In trying to take advantage of the wonderful Gore Range in our backyard and link up a few more of these little-known traverses, my buddies J, Steve, Caleb (RoanMtnMan) & I set out for Pitkin Lake friday afternoon with the intentions of climbing East & West Partner Peaks (Peaks "V" & "U") and linking the traverse between the two peaks.
After some rain on the 4.5 mile pack into Pitkin Lake, we dried things out at camp with the help of a campfire. Pitkin Lake & the surrounding basin are gorgeous and while we could have done this trip in a long day, we opted to spend 2 nights in Pitkin basin to enjoy some camping. We began hiking around 6:15am on Saturday up East Partner's standard south ridge (mostly class 3 with maybe a few class 4 moves). The ridge was very fun and we topped out around 7:45am.
Camp at Pitkin Lake (11,400')
East Partner Peak (13,057') from Pitkin Lake
Me on East Partner's south ridge before the class 3 rock begins
J & Steve starting up East Partner's class 3 rock on the south ridge
J & Steve on East Partner's south ridge
J getting ready to cross a mini knife-edge on East Partner's south ridge
J & Steve before the mini knife-edge
Steve on the mini knife-edge
East Partner Peak summit (13,057)
The traverse to West Partner Peak
We then started the traverse over to West Partner Peak. There were many initial towers to climb up and over coming down off East Partner's west ridge which did not exactly make the climbing "fast" by any means. However, the rock is solid, for the most part, and there were some exciting downclimbs with decent exposure. I would say most of the climbing on the 1st half of this traverse from East Partner is class 3 with some class 4 moves. We stayed on the ridge proper for the most part unless a cliff blocked a descent and we had to find a way around.
J downclimbing an exposed section to the next notch while descending East Partner's west ridge
J climbing up and over another tower
Me on the traverse
This saddle almost represents the halfway point on the traverse and is about the only "easy" terrain on the entire traverse
Caleb was not feeling well due to a likely stomach bug, so he descended from the saddle between East & West Partner Peaks back to our camp at Pitkin Lake to rest. The real difficulties occured after the saddle and the 2nd half of the traverse on the ascent up to West Partner Peak. The climbing involved many exposed initial downclimbs and then some tricky traverses/upclimbs around and up several towers. I would say most of the climbing is class 3/4 with some potential low 5th class moves and all pretty exposed.
J climbing with Caleb on top of the last tower right before he descended back to camp
J & Steve downclimbing into a notch on some low 5th class rock
Steve downclimbing into another notch
Me climbing another tower out of the notch
Steve on an exposed traverse on the ridge proper to the top of another tower
Me slipping thru a crack we used to traverse to the next tower
Finally, we get on easier terrain on West Partner's southeast slopes (East Partner & the traverse in the background)
After the majority of the traverse and the real difficulties behind us, we hopped on West Partner's standard south ridge route and followed the fun class 3/4 ridge to the summit. I think we topped out around 10:45am yielding a traverse time of about 2 3/4 hours.
J & Steve climbing down into a notch on West Partner's south ridge
J & Steve climbing up and out of the notch on the south ridge
The remaining portion of West Partner's south ridge to the summit
West Partner Peak summit (13,041')
We then retraced our steps back down West Partner's south ridge for some distance past where we hopped on the south ridge from the traverse. After some fun "easy" scrambling down lower on West Partner's long south ridge, we exited left (east) and made our way back down to our camp at Pitkin Lake. We found Caleb feeling better after he took a nap and we had a great afternoon and evening of swimming and fishing as well as a raging campfire that evening. The rain held off the entire day and night.
Heading back down the lower part of West Partner's south ridge (Pitkin Lake below)
The Partner Traverse on the descent of West Partner's south ridge. The most difficult sections are in the center (East Partner on the far right)
Close-up of the most difficult sections of the traverse on the West Partner half of the traverse
Caleb showing us how its done
Nothing like a refreshing dunk into an alpine lake
A great weekend with my buds in one of my most favorite ranges. The Partner Traverse was very exciting and I highly recommend it for the experienced scrambler. It was great to get to the tops of the Partner Peaks and really see how to link up Ripsaw Ridge to the north and then to Peaks W, etc and over to the Grand Traverse to the south. We always love getting into the Gores where you will likley see very few people and have the peaks all to yourselves. I hope this report is useful to some who would like to try this traverse.
Thanks for reading