Peak(s):  Ouray, Mt  -  13,971 feet
Date Posted:  09/15/2014
Date Climbed:   08/30/2014
Author:  Stee Vee Dee
 HouRay for Ouray  

As a warmup for climbing Wetterhorn on Labor Day, I decided to try Mount Ouray since it was closer to Kansas, lower, and only class 2. I drove up to the Marshall Pass trailhead Saturday morning. There are several good views of Mount Ouray from the Marshall Pass Road
Ouray from the Gunnison side of Marshall Pass
. I parked at the Marshall Pass parking lot
Mount Ouray from trailhead
Marshall Pass Trailhead Sign
and then walked down the road about 200 yards to a good road heading north. This road was not the Colorado trail but went to a historic cabin. From this cabin, I headed northeast on trail segments.

There is no continuous trail up Ouray, but the route is usually obvious or so I was led to believe. I go north through open woods looking to avoid downed timber and reach timberline at about 11800
Looking back down the open woods
. From there I continue uphill and join the southwest ridge on the Continental Divide. From here, the route follows the divide up to about 12600
looking down the ridge that becomes the Divide
and then goes east across a narrow saddle and up the increasingly steep southwest ridge. The southwest ridge ascends 1300 feet in .8 miles.

The ridge is fairly bumpy, the biggest obstacle being a band of white boulders near 13400
White band of boulders
. Hiking solo, I was perplexed how to navigate through here. Straight ahead was also straight up. Bypassing on the left led to loose appearing sidehills and the right looked quite a bit longer with elevation loss. While suffering from perplexation, I met a group who had passed me going up. They indicated the best way was to go over most of the white rock and just gut it out. So, I went left at first, then crossed to the right and went up. From here, the slope was not as steep and the route was clearer to me. Still, with my perplexed stop, it took about 5 1/2 hours going up.

The views from the top were worth the climb.
Salida from near the summit
It appears you can see all the ranges in Colorado that have 14ers. The San Juans were represented by Uncompahgre to the west. The Elks were represented by the West Elk Mountains to the immediate west. The Mosquito range was represented by the Buffalo Peaks east of Buena Vista. All sorts of Sawatch summits were visible with Shav and Tab being the closest.
Mount Antora the south end of the range
Pikes Peak was visible to the northeast as part of the Front Range. The best views though were of the long spine of the Sangre de Cristo stretching all the way from Methodist Mountain to the Blanca Massif
Crestones from the summit
. The prominence of Ouray made the hike worthwhile, even if my pictures suffer from the haze and photo-shooting incompetence. The summit was very windy and fairly cool, perhaps 50 degrees in late August. It was a dry day, however, unlike my last sojourn into this area.

On the descent, I decided to drop down the big white rocks and found a cool class four chute to drop down
Nifty Notch on the descent
. It would be cooler if I could get the picture to stand upright. It reminded me of the notch on Sneffels only longer and steeper. After a long up and down traverse of the ridge, I reached timberline and attempted to retrace my steps through the woods. Of course, this was easier said than done and it ended up taking me longer to go down through the woods than going up. I should have just blasted through since as long as I went down hill, I would either reach the Marshall Pass road or the Colorado Trail. Getting lost was not possible here. Round trip time was a little over ten hours which was okay for a 60 year-old hiking solo without a clear trail.

As an added plus, I could keep watch on my car parked at the trailhead by using the zoom function on my camera. I have a fuzzy picture of it from 13000 feet showing bikers nearby as well
Red Ford Fusion in parking lot from 13000.

Later, I had transmission failure which prevented my climbing Wetterhorn this trip. So I spent almost a week in Salida with this distant view of Ouray as a reminder.
Ouray from Salida
Perhaps in 2015. Thanks for reading.

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

Nice write-up
09/15/2014 22:05
Ouray IS a nice mountain, isn't it? One of my very favs. Thanks for posting this.

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