| Ten Miles of Goreing & Vomiting
Hi they're, my name (as you all know) is Vomit . So yup, this report will be another report of some peaks completed this last weekend however I considered it a more relaxing experience doing some relatively easy & sweet 13ers. My body still felt like a spun-around dice in a yahtze cup after the lengthy winded last weekend climbing eight named peaks. While I probably could've done four peaks this weekend, the dazzling fall colors really lured my camera into photographing the other aspects of nature that I only summitted three.
Okay, so the title really has nothing to do w/ disaster. Actually, my weekend consisted of Saturday spent in the Gores & Sunday in the Tenmiles (& that hiking was a lot longer than ten miles!). My climbing buddy Tyler had just come from a trip w/ another friend down in the San Juans completing Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn, & a host of other peaks & w/o being remotely tired, he was looking at spending Saturday doing a long-day traverse from Mt. Hope that would loop around catching Ervin, Blaurock, & Rinker, which to me sounded like nothing but an overbearingly dizzying, nauseatingishly, overkill, vomit-spewing idea. So while he had that planned, I decided to spend Saturday taking it much more softly, by going solo to the northern Gores up to Mt. Powell & perhaps "Peak C". The end of the day, we'd meet somewhere & make it a relatively easy Sunday by doing Pacific & Atlantic, since it sounded like bad weather was rolling in right afterwards.
So the Gores were a new experience for me. I've passed them a bunch of times & wanted to be up in there, but I never made an official trip until this weekend. I left later than usual & made it to the Piney River Ranch north of Vail at 8:15AM, starting out on the open meadow facing the picturesque aspens against the backdrop of the high terrain. It was a hazy day, so I knew the views would be limited, but ultimately I just wanted to see what this range looked like up close.
Morning stroll past Piney River Ranch facing Peak C.
Through the colors.
Three miles in, I'm still looking high up at Peak C. I've got a long way to ascend.
I encountered no one until I met the small cairn & trail w/ felled trees that signaled the split off. A few camping areas along a creek that rushed through worn rocks. The trail itself wasn't too hard to follow, though it appeared more like a deer trail than a human one. It was popular enough that I did meet six people total, plus plenty of young families who were staying at the ranch & had their cameras out for the aspen colors. These peaks really don't have any high ranking certificates to them so they don't attract a bulk of the mountaineers. Mt. Powell is the high point of the range, though it doesn't have an official elevation reading.
I made it to the last stretch of trees & to the picturesque upper meadow where I was greeting by a lone mountain goat who watched my every movement but didn't seem to mind what I was doing one bit. The ascent to Kneeknocker Pass sure looked like a chore, though I made it up relatively easily (without banging my knee) & came to a narrow saddle between Powell & the impressive tower of Peak C. I could see two climbers far ahead of me on the scree slope up Powell, & it appeared that the only way to get to where they were was by down climbing the loose gravelling slope a couple hundred feet before the major ascent up the mountain. That of course didn't appeal to me, so I looked at climbing straight up the serrated ridge itself that led to a gentle summit ridgeline to Powell. I knew there would be plenty of challenges to what I saw & didn't see, & seeing that it didn't appear that any trail really led up the ridge, I knew it was probably a folly route to take.
To reach Kneeknocker Pass above, I must first get past the gatekeeper.
Well, the ridge was grassy & had gnarly drop offs on both sides. A slip on the grass & well, you'll land flatter than a crushed penny on a railroad track on the rocks below. The west side however had gentler slopes, but it was still a risky business. One vantage point I made it to enabled me to get a good shot of Peak C, which made the initial part of this climb worth it. Looking ahead though, there was some rough terrain that I knew I couldn't stay on the ridge for long.
Peak C from a suicidal location.
I did find an access point on the back side of Powell, locating a faint trail w/ a few small cairns that seemed to dead end at a certain point back on the east side. I found myself high up enough that I carefully traversed to where I last saw the climbers that were far ahead of me. It was slow, but I managed to get to where the standard trail was, & from there, it was up & up.
I did pass the two climbers as they were coming down, so I knew I had a summit to myself. I reached one false summit where the rocks turned into massive boulders, & after rock hopping, I reached the summit of Mt. Powell.
Summit of Mt. Powell looking south.
Miles of peaks & ridges.
So, no more than 20 minutes up there enjoying the rugged beauty, I bumped into four students from CU before making my descent. I was debating whether to take the suicidal ridge down or to actually follow what most climbers do. I ended up doing the latter, which was just as much of a chore since I didn't have much grip w/ my shoes on the soil.
Finally made it back to the pass, & I pondered doing Peak C, though I decided to pass on it. It wasn't late in the day, but I had to meet Tyler & we were communicating wherever there was a signal for our phones. I hadn't heard from him since this morning when he told me he had just summitted Mt. Hope & might be down sometime around 7:30. I knew I'd be down before that time, so I decided to take it slow & take in some of the fall colors & effects.
Taking the trail back down, I started photographing away, enjoying an entire wilderness to myself. I spent a good chunk of time in the aspen groves near the Piney Lake Ranch, then arrived back at my vehicle after a 12 mile hike & nearly 4500 feet of elevation gain.
These glacial carved boulders were a common site. Besides the rock patterns, you can faintly see striation marks from rocks rubbing & grinding.
Back in the autumn basin.
Leaving the area, another last look of Powell (left) & Peak C.As I took the 11 mile rough road back to Vail, I soon got reception & more info that Tyler was still in the mountains but near descent after passing Rinker Peak. So we'd probably meet around at the same time & so I texted him saying to meet atop Fremont Pass, since the turnoff at Mayflower Gulch for Atlantic/Pacific Peaks wasn't marked.
Arriving at Fremont Pass as it was getting dark, I stayed in the car looking out at the mining activity at the Climax Molybdenum Mine before finding myself dozing off. Hopefully Tyler got the idea to meet up here, since when I checked my phone there was no cell service, so there was no way we could contact. Then, far into a state of sleep, I jolted after hearing a knock on my window realizing he was outside, at about 9:50 at night. Apparently he had been waiting in Leadville for me then decided to come up here to see if I really was up here. Doh! Bad planning, but at least he found me.
So he told me his tale of how the massive traverse from Hope to Rinker went. More negatives than positives, but it sounded like there was a ton of rotten terrain that almost made the Maroon Bells sound like butterflies & cupcakes. Not to mention the big rocks moved. So yeah, if you're ever in a tossup on whether you want to spend a day doing either Mt. Powell or a massive traverse from Mt. Hope to Rinker Peak, I would highly encourage the first choice. Unless you like rotten unpleasant terrain or seek to conquer all the centennials . All I know is, if I did that traverse, well, there'd be a lot of purging.
We drove off Fremont Pass in the dark to the large parking area at Mayflower Gulch & car camped, stirring around sunrise on a cold clear & thinly clouded day. Atlantic Peak & its serrated ridge connecting to Fletcher Peak stood out from the start of Road 1178. I sure felt under-dressed from the change in temperature, but I knew I'd be warming up soon.
We left shortly afterwards following a road crossing Mayflower Creek to the top of the ridge which ultimately reached a small unranked 12er called Mayflower Hill. A faint trail skirted alongside it, & we faced a direct view of Pacific Peak, which appeared to have some nasty terrain on its west ridge, the route we were intended to go for. Nothing really changed our minds as we continued up it, finding the rock rather stable & the climb rather pleasant. The wind picked up as we neared the summit, a cold blast of early winter that would not let up.
Morning sunrise over the Pacific/Atlantic saddle obstructs our view of the ascent up Pacific.
Past the roughest sections, the last stretch up Pacific.
Finally atop! My interest in this peak was specifically on Pacific Tarn, which has the claim of being the highest named lake in the country at about 13,420'. It was quite close to the ridge that met up towards Atlantic, & we stopped at the lake shore to investigate its remote desolate beauty, tossing a few rocks in trying to get the perfect diver 'plop' sound before circling it to the east & climbing the gentle ridge before skirting towards the low saddle. From there, a 400 foot schlog up Atlantic.
True summit of Pacific Peak.
View southwest from the summit of Pacific Peak viewing Pacific Tarn & other paternoster lakes.
We ventured down to Pacific Tarn, claimed to be the highest named lake in the country.
Along the lakeshore. Pacific Peak rises 500' in background.
Colorado?! Naw, this is the Arctic Circle.
The plain ascent up Atlantic.
A trudge & a pludge, we plocketed our way up towards the summit & karoom pa-poom! Just like magic, we were there. Several rocky summits but the true summit was a little to the south. It was windy like crazy & we disliked every moment the sun went behind a cloud. Just like Pacific, this peak had no summit register. As we sat & ate, we considered traversing to Fletcher, but that would be an absolute nightmare based on how ridiculous the ridge was, infested w/ gargoyle-shaped spires & gendarmes. I could already envision the down climbing & four letter words if we attempted it. Another time, we would for sure master that peak, maybe via Wheeler Peak. Today just seemed to be brewing w/ some storms on the horizons. After all, looking west towards Holy Cross, it was getting a dusting of snow.
Summit view of Atlantic w/ a grandiose view of Quandary.
Look at all those ants atop Quandary. Might need to call Pest Control & have the summit sprayed w/ RAID.
The ridge down Atlantic was easy, following high up for about a mile before making it down to a gully where an old vertical mine shaft lay. We found a faint trail & headed down into the basin where the high bushes were surrounding Mayflower Creek. What a pain to navigate through, we eventually made it across the way to the old road & walked our way down to where we parked. Finding a spot along the creek, Tyler soaked in it a little bit to relieve aching muscles that endured 16 peaks in four consecutive days. And from there, being early in the day, we decided to call it an easy Sunday. Back home on the congested I-70 & prepping for work the next day.
Uh oh, writing this report w/ frantic fingers under a close deadline is making me not feel so great. Better stop what I'm doing while I go vomit. Adios for now, until my next spherical report!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):