Southeast RidgePosted On:
2020-11-29, By: supranihilestInfo:
We started at the bottom of Nellie Creek Road. The road is part dry, part mud, part snow, part ice. It's a bit of a mess but no traction is needed, all the ice sheets can be skirted on snow. We put snowshoes on past the creek crossing. At the junction a bit higher up we went right; left continues to Nellie Creek Trailhead for Uncompahgre Peak. There's another creek crossing of the unnamed east fork of Nellie Creek shortly after the junction, then it's following an old, permanently closed 4WD road all the way to treeline. Snow is deep on the road and without fresh tracks it may be difficult to follow. Stay on the road as it zig-zags its way up and across a third and fourth creek crossing. You'll eventually have to cross some steep slopes that are steep enough to avalanche. Be very cautious here. Past the avalanche slopes continue on the road, pass an old cabin, and then emerge at treeline. This is about 4.75 miles from the start. Things open up here, and there's a somewhat confusing network of roads in this basin. We went left up a couple of switchbacks before heading east on a road that eventually ended high in the basin. We snowshoed higher, going northeast towards a big outcrop of rock along 13,091's southeast ridge. We went around it then followed the ridge past some bizarre blocks of volcanic rock arbitrarily plopped on the ridge, then up steep scree and loose talus to 20 or so feet below the summit plateau. There's not much snow on the ridge til this point, then there's a short Class 2+ to Class 3 scramble and some steep snow to get to the summit. Traction was not used but an ice axe was useful, though it might not be mandatory. The summit plateau is big and flat but it was easy to find the highest point. If 13,091 is your only objective then return the way you came.
Bonus 12er, Crystal Peak: far along the ridge to the south is Crystal Peak. Simply walk over to it after descending 13,091. It has some of the best views of any peak I've been on, Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre are breathtaking from the summit. To descend return to the saddle with 13,091 then follow a snowy trail north across an open slope to rejoin your ascent route up 13,091.