Peak(s):  Mt Richthofen - 12,940 feet
Mt Mahler - 12,493 feet
Date Posted:  09/04/2009
Date Climbed:   09/04/2009
Author:  Layne Bracy
 Lake Agnes Loop  

Lake Agnes TH, 10300'(Corolla passable) 6:20am
Mount Richthofen, 12940' 8:05am
Mount Mahler, 12493' 9:50am
TH 11:35am

4miles/3200'/5hr 15min

The turn-off to the TH is a couple miles west of Cameron Pass on Hwy 14. After paying the $6 day use fee, I drove to the Lake Agnes TH, just a couple rocks bumping the underside of the Corolla.

A nice trail leads quickly to beautiful Lake Agnes, where I got views of the first Never Summer peaks I would hopefully climb.
Mt Richthofen from Lake Agnes
Mt Mahler and its rugged east ridge

I circled right(west) around the lake and worked my way up the gully. For the most part, the rock was very stable. Only in the last 100' to the Richthofen-Mahler saddle did I encounter much of the loose terrain the Never Summers are known for.
Lake Agnes from the saddle

Taking the ridge east to Richthofen, I encountered some loose rock, but this steadily improved. The second half of the ridge was very enjoyable - narrow enough to feel airy, but not really dangerous. A class 3 gully leads to the summit.
Looking down on Richthofen's crux gully

Views from the summit were striking!
Nokhu Crags & Static Peak
Clark Peak among the Medicine Bow Mtns
south in the Never Summers
Mt Mahler

I returned to the saddle and contemplated the traverse to Mahler. From Andy's page on summitpost, I knew there would be a deep notch, with the crux coming right after. My hope was that since he had downclimbed this from Mahler, it wouldn't be as bad going up. Soon enough, I reached the crux notch and a wicked tower.
A nasty tower interrupts Mahler's east ridge. On the other side is the crux steep slope leading towards Mahler.

I wasn't sure if the tower had the 4th-class downclimb Andy described, and briefly considered trying to get up it. Instead, I descended steep terrain to bypass the tower, which looked very 5th-class once I got to the notch.

From the notch, I started ascending steep, grassy, ledgy terrain on the north side. At one point I felt I was getting more committed than I would have liked. I ended up making an exposed move to the right to reach somewhat easier terrain.
Looking down on the notch from partway up the class 4 crux

Finally, I reached the ridge-top and was relieved to see that the difficulties were over. A second notch presented no challenge.
The second major notch

From here I scrambled up easier class 3 terrain.
Looking back on the ridge to the saddle

The ridge relented and I walked up to the summit, enjoying more nice views.
Richthofen from Mahler
Unnamed lake and Lake Agnes
Nokhu Crags

From the summit, I descended the north face, a large talusfield. At times, I felt I was in potential rockslide territory and was happy to get down. I descended to a ridge west of the unnamed lake.
unnamed lake

From the upper lake, I made my way slowly down, stumbling on to a break in the cliffs above Lake Agnes.
Lake Agnes

At the lake, I met other hikers after having had complete solitude until that point. What a beautiful place the Never Summers are, and this relatively short loop has an incredible pay-off for only a half-day's effort!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

12/16/2010 18:43
Mt Mahler‘s east ridge looks pretty sweet. And your shot ‘south in the Never Summers‘ is sensational. Congrats and thanks for the great TR.

Layne Bracy

09/06/2009 21:44
I really enjoyed the trip - hard to believe I‘d been hiking in Colorado for 7 years and this was my first visit to the area!

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