South RidgePosted On:
2020-08-18, By: supranihilestInfo:
Trail from Molas Pass to the D&SNGRR tracks and then to Elk Creek Trailhead is in great shape. Once heading up Elk Creek there are three avalanche debris piles, each one getting larger as you go upstream. There are plastic flags to follow through the debris. Past that there's plenty of deadfall all the way up to Vestal Basin. Prior to reaching Vestal Basin itself you'll come close to Vestal Creek and see a huge talus gully ahead and above you. This is your route into the basin with Electric, Graystone, Garfield, and Point Pun. Instead of heading directly towards it continue on the trail until you're in a tiny boulder field that obscures the trail. There will be a campsite near the creek to your right. Cross the creek here and then make an ascending traverse towards the talus gully from before. From this point on you will be on rock, often loose, until you're back at this exact spot. When we went up the gully it was full of snow - the snow is probably permanent - but there was a huge moat on climber's right side we snuck up at Class 2+. Continue into the upper basin on boulders and talus and then across massive, low angle slabs to the upper, unnamed lake. We contoured on the lake's west side for a bit and then made an ascending traverse under the cliffs of Garfield's south ridge until we came to a giant gully that ascended directly to the ridge. This was Class 2+ to Class 3 and very loose in spots. Once on the ridge things become more difficult and sustained but also more solid. Scramble atop the ridge on Class 3 quartzite and just enjoy the good times. There's a ton of Class 2+ and a ton of Class 3 on the ridge with one or two notable bypasses in notches, both of which we made on the east side of the ridge, but otherwise we stuck to the crest the entire time. The first summit you reach is the true summit so there's no need to scramble over to the second summit unless you really want to. Reverse your route back to the upper basin and on to other peaks or back to camp.