| Long Snow-free Sawatch Ridge
May 14, 2009
Rinker Peak 13,783
~7.5 Miles, ~5300 Gain
From my last climb of Ervin Peak and Mt. Blaurock, Rinker Peak looked good from the summit of those peaks so I figured I would give it a try. After visiting some family in Ohio for the past three days, my wake up call at 4:40 AM wasn't very painful. I made the little over two hour drive to the Willis Gulch trailhead off of Independence Pass and was hiking up the Willis Gulch trail by 7:30 AM. I followed the Willis Gulch trail for about 1/3 of mile where I started heading up the long north-northeast ridge of Twin Peaks.
As I hoped, there was very little snow so snowshoes were not necessary. I climbed steeply in the trees until about ~11,500. Close to treeline there was some snow to negotiate, but with some careful footing I was able to avoid post-holing. From here, the steepness seemed to ease but was still demanding class 2 talus as I climbed up and over Twin Peaks. It should be called three peaks. I took a break on the top of Twin Peaks where Rinker still looked far away. I descended the gentle southwest ridge of Twin Peaks and made the last push up the steep rocky class 2 east slope of Rinker. As I neared the summit, the wind was howling; I summited around 10:50 AM. The wind wasn't this bad on Twin Peaks so my break on Rinker was short. From the summit, the views of Mt. Hope and Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata were excellent.
After starting my decent off of Rinker, the wind seemed to die down. I headed back up to the summit of Twin Peaks, over the two summits and before climbing the third summit, I decided to glissade down Sunset Gulch. The glissade made for quick easy travel but around ~10,400, I encountered a short 20 foot cliff. It was easy to down climb but within another 100 yards there was another much larger cliff which was not so easy to down climb. To avoid this second cliff, I climbed some loose rock and dirt to the east to get out of the gulch. Once I reached easier less threatening ground out of the gulch, I made a descending traverse east where I found the trail to the Sunset Mine. I followed this trail back to the car where I arrived at 12:50 PM.
First view of Twin Peaks.
Summit ridge to Twin Peaks.
Final ridge to Rinker.
La Plata from the summit of Rinker.
Ervin and Blaurock from the summit of Rinker
Mt. Hope from the summit of Rinker.
Twin Peaks from Rinker.
The not so easy cliff.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):