Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  06/29/2009
Date Climbed:   06/27/2009
Author:  fleetmack

 Yale is Snow Free!  

Mt. Yale
Summit Elevation - 14,196
Elevation Gain: 4300
Trip Distance: 8.75 miles
Total Round-Trip Climb Time (including about 45 minutes of rest and summit time): 7:00
4WD Required: no, paved all the way to the trailhead
Exhaustion Factor (on scale of 1-10): 5
Scenery Factor (on scale of 1-10): 6.5

I woke up in Breckenridge at 4:00am and headed to Friso to meet Samantha in the Safeway parking lot. She and I arrived minutes apart at about 4:30 and she hopped in. We hopped on I70W and about 2 minutes into it I had my first scare of the day. Driving about 70mph, I see headlights coming towards me ... in my lane ... on the interstate. I swerved to the right onto the shoulder to avoid this mad man and immediately called 911 to report someone at mile marker 201 driving the wrong way on the interstate.

So, after that disasterpiece (yes, that's a Slipknot reference), we headed onto HWY 24 via the Copper exit, where we proceeded to drive approx. 40mph after passing 3 groups of deer in the first 10 miles. This would impact our start time, but not dramatically. Any-who, travel on HWY 24 to Buena Vista and hang a righty-tighty on county road 306. Easy road, my 2wd Accord made it with no issues. It's paved. Anyways, 12ish miles in, you see the Denny Creek trailhead. There was a few spots left and several people gearing up. We did the same gearing up and got on the trail at 6:33am.

The first mile is quite simple, but at approx. 1 mile, you meet a fork in the road. There is a stream crossing that looks unpassable (well, it does now with the water as high as it is) but if you go about 10 yards up from the trail, there is a tree bridge, albeit a very slippery-when-wet tree-bridge. Be careful. Shortly after there is a fork in the road. The sign is clearly visible in the daylight and instructs you to hang a right in an effort to summit Mt. Yale. We turned right. The trail is pretty steep but easy to follow. Plenty of little stream crossings and such. Once you get above timberline, there are some really funky trees that are funky, hence the adjective I used in this sentence.

We stopped for a snack and Samantha, God bless her, brought something I hadn't eaten since the a al carte food items at Kuemper Catholic High School in Carroll, Iowa in 1997 -- Fruit By The Foot!! I discovered it's even tastier if you roll a cheeto inside of it.

As aforermentioned, the climb is steep but relatively uneventful. There were several clouds in the sky but none looked threatening.

There were plenty of people and dogs on the trail (even a chihuahua!), all of whom agreed with us that we were out of shape this early in the season. I mean come on, I've ridden a century ride and run a half marathon recently, why is this so tricky (to rock a rhyme, that's right on time)?! Anyways, we kept on truckin' and reached the top of the steep trail area and got to the bottom of the scrambling area, I'd guess 500 feet from the summit.

We lost the cairns at this point and made our own route. The rocks had some black ice on them so you need to be very sure of your steps or you can loose your footing. We made the "mistake" of going to the left of the entire section of rocks and had to make a class 3 move from a snow-covered section. Once that was done we discovered the route was more to the west side of the rocks instead of the east.

This made the climb to the summit much more simplistic. We summited about 10:15am.

There were about 10 people on the summit. Saw a fun group of 5 people posing making the word "Yale" in a YMCA style, it was pretty amusing. There was a skier atop the mountain who descended about 300' down the east side, but that was about all the snow that remained. We stayed on the summit about 20 minutes and got down, was getting a bit chilly and a bit cloudy (and looked quite stormy to the south). I tried out my underwater camera from a stream

The descent went quickly, nobody passed us besides a guy who was running the summit with his dog. He must have made excellent time, those guys always impress me! Anyways, uneventful climb down, gorgeous weather, no rain, no bugs, no snow, clear and easy-to-find trail, lots of stream crossings. This is just an all-around excellent mountain to choose as your first 14er of the year. Note to self, even if all your skin is covered, remember to put sunscreen on your neck.

Happy trails!


 Comments or Questions
Tory Wells

Nice to see.......
09/03/2011 14:45
you got your grill put back in order after your bike crash, but that Cheeto/Fruit concoction is just plain nasty! Defiler!

Wish I lived in CO

06/29/2009 17:22
Yeh, learned that the hard way last year. It was a real pain in the neck


Fruit by the foot.
06/29/2009 19:14
Awww fruit by the foot. I miss that stuff. Nice Avatar. My buddy wanted to naked slide on the summit of lindsey in the snow drift, but I advised him otherwise. I think he was only kidding, but I wouldn‘t put it past him.


Good Day for a Summit
06/29/2009 19:20
Saw you up there. Wife and I were hiking with our Rottweiler mix.

Holy crap, I was all worked up about our getting to the trailhead story about a bear crossing 285 right in front of us (towards West from Salida dump). You got me there, just as you do with hiking speed!


06/29/2009 19:36
... are you the one who heard us talking about the turtle on the leash?

yup! the grill is back in effect, i can eat again and show them pearly whites .... even the fake ones

as for cheetos and fruit by the foot ... just tell me ... is there anything that HASN‘T tasted good at 13K+ feet? It doesn‘t sound appealing now that I‘m back here sitting in Golden!


Turtle on a Leash
06/29/2009 19:52
That was my wife and I..... ”What‘s she scared the turtle is going to run off?”.

Although I was thinking on the way down, a lot of public signs say ”Pets must be on leash”. Rules are rules.


more on the turtle ...
11/30/2010 17:28
ah! your wife prompted the turtle talk as I believe it was she, when we passed her, who said, ”Go ahead, I‘m like a turtle today” and I immediately thought of that story!

.... per my co-worker's facebook page:

"No joke! There's an RV park along the creek trail I was running along . . . and a lady by the park was standing with a big (maybe 14" diameter shell) turtle with a belt/strap around its middle and a leash attached. I'm serious here! :-)"

FYI - she's talking about the trail along clear creek in Golden between Washington St. and Hwy. 6

Did you see the incredibly fast hiker with the skis and long blonde hair? I can‘t believe how fast that dude was.

I‘d like more on the bear story please


06/29/2009 20:31
I wish there were a little more to it....

We were headed North on 285 to the trailhead around 5:45. Headed up a hill where the entrance to the Salida dump was. Something was in our lane at the top of the hill, silhouetted by the early light. About 1/4 mile out, it started running and I realized it was a bear.

It stopped on the far side of the road as we pulled to a stop and turned to have a look at us. Sara was pulling out our brand new camera, which neither of us had taken a picture with, during all of this. I readied the camera just as he went West into the brush. 1/2 second sooner and I‘d have had at least a blurry bear butt.

That guy with the skis was like TGC meets Fabio!

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