Mt. Yale - Southwest Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||4,300 feet|
|RT Length:||9.50 miles|
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Yale|
|County Sheriff:||Chaffee: 719-539-2596
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Collegiate Peaks|
From U.S. 24 in the center of Buena Vista, take the County 306 road towards Cottonwood Pass. Drive 12 miles on this road to reach the Denny Creek Trailhead and paved parking area on the right.
Photo #1 shows the upper route, seen from the 306 road. From the middle of the parking area, follow the trail north into the forest. After 1 mile, cross the Denny Creek stream on a log bridge. Near 1.25 miles from the trailhead, locate the Mt. Yale trail that turns up to the right - Photo #2. There is a sign at this trail junction ( 38.8296° N, -106.34235° W) - straight is for Browns Pass/Hartenstein Lake and right is for Mt. Yale. Turn right and proceed up the Mt. Yale trail. Weave through the forest and eventually parallel the stream in Delaney Gulch.
Near 11,200', cross the Delaney Gulch stream on a log bridge ( 38.83735° N, -106.3342° W) - Photo #3. Shortly after some small meadows, the trail climbs steeply up a hillside. From 11,300' to 11,900', hike north and east through the forest on a great trail - Photo #4 and Photo #5. Leave the trees above 12,100' (Photo #6) and continue up through rocks (Photo #7) as the trail approaches a shoulder. Once on the shoulder, the trail heads northeast toward Yale's upper west slopes where much of the remainder of the route is now visible - Photo #8, Photo #9 and Photo #10. Continue northeast on the solid trail and near 13,200', begin the steep climb up the slope left of the summit - Photo #11. Grind up 750' of elevation gain to reach the saddle at the top of the slope ( 38.8469° N, -106.31582° W) (13,960').
Turn right (southeast) to see the ridge that leads the summit - Photo #12. Climb up into the rocks and the trail quickly disappears but cairns often show the way. Scramble along the ridge crest or work your way along the right side. Take your time and you will find an easy way through any difficulties. Photo #13 was taken along the ridge and Photo #14 just before the summit. Continue to the spacious summit ( 38.844051° N, -106.313965° W). Photo #15, Photo #16 and Photo #17 were taken from the top.
Yale has a trail to 13,900'. The last 1.5 miles to the summit is steep and slow going. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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