Start by climbing South Arapaho Peak. (Route description
The traverse from South Arapaho Peak summit to North Arapahoe Peak summit is only 0.8 miles one way, but the rock is Class 3 and 4 for almost all of it, with 300 feet of downclimbing and 400 feet of upclimbing in the one-way trip. The navigation is not always intuitive and there is substantial exposure to falling below and lightning above. Make sure the weather looks good and you feel focused for some high-altitude climbing. It will take at least an hour each way to traverse.
The summit of North Arapaho Peak is a big flat area after the technical climbing ( 1
), only 100 feet higher than South Arapaho Peak when all is done. You can't actually see most of the route from the summit of South Arapaho Peak because you'll be proceeding mostly on the southwest and west sides of the ridge ( 2
Follow a dirt path to the left of the first ridge point ( 3
). As you approach the second ridge point, look for a painted orange arrow pointing down to your left ( 4
). By taking this path, you are avoiding a Class 5 section directly in front of you. Drop down a few feet and find another orange arrow pointing back right and up. Turn right behind this rock and ascend a short Class 3 gully. Turn left at the top of the gully and go right over the top of the ridge point ( 5
). There is some exposure here.
At around 0.25 miles from the South Arapaho summit (4.55 miles from the Fourth of July trailhead), go around to the left of the third ridge point ( 6
). Paint marks the way.
The fourth ridge point has the main Class 4 section. Follow the footpath to approach ( 7
) and look up the face climb ( 8
is a detail of face climb and part of Photo 7). Orange arrows mark the route. The Class 4 pitch is two sections of about 8 to 10 feet each, and the exposure is not directly below the slope of the climb.
The Class 4 sections put you on top of the fourth ridge point. Go right over the top of it and downclimb some exposed high Class 3 rock to a rocky path that continues north just left of the cliffs that drop to Arapaho Glacier ( 9
Pass to the left of the fifth ridge point ( 10
). Descend a few feet and look for cairns on the right up ahead ( 11
). These will lead you to a hidden dirt path to ascend 50 feet ( 12
). The summit is tantalizingly in view just a quarter mile away ( 13
), but there is much climbing left. Pass over this ridge point and find an orange arrow pointing down ( 14
Turn left just after passing through the notch in the rock and begin a somewhat exposed Class 3 downclimb of about 50 feet ( 15
). Turn right at the bottom of the downclimb onto another short dirt and rock path to the base of the summit pitch. Begin climbing the Class 3 rock ( 16
) toward a notch in the cliffs just below the summit. There are some cairns to guide you.
It looks like it might exceed Class 3 but if you stay on the route it does not. Ascend into the notch ( 17
) and turn right when leaving it. The summit itself is flat and open ( 18
). Stroll over to the massive summit cairn ( 19
) and climb atop it for your victory photo.