they eventually walked past me, but they didn't step on me.


Day 3: Pack out of Camp

  • Mileage: 4.85
  • Elevation gain: 1,895'
Sunrise over camp with Alpenglow on Storm King

I was the first out of my bivy in the morning, since the aspen glow was on point! We slowly ate breakfast and broke camp. We had a long trek uphill to the pass today with a heavy pack, so we delayed that as long as we could, knowing it would get hot soon enough.

The deer surrounding us in the high grasses also woke up and wandered around us.

What's Taylor taking a photo of?


How the deer pee

Once on the trail with the heavy packs, we made quick work of the game/climbers trail back to the main trail and the waterfall intersection.


Waterfall


Taylor with the waterfall


Tony strutting in front of the waterfall


Trail discussion and stretch session


It's still summer, barely


On the hike back out, we took time to look back on the route up the East Bowl and snap some zoom shots of the route


The Guardian, Silex and Storm King with Pk 9 taunting us


East Bowl zoom


East Bowl route overview


It was a hot slow ascent up to the pass, at least the riddle today from Taylor was much easier. We dropped back down to the vehicles and drove back to camp to relax for the afternoon, playing cards and having cold beverages and eating ALL the food.


The Poles in the distance


Kite Lake in bowl above Ryan


Before and after. Has the stoke or sass level changed?
  • Day 0: Canby Mtn
  • Day 1-3: Storm King, Mt Silex, The Guardian
  • Day 4: Nebo group (Boyz did Hunchback, White Dome, Peak 1)
  • Day 5: Stoney Pass Peak or Yoga (I let the young people run up a repeat for me)

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50


Comments or Questions
Tomalamo
User
Summit Photo
09/21/2021 15:06
I guess no one told me we were doing a group photo on Storm King, cool guys.


Jay521
User
As always...
09/22/2021 06:41
... great pics and narrative, Otina.


seano
"a group"?
09/24/2021 05:10
Good to see the game trail to the Silex-Guardian saddle worked for you. I agree that Silex Lake should be enjoyed only from a distance. Who wants to camp in a north-facing bowl of loose talus, or wallow up a loose chute? Much better to do the peaks separately, or traverse around over Peak 9.


Boggy B
User
Neat
09/24/2021 14:13
route for that pair. It looks much nicer than the gully route, which sucks mildly but isn't half as bad as it appears head-on from across the way.
I will say that sleeping (in the one decent site) at the mouth of Lake Silex is a worthy experience though concerning when you consider where all the rock shed by the W face of Silex ends up.


bergsteigen
User
Thanks!
09/27/2021 11:33
Taylor - ‘We TriedĚ to get your attention, you were mesmerized.

seano- Sometimes those game trails in the SJ‘s are darn brilliant! Since I haven‘t done much in the heart of the Wemi, I haven‘t gotten eyes on some of the peaks and routes yet, so planning can be more adventurous. Saving the best for last

Boggy - You have much younger knees than me ;) While scree chutes definitely look more intense head-on, it just wasn‘t going to be a good idea with a group of 5. As to camping by the lake - geologic time is now.



   Not registered?


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: 14ers.com supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.




© 2021 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.