Peak(s):  "North Traverse Pk"  -  13,079 feet
"Grand Traverse Pk"  -  13,041 feet
Post Date:  08/15/2012
Modified:  08/13/2013
Date Climbed:   08/11/2012
Posted By:  bergsteigen
Additional Members:   edlins, sdkeil

 The Amazing Grand Traverse Race  

North Traverse Peak & Grand Traverse Peak

Mileage: 11.4
Elevation Gain: ~5,600'
Time : ~10 hrs +/- 15min depending on desire for PBR back at the car

The weather was proving to be odd for Saturday. 50% chance of storms starting at 6am, and continuing all day long? Do we do a committing Class 4 - Class5 ridge traverse with a forecast like that? Well our purposely small group of 4 was willing to roll the dice. Early start (3:51am), first summit (8:13am), make decision from there!

So rolling out of Scott's Silverthorne condo at o-dark 3am-ish we travel at Moch-4 on I-70 to the first car shuttle trailhead. While I was turning green, Scott was polishing off a trailhead PBR. Couple miles down the road, we find our starting trailhead, and see 2 campers about to do the same route.

The trail is steep and unrelenting at first, but it soon eases to just plain unrelenting after a while. But the miles tick by as we make steady progress up the valley, and we take our first real break by the old cabin.

Photo Credit: Scott

Beyond the cabin the manicured trail is over, but so are the trees. As we went up higher, the sun also rose above the distant horizon, giving us our first good view of the sky. We decided to forgo approaching the saddle for a scree/talus slog. Not recommended! Scott continued up the talus while the rest of us booked it for a nice grass gully - since if there's grass, it goes!

The valley approaching the saddle

Alpenglow on Mt of the Holy Cross

Some fun clouds over Climbers Point

After the grassy gully, it was a short hop and a skip up to the summit. Quite chilly up there at 8am with a stiff breeze. So after refueling and snapping some photos we were off to tackle the ridge.

The Grand traverse

Northern Gore

Group shot after ghetto 4-Loco

We'd heard that you can keep the difficulty at Class 3 if you repeatedly drop to the west. But that wouldn't be sporting, so we kept it as ridge proper as we could. That just meant plenty of ups and downs.

At first the weather was holding quite nicely, and we had fun playing around on the ridge. Scouting different ways up and down the ridge features. Quite a bit of class 4 and even some low class 5. Even the down climbs had me stretched to the max, feet by my arm pits.... Other times I had to hang from my arms to lower myself in a reverse mantle, as 5'4" only gets you so much reach!

Just the start of the TQ ridge

Life on the edge

Shawn along the first slab exposure section

The slabby east face of North Traverse Peak

Darrin on edge - Photo Credit: Scott

Climbing with these two is always a party/photo bomb waiting to happen

The cruxy section

Walking with some air and loose boulders

Scott scouting the upclimb

Shawn spanking some rocks

Darrin checking out a gendarme along the ridge

Approaching the V-notch

Glad to be narrow! - Photo Credit: Scott

Mr GQ himself

Shawn making his way out of the V-notch

Somewhere near the last up climb before the summit area, the wind picked up, and the clouds coalesced into something less than friendly. We were in the middle of some low Class 5 dihedrals and looking at a mid Class 5 dihedral with a possibly loose boulder (which had my T. Q.), as the weather turned quickly. Time to stop the fun on the ridge and get to the summit. So Darrin and Scott finished the up climb over the ridge feature, while Shawn and I dropped down and around and bee-lined it for the summit, by passing the last "false summit" and approaching the summit from the west on some fun Class 3 solid rock.

Some C4/low C5 dihedrals anyone?

Looking back at the V-notch

Approaching the summit from the west

Final summit pitch, a bit southwest of the actual summit.

Of course, as soon as we got to the summit, the wind died and the clouds became less threatening again. Darn! At least we were off the tricky stuff before any possible rain. Still we didn't hang around too long and figured a longer break down by Deluge Lake would be best.

Looking back on the Grand traverse

Some nifty light and shadows

Northern Gore Pano

The Lake! And southern Gore

Two happy ridge runners

I think Scott is sad the ridge is over... He should be happy with his free PBR trucker hat!

Lake pano

Hey Snow!

A pretty stream - Photo Credit: Scott

So after a hard earned climb and some trailhead PBR's (an Uplope Belgian for me), we make our way to the Dam for some food and more beer! Mmmmm tasty!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

PBR for breakfast!
08/15/2012 20:11
some of those pictures are unbelievable. Looks like a great trip in a great spot gang!


Where did you find the homeless wino?
08/15/2012 20:27
I think the dude with the white skull cap was holding a sign asking for ashtray change at an intersection I just drove through... oh wait, that's Scott! Never mind. At least he waited until almost light out to start drinking.


08/15/2012 22:00
Great trip report, nice pictures, very interesting area, thanks for sharing this.


I thought you guys might be members....
08/15/2012 22:03
Cool to run into you in the parking lot and on the trail. It would have been nice to climb with you guys for a while. Perhaps next time.

Mike and I commented later that a couple of you had way too much energy for that early in the I understand why!!


Good stuff
08/16/2012 00:51
Great report and images. I loved climbing Grand and N Grand, but never connected the two via the traverse. Impressive route. Someday.


08/16/2012 01:05
Wow! What a fantastic ridge! Gorgeous shots as usual! Thanks for sharing with us folks at home, Otina!


looks like fun
08/16/2012 02:59
I look forward to that route someday.

Otina, now that you're in love with the Gore, you should learn your Alphabet....that's a good way to spend quality time with your TOPO!! ;)


Thanks everyone!
08/16/2012 18:13
dillonsarnelli - Not sure how Scott does it... All I need is coffee!

Keith - Not sure 3am is quite close to sunlight I wonder how many of the 30-pack lasted the day...

mtnfiend - Small world isn't it! Glad to run into you on the trail. Now you'll know who the energetic bunch is for next time!

Darin - Ah, the alphabet - we're already planning to get near that area to scout it out soon. Topo's, it was love at first sight during my freshman Geology classes!

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