Peak(s):  Bushnell Pk  -  13,105 feet
Twin Sisters North  -  13,012 feet
Galena Peak - 12461
Mount Otto - 12865
Red Mountain - 12994
Date Posted:  05/09/2011
Date Climbed:   05/06/2011
Author:  Furthermore
 7 Peak Nor Cristo Traverse   

Galena Peak 12,461
Point 12,620
Mt Otto 12,865
Bushnell Peak 13,105
Twin Sisters 13,012
Point 12,924
Red Mountain 12,994


May 6, 2011
~19.7 Miles, 8,600 Gain. (~10.5 Miles Climbed, ~9.2 Miles Ran)
Trailhead: ~9,800 Hayden Pass Road (4WD Mandatory)

The Cristos have been good to us this year, with low snow levels, so we returned. I met Al at our usual spot at our usual time Thursday and made the drive down towards Hayden Pass Road. We worked our way up the road which was very rocky and had a few interesting steep sections. The first real place to set any camp without sleeping in the valley was around ~9,800. We could have continued further up the road but the snow was increasing, camping spots were lacking, and parking further up the road would have put us further away from our first peak.

The alarm wasn't too bad as we were able to get to bed early. We woke up at 4:30 AM and were hiking up the steep south slopes up Galena just a little past 5:00 AM. There is nothing like a steep hill right out of the gates. Our progress was good as we climbed upwards and around ~11,200 the snow increased but luckily the snow was well consolidated and frozen so travel wasn't very difficult. We left the snowshoes at the car.

Sunrise on the south ridge of Galena.

Taking in the morning sun. (Photo by Al)

Being careful not to make any post-holes, as there were some "soft" sections, we continued upwards and as soon as we got out of the trees, at ~11,600, it became a snow covered talus climb to the summit where we arrived at 7:30 AM. The weather was clear and sunny except that it was windy. Unfortunately we would be battling the wind for the next 6 hours. A constant 6 on the Beaufort scale. Our stay was short and we continued north towards our next objective of Point 12,620.

Out of the trees on the south ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)

Out of the trees on the south ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)

Al working his way up the south ridge of Galena.

Summit of Galena. (Photo by Al)

Descending off of Galena was steep and progress was hindered with the powdery snow covering the loose talus, a common theme for the rest of the day. Once we hit the saddle, we made good time to the summit of 12,620 where we arrived at 8:20 AM. We could see Hunts in the distance and it was rather intimidating that we were going to be traversing almost that distance and returning back! Just to the north of 12,620 was a neat looking spire that might have to be climbed when I run out of things to climb.

Descending the north ridge of Galena. (Photo by Al)

Looking back on the north ridge of Galena.

Starting up 12,620. (Photo by Al)

Al on the summit of 12,620.

Neat spire.

Neat spire with Otto in the background. (Photo by Al)

As we continued onward towards Mt. Otto, we bypassed Point 12,840 (unmarked), on the west side of the ridge. Again, travel was slow on the snow covered talus. If the snowy talus wasn't going to knock us off balance, the wind certainly attempted too. We arrived on the summit of Mt. Otto at 9:30 AM and Bushnell looked impressive. Also, it was rewarding looking back on the peaks that we had already climbed. Fortunately, for some odd reason, there wasn't much wind on the summit so we took a longer break before heading towards Bushnell.

Descending 12,620 towards Otto. (Photo by Al)

Bushnell from the summit of Otto.

We descended the class 2 north ridge of Otto and unfortunately, we couldn't bypass 13,002 so we ended up climbing up and over on our way to Bushnell. The wind continued to hammer us as we summited Bushnell at 10:45 AM. Just a little over halfway done.

Descending the north ridge of Otto. (Photo by Al)

Otto-Bushnell saddle. (Photo by Al)

South ridge of Bushnell.

Otto, 12,620 and Galena from the summit of Bushnell.

Continuing onward to the north to Twin Sisters, we bypassed Point 12,730 on the west side and continued up the long broad class 2 ridge to the summit of Twin Sisters where we arrived at 12:10 PM. Still sunny and still windy. After downing another gel, we continued toward Point 12,924. On our way up the south ridge of 12,924, I could start to feel the days gain wearing on me. We arrived on the summit of 12,924 at 1:00 PM with great views all around. Another gel down the hatch.

Bushnell from the summit of Twin Sisters.

Al approaching the summit of Twin Sisters.

Red Mountain had the worst wind of the day and at times balance became difficult. We ditched our packs at the 12,924-Red Mountain Saddle and continued north towards the summit. Progress was slow due to the wind and the physical exertion we had already put on bodies by climbing 6 alpine summits. It felt good not having a pack and we arrived on the summit at 1:50 PM. Now, the wind continued to batter us at a constant 7-8 on the Beaufort Scale.

Fighting the wind up Red Mountain (Photo by Al)

Twin Sisters and 12,924 from the summit of Red Mountain.

We returned to our packs, inhaled another gel, and descended west down slushy snow towards Raspberry Creek. As we descended lower, the snow became a little deeper and at times we were post holing up to our knees. Around ~10,200 we were able to avoid the snow and progress was good. Eventually, we found a trail, less traveled, and continued towards the valley.

Descending towards Raspberry Creek.

Snow descent.

Finally, we received a break from the wind and the temperature was warming up. I had been wearing my fleece, shell and balaclava all day as the wind was brutally cold. It felt good to shed a few layers.

The next best thing after climbing 7 peaks, besides a beer, is taking a nice long 9 mile run. I had no option as we didn't have a car shuttle; the run was mandatory. Around ~8,800, I stripped down to shorts and a T-shirt, changed into my running shoes and began the long run back to the car. I left Al with my pack around 4:20 PM.
Staring the run back to the car. (Photo by Al.)

As I followed the maze of roads dirt roads back to the car, I watched my progress of the peaks we had just climb pass by me. I saw several antelopes and the best part, zero people which had a nice desolate feeling. I almost love running as much as I love climbing.

Now for the test. The last 3 miles to the car gained ~1,600 feet and was steep. My running progress slowed, but I kept a good uphill pace until the last mile. My legs were tired, the hill was very steep and rocky so I just ended up hiking the last mile arriving back at the car just a little past 6:00 PM. Hiking was probably faster anyhow.

The drive back to Al was uneventful and took almost 40 minutes as the road was rocky and progress was slow. Kind of crazy to think that I almost ran that distance in the same time that I drove it. I picked up Al, and drove back towards Al's car after an extremely rewarding early May climb.


Route Map.

Al's GPX file.

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

Comments or Questions

Holy Cow!
05/10/2011 13:15
It's not just one thing to climb and traverse 7 peaks, you gotta just go ahead and do a 9 mile jog after your done! Props to your climb and superhuman endurance! Great pics too.


05/10/2011 13:20
Strong work, as usual. There aren't too many TRs for this one.
Anyone want to hit Bushnell with a car shuttle or by taking a route sans the nine mile run?


05/10/2011 13:50
Matt- If you wanted, there is a 4WD (maybe high clearance) road that goes up to ~9,200 in Ferguson Gulch. Bushnell and Twin Sisters would be easy from that trailhead. You could also park lower ~8,400-8,600 on the road(s) and make a descent loop including Red and 12,924. We considered that second option; food for thought.

Also, I know its a bad word here but fourteenerworld has six reports on Bushnell alone, not to mention the many many other peaks. The site also has reports on Otto and others that we climbed in this loop. There isn't too many other places you can find a wealth of 13ener knowledge let alone 12ver info. All I'm just saying is that it might be worth considering the ”Jackson” investment.


Wowzers ...
05/10/2011 21:01
My golly ... kickin' *ss with that many peaks, traversing up and down and up and down, fighting the wind, and then stripping down to shorts for a ânice run❠back to the car on top of that. Amazing. We did Bushnell/Twin Peaks from the backside ... seems like the San Luis Valley approach is more popular with people. Thanks for posting. Happy trails!

nice work
05/10/2011 21:24
This is really cool to see. I live in Salida and look at Simmons Peak all the time. I have driven down the valley and planned to navigate the tops of the Sangres from Hayden to Poncha Pass. Surprised to see someone else with the same idea.

Last week I parked up off of Poncha Pass and hiked/skinned to past Simmons and down the Sangres a few peaks. Then I came back and hit Simmons and skiid the long avalanche chute to the north east of the summit. For anyone looking for a lot of vertical, this isn't the peak, but was still super fun.

Could you look down the east fast of Galena and see a ski line off the summit?


hey carrying two packs for a mile and a half
05/10/2011 21:50
out to count for something

never a dull moment when Derek plans a route

I was impressed though by the speed in which he did return


Kudos for carrying two packs ...
05/10/2011 22:46
Yes yes yes ... credit duly given for that! 8)


No line.
05/11/2011 00:01
I didn't see any ski line off of Galena or any other peaks.

Al- Thanks again for bringing down my pack. You didn't have to do that for the last 1 1/2 miles on your part.


I saw the title.....
05/11/2011 01:25
and immediately pegged the author. Well done Derek and Al.


Ever hear of a bike?????
05/11/2011 02:07
Mike, Steve and I were looking at that route a few weeks ago. But we were going to be lazy and bring a second car. Good God Man.

Jason Halladay

07/27/2015 14:21
That’s a huge outing especially in those conditions. Thanks for the report, very helpful and inspiring.

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