Mt. Bross - "Dolly Varden Gully"
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:||Class 2, Easy Snow|
Ski: Novice, D2 / R1 / II
|Total Gain:||2,900 feet|
|RT Length:||4.00 miles|
|County Sheriff:||Park: 719-836-2494
Take Colorado 9 to the town of Alma. In the middle of town, look for a small sign for the road to Kite Lake. Turn here and drive a bit through a residential area. Drive just under 3 miles up towards Kite Lake and take a hard right onto Forest Road 415. Drive 2.75 miles to a parking lot near the Mineral Park mine in Dolly Varden Gulch. This is a large, open gravel area with plenty of parking.
See Photo #1 for an overview of the route. The winter (and usually spring) closure for the road to the Mineral Park trailhead is 3 miles below the trailhead at the Paris Mill location. Walk, ski or drive to the Mineral Park trailhead parking area. Continue northwest up the road, pass the mining area. After a short distance, reach a road junction that may not be visible due to snow. The main road goes off to the right and climbs to the Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area and is the road used on Mt. Bross Route #1. Continue straight to enter the "Dolly Varden Gully" (Photo #2) which is really the upper portions of Dolly Varden Gulch and is a major drainage for Mt. Bross and "South Bross."
If the gully is not fully covered with snow, the climb may not be worth it or very much fun. Also, water can flow under the snow, so it's important make a safety decision if water can be seen or heard. Begin your ascent! The route is obvious - Photo #3; Just follow the gully towards Bross. Ascend a few hundred feet and the gully turns slightly left near 12,000' - Photo #4. Continue straight up the gully to see a right turn in the gully near 12,800' - Photo #5. Once you reach the turn, most of the remaining route comes into view - Photo #6. The gully continues up to about 13,600' and usually does not hold snow to the ridge between "South Bross" (left) and Mt. Bross (right).
Taken from just above the turn and south of the gully, Photo #7 is a good look at the remaining route. Near 13,400', there's a road that crosses the gully. Above here, the gully gets a bit steeper and the snow may not last much longer. You can either leave the right side of the gully and climb directly up the slope below the summit or continue to the top of the gully before angling towards the summit. The best way to the summit is usually to pick the most continuous snow you can see and keep climbing north-northwest towards the top. Photo #8 and Photo #9 provide another look at the options. Generally, the direct route up the slope has snow higher up. Photo #10, Photo #11 and Photo #12 were taken on the slope just below the summit. After finally topping out near 14,100', the summit comes into view - Photo #13. Walk across the broad summit to reach the high point.
Photo #14 and Photo #15 look down the gully. It holds continuous snow well into May and is usually an easy climb using crampons, snowshoes or skis with skins. If the snow is good, you may be able to ski from the summit all the way down to the Mineral Park trailhead.
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