Peak(s):  PT 13,085  -  13,085 feet
PT 13,100 A  -  13,100 feet
Date Posted:  10/14/2021
Date Climbed:   09/13/2021
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   kristihen
 Fairview lake 13ers   

2 HCW ranked 13ers

Date: 09.13.21

Trailhead: Woods lake
~12 miles, ~5,200 ft, ~12 hours

After hiking Gold Dust & Pika in the summer of 2018, I was expecting to get to this group of 13ers the following summer. However, the spring of 2019 created serious avalanche conditions and subsequent avalanche debris. More significantly, the Sylvan State park road was closed for repaving most of the summer. 2020 rolled in and it was almost non-stop heavy smoke throughout the summer, and I wanted to see the pretty views. Moreover, the reports of the avalanche debris devastation were trickling in. With other Sawatch 13ers with easier access on the radar, I let another year slip by. Early on in this summer hiking season, I made the list of my remaining Sawatch 13rs (less than 20) and the Fairview lake 13ers were high on the list. However, by mid-June, the Sylvan state park was engulfed in a wildfire and the road was again closed (the fire mitigation HQ was based in the state park). I kept ticking off other peaks throughout the summer, while keeping an eye on the wildfire situation. However, several seasons of waiting allowed time for more research and I came to realize that the Lime Creek canyon sport climbing area was nearby. Eureka! Maybe with some planning and luck I could combine 2 of my favorite activities - climbing and hiking? I kept sending some feelers and invites, the weekend was picked well in advance and we just kept fingers crossed for the weather. Kristi was going to join me for both climbing and hiking, while other friends were mostly for the climbing part :)

Kristi climbing
Brittany belaying me with the 13ers in the background

The day of climbing at Lime Creek was a resounding success with pretty fall colors, and after saying good-byes to our friends, Kristi and I relocated less than a mile to the Woods lake. The map showed a good road continuing for at least another mile, so we were surprised to find the gate blocking the private property. Oh well, ads just a few more miles to the roundtrip. After nice dinner (but skipping the campfire this time) we settled in for a night with a reasonable departure time of 7am.

The trail to the Eagle lake is mostly good shape (although we briefly lost it just before the lake due to the deadfall), but after the lake the avalanche debris commenced. We didn't see a good way up from the Eagle lake, so we kept going to the Fairview lake. Besides, I also hoped our ascent route will maximize scrambling opportunities, and it's indeed turned out to be the case.

Eagle lake
Kristi finds a good path

The trail was essentially obliterated by the avalanche debris, so our strategy was to stay high on the left side of the basin, scout the route and pick the easiest path through. On a few occasions, we stayed a bit too high and were forced to downclimb. We even found faint segments of the newly forming trail and sporadic cairns. It wasn't easy and the going was slow and tedious, but couple hours behind schedule we finally reached the Fairview lake. Whew!

12er Avalanche peak towering above the Fairview lake

I realized later that most people picked the ascent gully just to the left of ours, but I didn't want to deal with talus, the contour lines looked good and it was the most direct line to the summit. I was actually hoping for a nice rib scramble, but the gully had to do. It wasn't very sustained, but there were definitely sections of class 4 and maybe even easy 5, and the rock quality was good.

Kristi starting up the gully

Couple fun moves
Kristi is a 5.10 climber, so she made everything look very smooth and easy :)

At about the midpoint of the gully, I went straight through some really solid low 5 scrambling, while Kristi found a class 4 bypass. In the upper 3rd of the gully, the scrambling became more sustained, with the hardest moves right below the summit. But the scrambling was consistent, slightly easier and a great warm up for the ridge traverse. About 2 hours after leaving the lake, we got to the summit. There looked to be 2 summit bumps of the same height without an obvious summit cairn, so we tagged both and took a lengthy lunch break. The traverse looked pretty exciting.

More sustained scrambling in the upper gully
Boulder problem

Scramble below the summit
Krtisti hikes the ridge between 1st and 2nd summits

Starting the traverse


Great rock quality

Traverse is difficult to describe. I remember skirting the very first tower to our left, but staying ridge proper for the rest of the route. A couple of small ridge sections were bypassed on the left or right. More than a few times we thought we were done with difficulties only to stumble across another notch and a class 4 downclimb.

Scouting the options

Midpoint, where we thought we are out of the woods. Ha!

Headwall downclimb
Class 4 headwall

Downclimb into the notch
Final tower before the notch was bypassed on the lookers right via
some class 3-4 shenanigans

Looking back at the very fun traverse

View in the direction of Gold Dust and Pika

The traverse took us about 2 hours, and after a brief summit stay, we were eager to head back. We did the descending traverse towards unranked Eagle on talus, and then were able to cut into a grassy gully.

Descent with Eagle lake below

In our hurry to get down, we didn't necessarily picked the best route below 10,600 ft, running into some steep terrain, but managed to find the main trail around 5.30 pm. With Kristi setting a blistering pace, we arrived back at the cars 1.30 hours later. If it weren't for the lengthy drive, navigating avalanche debris and a tedious descent, this 13er duo would be on the list of my favorite Sawatch scrambles. Thanks for reading!

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

Comments or Questions
10/18/2021 11:21
Amazing pictures!!!!!

Great report!
10/25/2021 07:14
Didn‘t realize that area had potential for such a great combo of days! Impressive climbing and awesome write up

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