Charles Benchmark 12,050
Fools Peak 12,947
Eagle Peak 13,043 (unranked)
“Ribbed” Peak 13,085
“Pika” Peak 13,126
August 10, 2012
~14.8 Miles, ~8,800 Gain
TH: Parking for the Peter Estin Hut off of FS 416. (High clearance recommended)
The road to Yeoman Park was a familiar drive and Al and I made pretty good time from Denver. Driving up past Yeoman Park took a little longer than I had expected, around 30 minutes, and we camped at the parking area for the Peter Estin Hut. When we arrived at the parking area there was a group of people working on maintenance for the hut but we were able to sleep in solitude at the parking area.
Anticipating afternoon thunderstorms, we woke up at 4:00 AM and were hiking at 4:30 AM. We hiked past the Peter Estin hut but missed the turn off for the Lake Charles trail (a right turn). We did a short bushwhack and intercepted the Iron Edge trail near a horse corral but still couldn't locate the Lake Charles trail so we started bushwhacking east up the west slopes of Charles Benchmark.
It was a bit of a steep bushwhack but we made decent progress despite the lack of a trail. Once we broke out of treeline, we arrived on the western false summit of Charles Benchmark and continued to the true summit (class 2) where we arrived at 5:20 AM. Still dark out and not much of a view, we continued onward towards Fools Peak. Shortly after dropping off the talus east slopes of Charles Benchmark we found the Lake Charles trail. I was beginning to doubt its existence.
Our enjoyment of the trail didn't last long as we departed the Lake Charles trail before the trail descended towards Lake Charles. Not having many options for avoiding elevation gain, we stayed on the ridge proper up and over point 11,905 but we were able to skirt the western false summit of Fools peak on the south side. The final 800 feet of gain up Fools was on steep class 2 talus and we arrived on the summit of Fools at 7:00 AM where we welcomed the sunshine.
First light with Charles BM in the background.
Sunrise on the rest of the Sawatch.
Morning light with Al climbing the west ridge of Fools.
We descended off the east ridge of Fools peak and encountered our first obstacle of the day. A 40 foot cliff just before the Fools-Eagle saddle but it was easily bypassed by a very short class 3 gully on the south side of the ridge. Continuing up the west ridge of Eagle we bypassed a short tower on the south side before reaching the summit. Being un-ranked, we didn't stick around and headed south towards Point 13,100; a class 2 talus hike where we arrived on the summit at 9:00 AM. “Ribbed” Peak from the summit of 13,100 looked far away and not easy to obtain. I didn't have any beta on the traverse but looked through the register and found that someone did combine the two peaks and therefore, a way.
Short class 3 gully on Fools' east ridge.
Working our way towards eagle looking back at the Fools-Eagle saddle. The 40' cliff can be seen.
Point 12,940 and “Pika” from Eagle's west ridge.
Point 13,100 from the summit of Eagle.
Descending off of 13,100 to the 13,100-”Ribbed” saddle went easy at class 2, but from the saddle the traverse looked even worse. I looked around a bit and found a grassy ledge on the south side of the ridge about the same elevation as the saddle. This grassy ledge was our key to the traverse. Once on the grassy ledge system we made good progress traversing on the south side of the ridge. Despite easy travel, there was plenty of up and down and route finding for the path of least resistance. Slowly we gained the ridge proper before reaching the final summit massive. The grassy ledge system went at class 2.
Looking at the 13,100-”Ribbed” traverse from near the saddle.
The grassy ledge on the south side of the ridge. Very important.
Somewhere on the 13,100-”Ribbed” traverse.
“Ribbed” summit massive.
From the ridge proper before the summit massive, we traversed into a rocky gully in the center of southwest face. At first the climbing was class 2, but ended on some fun solid class 3 scrambling before the summit ridge. We arrived on the summit of “Ribbed” at 10:40 AM. The traverse took way longer than we both had anticipated. Our stay was short and we returned back towards 13,100. Although we knew the route, our return trip still took some time and we re-arrived on the summit of 13,100 at 12:10 PM.
Al working his way up the class 3 gully on “Ribbed.”
Al working his way up the class 3 gully on “Ribbed.”
Point 13,100 and Eagle from the summit of “Ribbed”
With promising weather, we decided to continue our traverse towards Point 12,940 and climbed back to the summit of Eagle Peak. Shortly after heading north off the summit of Eagle the ridge became more challenging with plenty of class 3 scrambling. Initially, anything we bypassed was on the east side of the ridge. On the lower half of the ridge we bypassed tougher sections on a gully on the west side of the ridge. For the most part, we tried to stay on the ridge proper. Working our way down the ridge took time but fortunately, the rock was solid and the sustained class 3 scrambling was enjoyable.
Looking north from the summit of Eagle. The class 3 starts right away.
Heading north from the summit of Eagle.
First bit of solid class 3 on Eagle's north ridge.
Class 3 action on Eagle.
Class 3 action on Eagle.
On the ridge proper.
“Ribbed” from the north ridge on Eagle.
To save some time on our second half of the traverse, we found a grassy ledge that angled around the south side of Point 12,800 and once around Point 12,800, it was an easy class 2 talus hike to the summit of 12,940 where we arrived at 2:40 PM. Some isolated questionable weather was starting to form but we decided to continue towards “Pika.”
Al nearing the summit of 12,940.
“Pika” from the summit of 12,940.
Traversing between “Pika” and 12,940 was the easiest traverse of the day and was all class 2 talus. We arrived on the summit of “Pika” at 3:35 PM and descended “Pika's” talus west ridge which at this point, wasn't very enjoyable. At ~12,000 on “Pika's” west ridge we descended directly towards Lake Charles working our way through a few short cliff bands. Once at Lake Charles Al and I discussed our options. Regaining 1200-1600 feet back up the Lake Charles trail to the car did not appeal to Al considering he had already gained 7,200 feet. We decided I would take the trail back to up to the car while he took the trail to Fulford Campground which didn't require any additional gain.
Looking back at 12,940 from the 12,940-”Pika” saddle.
Gold Dust with questionable weather from the summit of “Pika”
Lake Charles and Charles Benchmark from the summit of “Pika.”
Eagle Peak on our descent off of “Pika.”
Heading down the trail from Lake Charles, I couldn't find the junction for heading back up towards Charles Benchmark so I ended up bushwhacking my way up towards the Point 11,905-Charles Benchmark saddle and found the trail ~400 feet below the saddle. Once I found the trail, I was able to make good time back to the Peter Estin Hut and back to my car where I arrived at 6:50 PM. I made the slow drive back to Yeoman Park and picked up Al just outside of the Fulford Campground. It wasn't our typical Sawatch slog.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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