| Corner of the Gore
July 10, 2012
(Wannabe) Climber: Me
“Corner Peak” (12,709’)
“Cataract Point” (12,400’)
Meridian Peak (12,426’)
View from the “Corner”
Trailhead: Piney Lake
Route: see map at end of report
Distance: ~13mi. RT (round trip)
Note: I got way off route on my hike out from Meridian, so mileage is best guess as my forest wandering bushwack certainly added some miles and elevation gain
Elevation Gain: ~5300’
Difficulty: class 3 & 4 rock scrambling with route finding, mostly off trail, mostly solid rock
Gear: daypack w/Essentials, helmet
Resources Used For Trip Planning: TOPO! mapping software; Joe Kramarsic’s Mountaineering in the Gore Range: A Record of Explorations, Climbs, Routes, and Names; summitpost.org (Gore page); NOAA weather forecast
Introduction & Gore “Names”
While making an attempt on “Peak D” in the autumn of 2011, I couldn’t help but notice some rugged and beautiful looking peaks to the W/NW of me. Well, this is the Gore Range, seeing rugged and beautiful peaks is not hard to come by!
Later I looked at the map to determine what they were. Ok, I’ll look into those down the road. More recently I saw a picture of “The Corners” by Benners and once again I’m reminded of this corner of the Gore. A search on SummitPost.org (sp) has a very brief description of them, without giving much if any pertinent info.
To Kramarsic’s book I go!
Interestingly, the sp page refers to this area of the Gore as “The Corners” while Kramarsic calls them the “Cataract Points” which he cites both the CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) and Robert Ormes (Guide to the Colorado Mountains) for giving the original name(s).
The original name of “Cataract Points” was first suggested by the CMC “in 1969 by the CMC Orotaxonomy Committee.” (Kramarsic, pg 181) In Ormes’ Guide to the Colorado Mountains, 6th Edition, they’re called “Cataract Crags” but in subsequent editions they’re given the name of “Cataract Points.”
The points along this curving ridge are aptly named, since they sit at the head of the Cataract Creek valley.
Conversely, the name “The Corners” also fit well, with “Corner Peak” taking the middle role and the bookends of 12,626’ to the E/NE (a.k.a, “E Corner”) and Pt. 12,663' sits to the NW and thus becomes known as “W Corner.”
However, in this report I’m referring to the original names as I’ve mentioned that are listed in Kramarsic’s book.
I started out from my truck sometime around 6am, heading down the familiar Piney Creek trail. My intended route was to head towards Kneeknocker Basin, and then cut left off the “trail” to my first point. Kramarsic describes one route from Kneeknocker, and that’s for Pt. 12,626.’
Pt. 12,626’ was going to be my first peak, but plans change whether you realize it or not.
Looking up at my access point, aiming for the saddle
If you’ve been up the Kneeknocker approach before, you may remember coming to a bench that can become confusing as to where the trail goes. This confusion is because of the willows and other thick vegetation that is found here and masks the trail quite well.
From my hike of Mt. Powell last year, I remembered this area and I remembered seeing a slope that could possibly grant passage to ridges above. It was that slope that I used on this trip to access my first peak.
Looking down at my approach
Looking up at my options, because "the introduction is over”
As I got higher, I could see several possibilities to gain the upper ridge. The gully I was in would go in a couple of different branches – but it would be somewhat grungy.
Off to my right, I noticed a ramp. This ramp reminds me of the one found on Arrow Peak. Being by myself, my first thought was to stick with the ‘safer’ gully instead of increasing my risk with the ramp because it looked like it was going to be scrambly. Scrambly is more fun than grungy.
I think I’ll at least go check it out!
Looking up at the ramp
As it turns out, I stayed off the ramp and scrambled ledges to its left. The rock was solid, fun, and there were plenty of options to make it easy or difficult. The ramp itself is steeper than Arrow’s ramp and narrower. Plus it was wet in some places on the inside of it.
Above and to the right of the ramp, the terrain gets even steeper – but looks very climbable
Terrain on my route….
Short 4th class crack
Once above the 4th class crack, I came to a notch in the ridge. On the other side was an abyss, and looking across the abyss I could see what I figured was Pt. 12,626.’ I guess I’ll climb “Corner Peak” first! As it turns out, this was the upper portion of the SE ridge that I climbed. It was a good mistake not going up Pt. 12,626’ because this is a fun route!
From the notch and upwards, route-finding and scrambling were constant but not very difficult. Most times easier options were available and the rock continued to be solid, but the exposure is there. A fall would be bad (i.e., people tend to bounce once they fall).
Narrow ridge walking at times, with great views around
The crux of the day was a very exposed step around & step down corner. The step down was ~5’ but to a small ledge on the left and to the right was a ~20’ vertical drop to more steep terrain below. My other option was to backtrack a little ways and drop some elevation. However, I could see the moves to make it thru the crux ‘safely’ so I did it.
The crux: the crack on the left was good for a hand with smears on the right as I lowered my left foot to the ledge, with a gap and a big drop to right.
Looking back at the crux
Occasionally, I had grunge like this short gully….
…..but then I would get off the grunge and get on this kind of stuff again
This route reminded me of the ridge route on W Partner because of the way it keeps giving you more around every other corner or over the next tower.
Then it’s over.
The summit is reached and I'm rewarded with ripping good views
Peak 12,626’ (a.k.a., "E Corner")
The grass ramp in the above photo is likely one way that would “go” for Peak 12,626’
Eagles Nest (l.) ridge run to Mt Powell (r.)
Now a word from these sponsors:
KILO Rocks Colorado!!
Stop in at the Chalet, ask for Matt or Pete and tell them I sent you!
Word of Caution: If you do mention my name, they’ll probably shower pity on you (or more like laugh at you) but they’ll still treat you right! Best shop in town, no doubt.
Next up is the twin summit of “Corner Peak” (with nearly the same elevation). Getting over to that one is class 2+ with some class 3. From there on, it’s mostly walking for the remainder of the day.
Pictures will tell the rest of the story….
“Corner” sub-summit and Pt. 12,663 (a.k.a., W Corner) to the right
From Pt. 12,663 looking back at “Corner Peak.” I have about 50 more pictures with very similar views.
This is Me
Meridian from “Cataract Pt”
From Meridian, looking back at most of the ridge tour
My descent and a forest for my wandering ways on the left
I mentioned early in my report I got off route. I did. Lesson learned? I didn’t look at my map soon enough. Will I do it again? Most likely.
But as Tolkien wrote, “not all who wander are lost.”
Thanks for reading,
Approximate route, including forest wandering
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):