Peak(s):  "Pk C"  -  13,220 feet
"Pk C Prime"  -  13,100 feet
"Pk D"  -  13,047 feet
"Pk E"  -  13,220 feet
"Pk F"  -  13,230 feet
Date Posted:  09/13/2011
Date Climbed:   09/10/2011
Author:  jbchalk
Additional Members:   RoanMtnMan
 Ripsaw Ridge, Gore Range  

As a Vail local, the more time I spend in the rugged Gore Range, the more appreciative & grateful I am to have these peaks so close to home. After over a decade of driving all over this state to climb 14ers over & over & over again, I think finally I'm more than content at exploring and climbing Gore Peaks for the time being. Also, after our Kilimanjaro climb this August, helping my wife, Kristine, finish climbing all of the 14ers this summer, and with Fall knocking on the door, I am extremely psyched to get back to our local peaks and in the heart of the Gore Range. I'd always wanted to traverse the Ripsaw Ridge from the first time I had heard about it. Upon reading Brian Miller's (lordhelmut) TR on the Ripsaw from July 2010, I was extra energized to get this traverse. The Ripsaw is a ridge extending from Peak C (as its northern terminus) south to Peak G. However, in theory, this ridge continues south from Peak G onto Peaks H, J, P, West Partner (Peak U), East Partner Peak (Peak V) and so forth. The Ripsaw is a very sustained class 3/4 ridge over several miles where some low class 5 moves are almost unavoidable and typically welcomed in our case to add some excitement. It always seems my initial plan of traverses is a little over ambitious thinking we could do Peak C to West Partner Peak in a day or so...yeah right. But, we did complete the proper part of Ripsaw from Peak C to Peak G. Peak G to West Partner will have to wait for another day. We did the Partner Traverse (East to West Partner) last July 2010.

Ripsaw Ridge (Peak C - Peak G) from Meadow Mtn near Minturn in May, 2009

Good buds J, Caleb (RoanMtnMan), & myself backpacked in to the base of Peak C and set up camp on a nice rocky rib in the trees. Having climbed Peak C a few times via its SW couloir, I knew the turnoff pretty well and where we should camp to get an early start up Peak C. Amazingly, on the backpack in, I found my wife's knit cap on a rock that she must have lost over a year ago on our climb of Mt. Powell when she took a stumble across one of the creeks.

Kristine's dirty knit cap

We got a 5:30am start out of camp and made quick work of the hike into the upper tarn-filled basin below Peak C's SW couloir in the dark. Climbing Peak C's SW couloir is most definitely easier & more pleasant in the Spring when it is snow-filled as I have done before.

Caleb climbing Peak C's SW couloir and almost to the notch between Peaks C & C-Prime

We then reached the notch between Peaks C & C-Prime and took a left up the fun class 4 rock which then turns into class 2/3 rock to Peak C's summit.

J at the notch between Peaks C & C-Prime and Caleb starting the class 4 rock

We had a great view of our day's work of the Ripsaw Ridge to the south.

J & Caleb climbing Peak C's south ridge w/ Ripsw Ridge behind

Piney Lake from Peak C's summit

Peak C summit (13,220')

Descending back to the notch between Peaks C & C-Prime, we then climbed down the very loose Peak C SW couloir several hundred feet to the access rock gully up to Peak C-Prime's south ridge. This access gully is about 1/3 of the way down from the notch between Peaks C & C-Prime. It is loose as well but soon splits and we followed the steeper yet more stable left branch (class 4 rock) to reach a point just south of Peak C-Prime's summit block. From this point, it is a fun class 3/4 scramble to Peak C-Prime's summit on its SE face.

The access ramp on Peak C-Prime's SE face to gain some nice class 3/4 rock to the summit

J & Caleb climbing class 3/4 rock after the access ramp

Me sitting on top of Peak C-Prime's summit block

Once we descended Peak C-Prime's summit block, the ridge over to Peak D's summit block is probably the easiest section of the Ripsaw (mostly class 2).

Downclimbing Peak C-Prime's summit block to the Peak C-Prime/D saddle

On the ridge to Peak D

Once at the base of Peak D's summit block, we scrambled up to a fun class 4 dihedral and then skirted a gendarme around to the southwest.

Our approximate route up Peak D's north ridge

Ascending the class 4 didehral up Peak D's north ridge

J looking up at our approximate route up the remaining north ridge of Peak D (after skirting the gendarme)

Caleb climbing to Peak D's summit

Peak D summit (13,047') w/ a subsummit of Peak E, Peak E itself, & Peak G behind (right to left)

The downclimb from Peak D's summit to the Peak D/E saddle is fairly straightforward and mostly class 2/3. Once at the lowpoint between Peaks D & E, you can ascend a 5th class chimney for 15' or descend 50-100 vertical feet to the west and ascend easier terrain. We then ascended up to a highpoint on mostly class 2/3 terrain and skirted another gendarme to the southwest to reach the base of Peak E's subsummit. Taking Peak E's subsummit straight on would be well into middle 5th class climbing and so as lordhelmut suggested in his TR, we skirted around to the southwest and ascended class 3/4 rock up a gully to the Peak E subsummit. From Peak E's subsummit, we descended to the saddle before the final climb up Peak E. The route up Peak E I took was class 4 with maybe a few low 5th class moves but easier class 3 and some class 4 rock is further around to the right or southwest.

J on the Peak E subsummit with my approximate route up Peak E behind from the Peak E/Peak E subsummit saddle (Peak G is to the right)

Peak E summit (13,220')

Peak E was the only summit we found with a summit register and the last person who signed in was from October 1, 2010. The person before her was lordhelmut in July 2010. Goes to show how little these peaks are climbed. The traverse from Peak E to Peak F is a bit complex but in general we stayed a hundred or more vertical feet to the ridge's right (southwest) side and crossed over rock rib after rock rib and into gully after gully. Taking the ridge proper traverse from Peak E to Peak F would be impractical and unrealistic given its multiple mid-high 5th class gendarmes and towers. However, once we reached the base of the final ascent up to Peak F, we took the ridge proper and enjoyed some of the best class 4/low 5th class climbing of the day.

Looking back at the traverse from Peak E to Peak F

Climbing up Peak F's north ridge

J topping out on Peak F

Another pic of J on the Peak E subsummit w/ our approximate routes up Peak F (right) and further south Peak G (left)

Peak F summit (13,220') w/ Peak G behind

We then descended off to the south via class 3/4 rock to the Peak F/G saddle staying again slightly to the right of the ridge crest.

Caleb descending Peak F to the Peak F/G saddle

After eating a PB&J, we ascended the ridge up to Peak G and then skirted a gendarme to the left thru a notch on the ridge's left (northeast) side. Tackling Peak G's remaining ridge crest to the summit would be mid 5th class climbing with high potential for big rockfall, so again we skirted around to the ridge's right (southwest) side and ascended class 3/4 rock with a few low 5th class moves to the summit (see our approximate route up Peak G in picture #23).

J climbing Peak G's western slopes

Peak G summit (13,260'), our final summit of the day

Looking north at Ripsaw Ridge from the Peak G summit w/ Mt. Powell at far right

While we had the motivation in us to continue the ridge south to Peak H, it was 1:30pm and we could see thunderheads and rain falling to the west. Thus, we descended back to the Peak F/G saddle.

J looking south to Peak H and beyond from the Peak G summit

Per lordhelmut's July 2010 TR, I knew we could descend the southwestern couloir to the valley floor from the Peak F/G saddle.

Our descent couloir from the Peak F/G saddle 3000' down to the Piney River valley floor.

The couloir was indeed tough on the knees as expected, but eventually we reached the grassy meadows only about 1000' above the valley floor and took a well-earned rest. Another 45 min to an hour of descending down steep, grassy slopes and thru forests brought us to the Upper Piney Lake trail where we took a right. Another 2 miles and 45 minutes later, we arrived back at camp pretty happy with our day's work.

All in all, it was a great adventure with two of my best buds in what is becoming my favorite range in Colorado. I am looking forward to a few more trips and traverses in the Gores this Fall. I hope this TR can be of use to potential Ripsaw Ridgers when combined with lordhelmut's TR from over a year ago. I want to thank lordhelmut for his TR which provided us some direction on the Ripsaw.

Thanks for reading,


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

Fine Effort
09/13/2011 18:42
Great TR, thanks for posting.


Hell yeah!
09/13/2011 18:46
Nice work Brandon, sounds like you guys threw some more scrambling in there. I'm flattered you used my TR as some sort of a resource and glad you were able to negotiate some sections, good to know all these TR's are used for good in addition to relaying our adventures. When I get more time and don't have to worry about my boss catching me on all day, I'll read it more in depth.

One question though. You mention the Gores are ”becoming” your favorite range. What will it take to make them ”the” favorite range? Eagle's Nest to Buffalo multi day, entire range traverse? That might top your Everest outing......


Awesome job!
09/13/2011 18:48
What a big day, impressive stuff. I actually climbed Peak C that day and thought I was the only person for a miles and miles (summited at 10:30). You guys must have already been a couple peaks away by then...


Thanks fellas.
09/13/2011 19:29
Brian, ok, ok, ok man...the Gores ARE my favorite range! It takes the cake. I love the San Juans, but Gores take it. Thanks for making me realize this. And, yes, and Eagle's Nest to Buffalo mult-day traverse would beat the Everest outing no doubt

Nedryarson, nice you climbed C...yeah, I think we topped out on C around 8:15-8:30am. Can't quite remember though.


Fun Traverse
09/13/2011 20:39
I traversed the ridgeline in late summer (1992?) with a buddy - after climbing Peak C on July 4th - we scrambled up to the Peak D-Peak F saddle, over to Peak D, then all the way to H. Tons of fun exposure and peeks over the North faces. Sad you found only a single old CMC summit register - we found ones on E & F. Lots of fun back then!


Fun-looking route
09/13/2011 21:32
Thanks for the write-up! Looks like you guys are having a great summer.


It's Friday, it's Friday...
09/13/2011 21:43
Great write up B. It was a brilliant day for sure. The Gores are remote and special, so maybe you shouldn't be broadcasting the facts? This truly is a classic CO traverse for those that are into this sort of thing. Many more to come buddy.


09/13/2011 22:45
This looks like a fine outing. I really need to visit The Gores soon (before helmut kicks my a--). Thanks for putting this up. Good stuff.


09/14/2011 00:15
and how bout that register on E from 1948? In pretty amazing condition to boot. I found that fascinating.


nicely done
09/14/2011 01:17
Nice report! I was reading Helmut's TR on this ridge not too long ago, and now yours! Good stuff, thanks for posting.
I was thinking of going up Pk D soon.


Another Gore ambassador
09/14/2011 01:30
Helmut takes the cake, but this outing really makes me want to go back there more and more. Sorry, Lord Gore.
I really enjoyed this report. Thanks.


Great TR!
09/14/2011 02:13
Wow! I was actually on Powell that day. We didn't see anyone on any other mountain nearby- not even Nedryarson on Peak C. Strange!


Helmut does take the cake...
09/14/2011 13:54 Lord Gore most definitely.

Ryan, indeed a very fun many traverses in this range, its mind-boggling. Been a great summer. Hope yours has been as well.

Caleb, maybe you are right and we shouldn't be spraying all our Gore adventures all over the internet.

Brian, yep, that Peak E register is an antique! Aint no PVC pipe like all of today's 14er registers.

Chicago Transplant

Good Times
09/14/2011 18:03
Great stuff Brandon, so far on the Ripsaw I only have climbed C, but getting across the ridge to G (or even H, which has a really mellow looking descent to upper Piney BTW) is on the priority list, maybe if we get an Indian Summer I can still squeeze it in this year.


Indian Summer...
09/14/2011 22:39
...I can only hope for, Mike. Don't get me wrong, I like winter activities, but I just LOVE a long Indian Summer for some nice clear, cool, crisp Fall climbing. I hope you get this ridge this year - you would love it. Yeah, it did look like H has a mellow descent to Upper Piney and while that was the long goal of the day, it just didn't happen. Another trip for sure.


Wow, what a day
07/29/2013 18:29
Thanks for the reminder that I really need to get out there and check this place out.

Excellent outing!


Sunday stroll
09/07/2018 09:32
Hey Brandon, how long - moving time - would you approximate did this take you from Piney TH and back? Looking at it for Sunday. Running the approach and exit.

My partner audibled on my Rock Creek to Deluge Keller-Grand plan.


09/07/2018 11:16
...bringing up this ancient TR here! I like it. Gosh, I'd probably bank on 4-5 hrs on the traverse (Peak C summit to Peak G summit) itself mainly due to navigational challenges. I mean maybe a 12 hr RT day?


A big thanks
09/14/2018 14:30
Hi Brandon, I just wanted to thank you for this trip report. It was great beta for me on a solo run of the ripsaw yesterday. Your photos and info made for smooth navigation. Thanks again!


Hey, no worries!
09/15/2018 13:47
Happy to help ya with this old TR of mine! Glad it was useful! Congrats on Ripsaw!

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