Peak(s):  PT 13,795  -  13,795 feet
"Campbell Creek Pk"  -  13,454 feet
Date Posted:  07/25/2011
Modified:  07/27/2011
Date Climbed:   07/21/2011
Author:  bergsteigen
 Following the Herd Path - Campbell & 13,795  

Campbell Creek Peak and Pt 13,795

Route: Campbell Creek up (no trail), Grizzly Gulch down
Mileage: 8
Elevation Gain: 3,717'
Partner: Solo

Having been 0.25 miles away from 13,795 on my last trip up Grizzly Gulch and Handies a few years ago, I wanted to find a way to the summit of this one. The nasty steep scree route that I ascended last time was not going to happen. I would go down it, just not up. With Campbell Creek Peak just down the ridge, I was wondering if I could string these two together and possibly add in Whitecross Mountain along the way (another I missed in my Tour de'Handies).

Only Furthermore had a TR for these two, and mentions the ridge proper went to class 5. I was undeterred, I would find a way. Even if it meant dropping some elevation to do it. So with a few days planned in the San Juans, I head up the road to Grizzly Gulch to check out my options.

Once at the trailhead, there are only 3 other solo vehicles in attendance, not bad for a Wed night. First part of the decision tree on this one is to bushwhack on the west of the stream or to walk the road and cross the stream. I decide to drive down and test out the stream crossing options. Next to the open gulch that I was going to ascend was a non-marsh or chasm stream section. It was deep and running fast, so I removed the leg sections of my pants and started to wade across. At the deepest and fastest running part of the stream it was difficult to keep my balance. The water was to my mid thigh! I got across, but it wasn't pretty. After recrossing, I marked it with a stick for the morning.

Back at the trailhead I readied myself for the next day and went over my options. Walking the road and crossing the stream would be the fastest option. I would have to strip to my skivvies to cross the stream (the pants I was going to wear do not have a zip off option), as otherwise I would be soaked. But I would risk a watery death if I slipped in the night on the crossing. The bushwhack didn't look too bad, only a few places of difficulty. But it would take a lot more time to find my way in the dark. I went back and forth between both options for a while.

In the morning, I chose the bushwack. Of course, I forgot that I would also have to cross Grizzly Gulch creek too. Darn, forgot about this one. I had to remove my freshly put on boots to cross with my sandals. Just wide and deep enough to not risk soaked boots for the next 4 days of hiking. I also went from 100% clean to rather filthy 10 minutes into my vacation as I swam through dirty willows. Oh well, I was going to be dirty eventually! From there I followed a path of least resistance as I stayed as high above the stream below as I could. I found quite a few game trails that were quite useful.

Once at Campbell Creek (north branch), the sun was brightening things up quickly. An hour had passed since I started, and I was later than planned. Walking the stream up went pretty quickly, as all the undergrowth was missing. I found another game trail as I cut through some woods over to the main stream. Here I found two dilapidated cabins. Further up the stream I ran into even more wildflowers than below.

Start of Campbell Creek

Middle Campbell Creek

Stream crossing

Playing in the water

Once in the upper basin I was presented with a plethora of lush flowers to take some photos of, as I reoriented myself. From here I had to travel far enough up into the valley to find a non-cliff to go up the north face of Campbell. It reminds me a lot of the west face route up Columbia, but without the thousands of feet turning it into a complete scree mess. Nearing the top of the slope, I found some more game trail tracks to follow up to the ridge proper. I was only a short distance from the summit, so I overshot a little to the east, but not too bad.




North Face of Campbell - Reminds me of west face of Columbia

Carson group - That's for Saturday

Took only a short break on the summit, as it had taken a lot longer to get to than planned. I saw what I thought were two humans near the ridge difficulties, and I thought it would be nice to get some beta on the crossing. But after making the quick walk over, I found that they must have been of the four footed variety.

As I had been following a variety of game trails all day, I thought I may as well continue. The game trail skirted the ridge rocks to the south and on a fairly steep talus/scree slope. But it seemed that many animals had used this path, and therefore it was pretty concave. I stayed relatively close to the rock walls as I traversed across, following animal tracks all along the way.

Looking back on Campbell Creek Peak

Looking at the start of the ridge difficulties

The lower traverse

Looking up at the ridge difficulties

My trail

Once on the other side, I didn't think the work-around was all that tough. Hmmm smart animals, silly humans? From here it was a simple stroll over to 13,795.

13,674 & Half Peak


Looking back on Campbell Creek Peak and traverse

I relished the summit for a little while, as it is one that takes a bit more work to get to. I could see a bunch of tiny human forms on the summit of Handies. The current cloud development would also prevent a summit of Whitecross Mountain this day. I would have more than enough time to descend to the trail head, just not with another summit. So after a time, I descended the familiar slope down to the scree slope from hell. Though this time, it was a ton of fun to scree ski it!

Flowery Handies

13,795 from start of descent

Ahh the familiar turquoise rubber ducky!



Whitecross!!! For another day, again

Back down in Grizzly Gulch, I could take my time an enjoy the flowers. There was only one other group near by, the only other people I had seen all day.


Handies from Grizzly Gulch

I like this flower

Did I mention, I like this flower?

So nice to have a human trail to follow!

A pretty stream

Another pretty purple flower

2 out of 3 ain't bad! I'll be back for Whitecross some other time.

Coming Soon
Day 2: Baldy Cinco group
Day 3&4: Carson 6-pack & Coney Island

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

 Comments or Questions

07/25/2011 21:55
Very nice report and great pictures. Thanks!


07/26/2011 00:25
Wow great shots! The rubber ducky = awesome. Sweet views of Half Peak and Unc/Wet. Great work! Looks like a fun loop!!!!


Beautiful Pics!
07/26/2011 02:33
I love the shots of the Columbines and Indian Paintbrush... Incredible!


07/26/2011 05:41
Beautiful shots!!


Neglected Peaks
07/26/2011 13:37
Thanks for the report, bergsteigen. Many of the peaks from your three day Lake City siege are on my list for late summer/early fall so I am looking forward to the other writeups. It seems like the San Juans hold a lifetime of climbing options. Now, if I could only find a job down there, I'd be all set.


The ridge.
07/26/2011 21:28
It's good to know that ridge goes well below the rough spots. Sweet flower photos!


Stunning photos!
07/26/2011 21:45
Yeah, the little elephant head flowers are some of my favorites too!


07/26/2011 23:54
This was a fun little loop to do, and rather quiet. A siege is about the only way I can justify the drive to the San Juans! I probably should start working on planning the next one

Papillon - I noticed your name on the summit register of Bent & Carson peaks. The remainder are fun!


07/27/2011 20:42
I see you're on a 13er kick also - let's hit up a bunch this summer! I enjoyed reading this. And the flower photos are gorgeous. When can you get out again?

One of my favorite Lake City peaks
08/10/2015 12:37
I lived in Lake City for five years and UN 13,454 (evidently called Campbell Creek Peak) is on my short list of favorites, but I have another good route recommend for you to try. We just visited last weekend and I climbed it a second time, this time linking it to UN 13,795 (also my second time up it).
Campell Creek is a good way to climb these peaks (can’t go wrong there), but I climb it from Cataract Gulch up the East Ridge. It starts out with a bit of bushwacking, then the cliffs on either side come in close, you go up through the "chute" and onto a prominent ridge with great views – well below treeline still. The ridge gets down to 15 feet wide in a place or two and there’s some very minor scrambling, then the ridge opens up into the summit cone and you push on to the top through steep grass and rocks (again, minor scrambling).
Good peak, no matter how you get there. Probably won’t ever see anyone else on it.

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