Clinton Pk - 13,857 feet
McNamee Pk - 13,780 feet
Traver Pk - 13,852 feet
Clinton Pk - 13,857 feet
McNamee Pk - 13,780 feet
Traver Pk - 13,852 feet
|CMT Loop - Walking The Continental Divide|
Starting Point: Montgomery Reservoir Parking, 1.4 miles from CO-9/CR-4 (10,920')
Peaks Climbed (in order of ascent): Clinton (13,857'), McNamee (13,780'), Traver (13,852')
RT Distance: 10.2 miles
Elevation Gain/Loss: 3,470 feet
R Point Rating (per Gerry Roach): 241 RP
RT Time: 6 hours (including a total of 45 minutes on the three summits)
My goal today was to answer the call of the mountains! But that goes without saying so while I was at it, I was hoping to climb three Centennial 13ers in the Mosquito range. Technically speaking, Clinton Peak, the first and only ranked one of the three, was actually on the Continental Divide which separates the Mosquito range from the Tenmile. The others rounding up the cast were McNamee Peak and Traver Peak which shared a high continuous ridge with Clinton allowing for a classic circuit provided the conditions were right.
I parked at the Montgomery reservoir parking and started the hike at 7:45 a.m. which is early by my standards.
On paper, and by the R point rating, this should've been an easier loop than it was. But there are always mitigating circumstances, some unavoidable and others...
For starters, you will get wet on this hike this time of year, even when the weather conditions are fine. Bill's excellent instructions require following the 4WD road all the way to Wheeler Lake, about 3.5 miles from where I'd parked and I figured I would make short work of this stretch by running. This didn't quite go down as planned, for the road was riddled with puddles, most of which required a bush-whacking detour.
Some of these detours were short, and on others you wandered into a wet bog, a moor, a marshland...you get the idea.
Then there was the temptation, admittedly entirely avoidable, to take trail segments leading to nowhere, such as this that lead up to a waterfall. Yes, the scenery was nice but the route was a no-go!
The largest hurdle was a long stretch of water that flowed over the rocky road and the best option was to rock step one's way across it.
Past this point, the encounters with raging waters subsided and I paused briefly to take stock of the surroundings and enjoy the views. Indeed, the late summer rains had done this valley a world of good - vibrant green was the order of the day!
In particular, the sight of Mt. Democrat rising majestically out of the valley to the south was a memorable one.
The rough 4WD road ends close to Wheeler Lake at 12,168', and this trek took me an hour and 15 minutes, roughly twice as long as I'd anticipated. So much for summarily dispatching that opening segment!
I had effectively squandered any advantage of that relatively early start and, with the 50% forecast of afternoon thunderstorms, knew I'd have to make up time gaining the ridge to Clinton to have a shot at making all three peaks on the agenda. First order of business, though, was to follow the faint trail that petered out as it reached the gully between the cliffs southwest of Wheeler.
The rocky gully was a welcome change from the water-logged road and I eagerly scrambled through this section.
No trail exists on the remainder of the route but I knew my path would be more obvious once I had climbed into the large basin atop the gully. Within minutes of crossing the large rocky area above the gully, I was rewarded with the first view of Traver Peak and its gentle east ridge.
Traver would be the last summit of the day and its east ridge would be my descent route but there was still much work ahead before I could think about that. Besides, the weather may have other plans.
The correct route from the basin requires staying close to the stream up to 12,800', then contouring northwest out of the basin and finally ascending Clinton's south slopes. I veered away from the stream and started my ascent too early, climbing instead Clinton's southeast slopes. The thing with GPS units is that they're only useful if you actually use them!
This slope was fairly steep and the rocks were loose in spots but I was prepared for the grind after the relatively easy terrain up to that point.
I did not realize that I was off track until I glanced at my GPS later but I was already over 13,000' by then and more than a third of the ascent on the slope.
I persevered up the loose slope hoping that the ridge would soon come into view.
Five more minutes of steady progress resulted in this view above me.
The ridge was in plain sight but I couldn't tell if it connected to Clinton and, if it did, what technical difficulties it might pose. Other notable Tenmile 13ers in the vicinity boast technically challenging ridge traverses so I wasn't sure what to expect wherever this unchartered route would join the ridge.
More slogging up the slope and I could now spot Traver Peak looming behind Clinton's broad south slopes.
When I finally scrambled on to the ridge, I was at 13,600' and three times farther down the ridge from Clinton's summit than the point where I was supposed to be but one look and I knew getting to Clinton's summit would be a breeze (phew!).
The ridge was exactly as I'd hoped so I broke into an easy run to celebrate my good fortune.
The proverbial hop, skip and a jump later, I was atop the Centennial peak that has the unique distinction of lying in both mountain ranges. I spent ten minutes atop Clinton enjoying the views all around, particularly of the more rugged Tenmile 13ers to the northeast.
Then I surveyed the ridge traverse to the remaining two peaks on the day's plan.
The ridge to McNamee looked straightforward and the traverse to Traver a bit more rugged. I set off momentarily, staying true to the ridge while skirting a couple of bumps to the hiker's right.
Fifteen minutes later, I was on my second summit enjoying the grand view to the southwest, majestic peaks of the Mosquito range towering over the colorful valley beneath.
To the southeast lay the last summit of interest for the day, Traver Peak, flanked by Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Democrat and the broad ridge over unranked Mt. Cameron.
The ridge to Traver looked a little more interesting than what I'd encountered so far and the skies were still non-threatening, so off I went eagerly in quest of my last summit. The rocky outcroppings on the ridge were safely bypassed to the left.
I spent some time on Traver's rocky summit almost reluctant to leave my last acme of the day, enjoying the views and the relative solitude of these lesser visited peaks. The day's hike had gone mostly according to plan despite my error in ascending Clinton's southeast slopes. My descent along Traver's gentle east ridge was a blast, the talus near the top transitioning into grassy slopes which joined the stream and eventually Wheeler Lake and the 4WD road.
Save for a few intermittent raindrops toward the end of my descent, I'd escaped the wrath of the weather gods which would be unleashed not long after I'd made it to the safety of my car.
I had answered the call of the mountains and sated my spirit of discovery...for today!
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
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