Peak(s):  Monumental Pk  -  13,369 feet
Van Wirt Mtn  -  13,024 feet
"Van Wit"  -  13,254 feet
"Hancock Pk"  -  13,111 feet
Mt. Chapman - 12755
Mt. Poor - 12442
Mt Arps - 12383
Date Posted:  08/20/2014
Date Climbed:   08/16/2014
Author:  Steve Knapp
 Monumental, Hancock and more  

18.2 miles, 7500' gain
From Alpine Tunnel Trailhead (11,040)

I had quite a few unclimbed peaks in the Hancock area and decided to loop together as many as I could. At the last minute I decided to start with Monumental rather than climbing it another day from the south, which added quite a bit to the day as it required a climb of unranked Van Wit and soft ranked Van Wirt. A shorter alternative would be to skip Monumental and start or finish with Hancock from Hancock Pass.

The dirt road to Hancock is well graded right now, nearly smooth. I slept nearby and started from the Alpine Tunnel trailhead about 7am. There are multiple alternatives of high roads and trails in this area. I took the continental divide trail (which starts as a road) south to Hancock Lake and Chalk Creek Pass. From there is was a nice climb up the NE ridge of Van Wit. I left my pack there and headed south to Monumental. On the way back I re-climbed Van Wit, then over to Van Wirt which is soft ranked. Then on to Hancock, which completed the two ranked 13ers for the day. Originally I had planned to start with Hancock by hiking the road to Hancock Pass. I was glad to have added Monumental, but it made for a long day.

Van Wit and Van Wirt from Hancock Lake:

Hancock Lakes:


Hancock from Van Wit:

Down to Hancock Pass where there were hordes of jeepers and ATVers gawking at the strange hiker (me) coming down the hill. I answered a few questions and then took off for Mt. Chapman. Next up I decided to throw in unranked Mt. Arps, a short 250 vertical foot climb on grassy slopes. The highlight of this peak was the huge three foot long summit register containing a book with many names and stories in it. Not sure why someone decided Arps deserved this, didn't have time to read the stories. There were many more peaks to climb.

Mount Arps peak register on steroids:

From Arps I descended to Williams Pass, with many willows to contend with near the pass. A group of jeeps went through just before me, I think this pass is only open in August. Mt. Poor is an easy climb from the pass. On the descent from Poor I took cover in the rocks from a rain/snow shower, the only major precip of the day.

Mt. Poor, 12954 beyond:

Only the three unnamed 12ers remained. I hiked down to the saddle which is over the Alpine tunnel, checking out the turntable and rebuilt station from a distance. I then followed the trail north for awhile, then left the trail on a direct line to 12954. I skipped unranked Mt. Helmers, but did stop for a dip in the unnamed high lake that feeds into Tunnel Lake. Refreshingly cold, it perked me up for the remaining peaks.




Time for a swim!:

I took a steep grassy slope up 12954, then followed the nice grassy ridge over to 12643. I was a bit tired heading up 12748, and of course there was a false summit in the way with a drop on the other side. For the return to the car I decided not to follow a direct line, wanting to avoid any Chaffee county version of RMNP's Forest Canyon. Instead I contoured southwest, crossed the trout filled creek at 11,300 and climbed up to the Alpine Tunnel trail. This trail follows the old railroad grade as it descends to Hancock about 2.5 miles down. Along the way I marveled at what it must have took to build the railroad and tunnel in 1880 with crude tools. The railroad line was short lived, abandoned in 1910. Lots of history in this area!

Parting shot. Aetna, Monumental, Hancock, Arps. Alpine Tunnel trail visible lower right:

I really enjoyed the day, a nice walk over ten peaks still green from the summer rains with fall just around the corner. Most of the hike (except the last two 12ers) followed the continental divide, which was a great place to be on this day.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions

Thanks for posting...
08/21/2014 15:11
Steve, good to see you sharing this on here. Your reports are always great!

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