| Southern Sawatch Fun without people
Day 1 (Warm up)
Castle Rock 9,792
~1.5, 800 Gain
Carbonate Peak 13,663
Cyclone Mountain 13,596
Cronin Peak 13,870
"Low Carb" 13,591
Grizzly Peak 13,708
Calico Mountain 12,949
~11.6 Miles, 5,300 Gain
Since I had only two days off I had to find a trip that was somewhat short and close to home, so I decided on some 13eeners in the southern Sawatch. Joining me on this trip was a friend from work who hadn't climbed any peaks. We left Denver around 4 PM and started our drive to Buena Vista. Our plan was to do a warm up on Castle Rock and then drive to the trailhead and camp out.
Castle Rock is neat peak located just south of US 285 before reaching Buena Vista. I have driven past it many times thinking about how good of a climb it might be. Now was my chance to figure it out. As we neared Buena Vista, we drove around on Chaffee county road 187 and parked on the southwest side of the peak. The first part of the hike went well but as we started up a gully to reach the summit, the gully was filled with nasty thorned bushes. When the bushes seemed to get out of control, we veered right and gained the ridge which ended up being a nice class 3-4 scramble to the summit. Good views, neat rock, but crappy bushes. I don't think I will be back.
After climbing Castle Rock, we continued our drive to the remains of the town of Shavano, and camped out just west of Cyclone Creek. Since it was getting dark, I was unable to find the actual trailhead that would take us up Cyclone Creek. With the usual early wake-up, we started hiking from our tent around 6 AM without a trail. We headed north-northeast in the trees and after crossing Cyclone Creek we found the trail that took us up the valley. At ~11,000 we ditched our nice trail for more bushes and started up the south-southeast ridge of Carbonate. The class 2 hike up Carbonate was enjoyable as we arrived at the summit around 8 AM. At the summit, the wind was blowing which was chilly, and it seems that winter isn't far away.
My original plan was to climb Carbonate-Cyclone-Grizzly-Calico, but when I arrived at the summit of Cyclone, Cronin looked close and very easy to tag on. My friend, Ken, decided to pass on Cronin and hang out at the summit of "Low Carb" 13,591 and rest. I quickly returned and we scoped out the traverse to Grizzly.
The hardest part of this hike was the down climb from "Low Carb" to the saddle between "Low Carb" and Grizzly. The rock was loose and some class 3 moves were required. Because the rock seemed to be more solid on the ridge crest, we stayed on the crest. Now that the crux was over, the hiking was easy to the summit of Grizzly which ended up being my 75th 13eener of the year. At this point we only have one more peak left, and it is on the way back to the car.
By the time we reached to summit of Calico, Ken was pretty spent, naturally. Fortunately we were somewhat close to the car. Then we started down the southeast ridge of Calico toward point 12,274 and decided that skiing a scree gully on the northeast side of the ridge was the best way down. When we arrived back in the valley, we found a very primitive trail that took us toward the car but the trail ended too soon. Shortly thereafter, we headed south and found the main road which took us back to the car.
Nice work Ken on climbing 4 peaks on his first time out!!
Castle Rock viewed from the north.
Gully we took up Castle Rock.
Morning sun on Carbonate.
Looking back down Carbonate.
Cronin from "Low Carb."
Looking down on the cruxy part between "Low Carb" and Grizzly.
Ken working his way down from "Low Carb."
Looking back at the crux.
Calico from Grizzly.
Descending off of Grizzly.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):