| Afternoon Scramble on Dyer's West Ridge
If you're looking for a relatively quick, easily accessible scramble, Dyer's West Ridge is a great option. The scramble requires some careful route finding and a helmet is highly recommended, but it was a blast. The fact that it ascends a west facing ridge allows you to keep an eye on approaching weather, so an afternoon start on a good weather day is not out of the question.
Dyer's West Ridge
Up until recently the idea of getting a late start never seemed like an option to me. It was always a choice of either starting early or not hiking at all. My original plan for the weekend was to meet a hiking partner driving in from Salt Lake City to do Wilson Peak. We had agreed to make a decision to go ahead with the trip or not based on Thursday's weather forecast. As the week progressed, the forecast took a turn toward crappy and forecasts nearer to our respective homes looked much more promising. We rescheduled Wilson for September and I changed my plans to hit the Massive four pack on Saturday and then do a shorter hike on Sunday. Friday came around and I was presented with a new problem; I was experiencing a worsening pain in my gut throughout my workday. I figured my weekend was shot and cancelled my backup plan.
Saturday morning I awoke to find the pain had completely vanished. It turned out I just had a malfunctioning pressure regulator(I had a bad case of gas) likely brought on by a combination of All Bran, beer, and Sriracha. Lesson learned. I hit my favorite breakfast spot and came home and still had the itch to hike. Dyer had been in the back of my mind as a short hike option, so I busted out Roach's Thirteeners book and quickly read up on the West Ridge route. I endured the frustrating late weekend morning drive up I-70 and was at the trailhead by 1:30.
I parked at the base of Dyer Amphitheater and the sight of the West Ridge immediately caught my attention.
As usual doubt entered my mind, but recollections of previous scrambles reminded me that these things often appear much more difficult than they really are. I grabbed my gear and headed up the amphitheater. This section is pretty straight forward. Just head to the end of the amphitheater and hike up to the saddle between Dyer and West Dyer.
Looking back at a small lake in Dyer Amphitheater
Mt Evans B from the beginning of the ridge
The start of the scramble. It appears pretty loose and nasty, but it's not as bad as it looks.
I promised myself I would turn back if I ever exceeded my comfort level and made sure not to climb anything I wouldn't be able to downclimb. After negotiating the first obstacle I realized my camera bag hanging off my waist was becoming be a safety issue, so I stopped and threw it in my pack. Apologies for the lack of photos on most of the scramble. I've read the scramble is either class 3 or 4. I still have trouble distinguishing between the two, but since it didn't make me cry I'll call it class 3.
About half way up the ridge I briefly pulled out my camera. Looking down toward West Dyer and East Ball
Dyer Amphitheater from above
The last third of the scramble is where things get interesting, and this is where your route finding skills come into play. A series of notches and towers must be negotiated, and unfortunately this is where the rock becomes a bit looser. At each of the the difficulties, I made sure to take my time to search for the easiest solution. I never had to drop too far below the ridge line.
Looking back at the more difficult terrain
I eventually reached the false summit and could see the easy terrain leading to Dyer's summit. Gemini sits in the distance, awaiting my arrival.
Gemini and Sherman from Dyer
Power lines near the Dyer-Gemini Saddle
Looking north through the legs of the monster
Gemini's eastern summit is one of the more shapely summits I know of (unlike its western summit, which is a bit lumpy and might want to have that looked at).
Dyer from Gemini
Interesting rock fracturing
I returned to the saddle and made my way down into Iowa Amphiteater following Dyer's East Ridge Route, passing this mining junk along the way. From here it was just a brief walk down the road back to my car.
After grabbing some pizza in Leadville, I headed up to the North Halfmoon Trailhead and caught this view of Dyer, Gemini, Sherman, and Sheridan as the sun set.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):