Peak(s):  Owen B, Mt  -  13,058 feet
Afley Peak - 12646
Ruby Peak - 12644
Scarp Ridge - 12212
Peeler Peak - 12227
Date Posted:  06/11/2013
Date Climbed:   06/05/2013
Author:  Furthermore
 Snowy Ruby Range Loop  

Ruby Peak 12,644
Mount Owen 13,058
Purple Peak 12,820 (unranked)
Afley Peak 12,646
Scarp Ridge 12,212
Garfield Peak 12,100 (unranked)
Peeler Peak 12,227

June 05, 2013
~11.8 Miles, ~5,800 Gain
TH: ~0.4 miles short of Lake Irwin. Stopped due to snow drift. 2WD.
Max difficulty: Minor class 3.


Ever receive the question at an interview that goes something like this? "What is something you knew was a bad idea but you did it anyways?" Well, now I have a good answer. The drive from Gothic to the Lake Irwin road was pretty quick. To our surprise, there still were several snow drifts along the road. My car did an excellent job of plowing through them until we encountered a very large one just 0.3 miles short of the lake.

Knowing it was a bad idea to attempt to drive through the snow drift, we decided to give it a try anyways. Wow, did we underestimate the size of the snow drift and my car became stuck. Really stuck. After 2 hours of digging snow out from under the car, we freed the car. It's a good thing we kept a shovel in the car. Being a while since my last vehicular entrapment, it's always good to be practiced in vehicular extraction.


Since the road appeared to be untraveled and still had plenty of snow, we decided to camp in the road a few hundred yards from the show stopper snow drift. I set my alarm early and was hiking up the road towards Ruby Peak at 6:45 AM.

Lake Irwin arrived quickly and I was enamored by how much ice remained on the lake. Firm snow made travel to the base of Ruby's southeast ridge tolerable. Once I started climbing up the ridge, the snow was much softer and was a time consuming workout. Way more calories were burned on my ascent of Ruby than I would have desired.

Ice covered Lake Irwin.

Ruby and Owen from Lake Irwin.

Sections of no snow went well while sections of soft snow slowed me down. I eventually arrived on the summit of Ruby at 9:00 AM after several post-holes. With excellent weather, I took a bit of a break before heading toward Owen. The ridge connecting the two peaks had limited snow cover so I descended the Ruby's talus north slopes where I found a decent trail.

Good view of Ruby and Owen.

Southeast ridge of Ruby.

Looking back at Lake Irwin from Ruby. Plenty of snow still in that basin.

Owen from the summit or Ruby.

The trail took me to the Ruby-Owen saddle and onward up Owen's south ridge. Allowing me to make good time, the trail took me to the summit of Owen where I arrived at 10:00 AM. Not sticking around too long, I descended Owen's north ridge and up and over un-raked Purple Peak. As I descended off of Purple's north ridge, some class 2+ hiking was encountered.

Owen from the Ruby-Owen saddle. The true summit can not be seen.

Pretty good trail to the summit of Owen.

Looking east from the summit of Owen.

Purple Peak from the Owen's north ridge.

Owen from the summit of Purple

Afley from the summit of Purple.

Purple's north ridge.

Feeling a little tired, I took a bit of a break at the Purple-Afley saddle. Ascending Afley's south ridge provided no obstacles and I arrived on the summit at 11:00 AM. Returning to my pack, I took out my ice axe and started traversing on mellow snow slopes towards the Purple-Scarp Ridge saddle from the Purple-Afley saddle. Once at the Purple-Scrap Ridge saddle, the soft snow commenced and travel was tiring.

South ridge of Afley.

Purple and Owen from the summit of Afley.

Looking back at the Purple-Afley saddle on my snow traverse.

Long snow traverse to the Purple-Scarp Ridge saddle.

I arrived on the summit of Scarp Ridge at 12:20 PM. The wind had picked up so my stay on the summit was short. I descended off of Scarp Ridge's north ridge where travel was easy until I remembered a large notch in the ridge. Before reaching the notch, I descended off the ridge to the east and followed the base of a cliff band to the base of the notch in the ridge.

Owen-Purple-Afley from the summit of Scarp Ridge.

The notch in the ridge between Scarp Ridge and Garfield Peak.

Climbing directly up or down the notch would require 5th class climbing on extremely chossy rock. Even descending off the ridge, I knocked several boulders loose as I should have descended east off the ridge earlier.

Since Garfield Peak was en-route, I climbed up and over the unranked 12er. Descending Garfield's east ridge and up Peeler Peak, proved to be the most work of the day. Soft slushy snow mixed in with some small pine trees made travel a delight. Cursing commenced between my gasps for air and chest deep post-holes.

I arrived on the summit of Peeler Peak at 1:15 PM where I enjoyed some excellent views of Crested Butte and of the southern Elks. Now that I had a trench in the slush, travel back up and over to Scarp Ridge went quicker. The cursing was limited on my return.

Crested Butte from the summit of Peeler Peak.

Ruby, Owen, Purple, Afley and Scarp Ridge from the summit of Peeler.

On the summit of Scarp Ridge for a second time, I located a trail that descended off of Scarp Ridge's south ridge. The trail was easy to follow until ~11,500 when the trail became snow covered. Fortunately, I found a packed down snowmobile trail which led me back towards Lake Irwin.

Owen and Purple from my descent off of the south ridge of Scarp Ridge.

Eventually the snowmobile trail became hard to follow and I starting slogging through more slushy snow again. Relieved when I hit the road, I made descent time back to my parking area below the lake at 3:10 PM. One thing is for certain, I will choose peaks with less snow next week. Ugh.

Route Map.

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

 Comments or Questions

”Feeling a bit tired ....”
06/11/2013 17:04
Happy trails!


Almost there
06/11/2013 20:11
Good luck down the home stretch!

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