Peak(s):  "Citadel, The"  -  13,294 feet
Pettingell Pk  -  13,553 feet
Date Posted:  07/28/2008
Modified:  07/29/2008
Date Climbed:   07/27/2008
Author:  roozers42
 "The Citadel" to Pettingell Traverse  

"The Citadel" (13,294) and Pettingell (13,553)
9.5 miles, 3800 feet from Herman Gulch TH
Participants - Jen and Scott

I was pleasantly surprised by the weather forecast for Sunday when I was looking for something challenging and close to home for us to hike. I remembered a great trip report from SarahT a while ago about the traverse from "The Citadel" to Pettingell, two peaks I'd been wanting to climb in the Front Range. I handed Scott Cooper's Colorado Scrambles book to take a look and we decided to go for it. At the time of Sarah's report, this climb was way out of my league and I didn't think I'd ever be doing it. First of all, I had just started climbing some class 3 routes and secondly, I didn't have any climbing gear or the vaguest notion of how to use it. Fast forward two years and it's something Scott and I are able to take on ourselves!

"The Citadel" from the Herman Gulch Trail and a look at the traverse

We took off from the Herman Gulch trailhead followed the huge trail all the way to Herman Lake. Cooper suggests leaving the trail earlier, but we decided to stay high and avoid any wetness down in the basin. This worked great although it probably added some time and mileage.

Flowers on the way to The Citadel

We headed up grassy slopes and hit a nice trail that leads to the saddle between Mt. Bethel and The Citadel. From here, we walked up grassy slopes until a snow slope and mountain goats blocked our path. The snow wasn't going to be a problem, but we approached the goats with caution and waited until they moved on.

Approaching the summit block

Once at the summit block, we went left and ascended a loose gully, me inside the gully, Scott being a bit more creative. I think I'd do an alternative route next time because this gully was not fun, just loose and annoying.

Once on the summit, we took a look at the weather and decided that it was holding nicely and that we'd go for the traverse. Honestly, I thought the worst part of the ridge was the very beginning. It's super airy and had my full attention. There were some tricky downclimbs and at one point we were maybe 20 feet below the ridge crest on the west side.

Pictures of the traverse

The hardest section of the traverse is a 5.4 downclimb that Cooper suggests rappelling. The rappel point was obvious as there were numerous slings around huge boulders. We inspected the slings, cut a bunch of stuff off, and retied our own anchors.

Inspecting the boulder and the gear that was left

Our anchor was a ways up from the start of the downclimb and our 40 meter rope reached perfectly. It took a little while to set up our anchor, and we were glad the weather was still holding in our favor. The rappel was very fun, and there were beautiful purple flowers in the rock to look at on the way down.

Scott on rappel
Looking up from the bottom
The crux downclimb

After the rappel, the ridge eased up in difficulty, except for one 4th class move that we probably could have avoided by looking around.

Looking back at the traverse
Looking forward to Pettingell

The walk to Pettingell went quickly and after a short summit stay, we decided to descend the east ridge. The ridge was quite fun and the drop-offs on the north side were amazing. After a little scrambling, we noticed a mountain goat following us on the ridge crest. He wasn't making any aggressive moves towards us, but he started getting too close for comfort and we obviously weren't going to outrun a mountain goat.

Scott threw a couple of warning rocks in his direction which scared him off down the slope. Okay then, off we go! We made our way down the ridge a bit more and then discovered why the goat had been following us so closely - a mom and baby goat were directly on the ridge crest about 100 yards away.

We knew we couldn't disturb the goats and decided to call it quits on the ridge and just descend the south slopes to Herman Lake. This entailed lots of scree-skiing in trail runners - not my favorite thing in the world, but it worked. We headed toward a small snow slope to cut out some of the talus-hopping, and then headed down to the lake. We took a short break and made pretty good time back to the TH.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
dave alex

good job Jen
02/05/2011 00:22
Congrats on a great climb and nice description of hte route.


Nice one Jen!
07/28/2008 23:01
Wow, you guys had a MUCH nicer day than we did for this climb! It rained all day for us, making that downclimbing you mention close to the Citadel very slippery and interesting. Reading your report makes me want to go back so I can enjoy it more! Sounds like you had some cool encounters with the goats! I especially like that pic of them lounging around on the snow.

I know what you mean about reading TRs and thinking ”wow, that‘s cool but its out of my league and I‘ll never do it”. Then a year or two later you‘re doing it. Its happened to me again and again!


11/30/2010 17:28
Dave - Thanks! It really was a great climb and we had a blast.

Sarah - I didn't remember you did the traverse in the rain until I looked it up a couple days ago. Yuck! It was fine in dry conditions, but I was really glad the sky didn't open up on us when we were up there! Most of the ridge didn't bother me, but right off the summit it was a bit unnerving - usually "just don't look down" helps, but not as much when everything is a downclimb. I think this climb really solidified in my mind how much I've learned in the past couple years - I never would have thought I'd be comfortable setting up rappels and exposed scrambling, but now it's really fun!


Great Info!
07/29/2008 02:41
Thanks for the great info and pics! Hoping to do this one in the near future.


Fun Times
08/01/2008 19:19
Hi guys! Long time no see. Hope you‘re doing well. Looks like a fun day. Lets get out again. I miss you 2.


Rappel on Traverse
06/02/2013 11:14
Enjoyed your description of the route & your encounter with the goats. What is the distance of the rappel?

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