Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
"Mascot Pk"  -  13,435 feet
Emma Burr Mtn  -  13,538 feet
Jenkins Mtn  -  13,432 feet
Taylor Pk A  -  13,435 feet
Star Pk A  -  13,521 feet
Treasure Mtn A  -  13,528 feet
Fitzpatrick Pk  -  13,112 feet
White Rock Mtn  -  13,540 feet
Chipeta Mtn  -  13,472 feet
Date Posted:  07/30/2016
Modified:  11/04/2017
Date Climbed:   07/28/2016
Author:  Mtnman200
 Taylor Park & Gothic Tricentennial Blitz  

As of 2015, I'd done 432 ascents of thirteeners and fourteeners (including all repeats and non-separates). Of those 432 ascents, 412 included family members only (i.e., my dad, brother, and sons). Three of these climbs included non-family members as well as family members, and the remaining 17 I did solo for various reasons.

As I get into the lower thirteeners, I'm finding that I often have to go the solo route. After a couple of successful three-day solo trips this summer, I had an opportunity for seven consecutive climbing days. The biggest question was whether I would be able to stand my climbing partner (me) for a week. I thought of Elvis Costello singing "I talk to myself but I don't listen" in "Talking in the Dark" and wondered if that would be me by the end of this trip.

In any event, my goal was seven tricentennial peaks in the Taylor Park area (between Cottonwood Pass and Crested Butte) and near Gothic (north of Crested Butte), plus two more tricentennials on the way to/from Taylor Park and Gothic. It's good to be efficient, right?

Thursday, July 21
I left home about 9:30 PM and drove to Collegiate Peaks Campground west of Buena Vista. It was midnight by the time I crawled into my tent.

Friday, July 22
I drove a mile to the Denny Creek Trailhead and headed up the trail toward Mt. Yale, along with a couple of off-leash dogs who continually were running well ahead of their owners.

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Mascot Peak is hiding behind Mt. Yale's SW slopes


At about 12,600', I left the trail and headed ESE, contouring at about 12,800' until I climbed to the saddle between Mt. Yale (14,196') and "Mascot Peak" (13,435'). There was some loose rock as I neared the saddle, but this route was more interesting than climbing Mt. Yale first and then simply following the ridge to Mascot Peak.

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Mascot Peak from near the Mt. Yale - Mascot Peak saddle


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The final climb to Mascot Peak's summit was fun. The high point is the bump to the left of the false summit


There was no summit register on Mascot Peak. I headed back to the saddle and then up the ridge to Mt. Yale's summit. The south ridge approach was my third different route on Mt. Yale. A big shoutout to the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative for building a trail so that no one has to endure the misery of the Denny Gulch bushwhack anymore!

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Mt. Yale from Mascot Peak. I followed Mt. Yale's south ridge directly to its summit


I was feeling the effects of four hours of sleep last night but pushed on to Mt. Yale's summit which, as expected, was crawling with people. From here, it was nice to have a trail to follow all the way to my car. After driving over Cottonwood Pass to Taylor Park Reservoir, I continued past Tincup toward Tincup Pass and set up camp at a site below the pass. (Warning: driving the Tincup Pass road is not for the fair of heart! Sections of it reminded me of the infamous Lake Como "road.")

Saturday, July 23
I hiked the remaining distance to Tincup Pass and then headed east on an old trail that climbed about halfway to the south ridge of "Tincup Peak" (13,345') before fizzling out. Once on the ridge, it was an easy walk to Tincup Peak's summit. I didn't find a summit register and continued north on the ridge to my next objective, Emma Burr Mountain (13,538'), and signed the makeshift summit register.

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Looking back at Tincup Peak from the ridgewalk to Emma Burr Mountain


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The ridge to Tincup Peak as seen from Emma Burr Mountain; Tincup Peak is in the upper left and Fitzpatrick Peak is in the upper right


Unfortunately, no one seems to know who Emma Burr Mountain is named after. You'd think there would be some sort of record, but there isn't. I retraced the route to Tincup Pass and took a break for lunch.

Next up: Fitzpatrick Peak (13,112'), SW of Tincup Pass. I headed west up the ridge from Tincup Pass, bypassing a 12,780' ridge point on its south. Ahead, I could see what looked like a summit, but looks are deceiving.

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Fitzpatrick Peak is out-of-sight behind (south of) the high point visible here


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The summit of Fitzpatrick Peak is another 3/4 mile further down the ridge from the high point seen here


After an easy walk down the ridge to the summit of Fitzpatrick Peak, I signed the CMC register. Gerry and Jennifer Roach had signed last month. I returned to my campsite, broke camp, and drove through Tincup and past Taylor Park Reservoir toward Pieplant Mill. Had I known at the time that my neighbors were going to run their generator all night, I would have picked another campsite.

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The remains of Pieplant Mill, which surprisingly was built out of stone


Sunday, July 24
I hiked up the old road to above Pieplant Mill and followed it past Pieplant Mine to around 12,350' (higher than shown on the topo map). It was cloudy by 6:00 AM, which did not exactly inspire confidence in today's weather.

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This is where I left the road and climbed NE to the summit of Jenkins Mtn.


A fun scramble up the slope brought me to the summit of Jenkins Mtn. (13,432'), where I signed the CMC register. Only five people signed in 2015 and I was the 6th in 2016, so this is not a much-visited summit.

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Looking north from the summit of Jenkins Mtn.


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The view toward my next objective (Unnamed 13,140')


As I headed SE along the ridge toward UN 13140, some flowers caught my eye. Nature never ceases to amaze me.

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Apparently, no one told these flowers they shouldn't be growing out of a crack in the rock


Between UN 13140 and its false summit, I had to drop below the ridge on its west side to bypass some ridge difficulties. Otherwise, I stayed on the ridge all the way to the summit, where I was the second person in 2016 to sign the makeshift register left in 2015 by Alyson Kirk. Do John and Alyson ever take a day off??

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Grizzly Peak (13,281') from UN 13140. There are six Grizzlys over 13,000' in Colorado but (as far as I know) no grizzly bears


I'd planned to continue to Grizzly Peak (13,281') and could see several climbers on its summit, but the lack of sleep due to my neighbors running their generator all night was catching up to me. Why people want to get away from it all and then take it all with them is beyond me.

Regardless, I decided to save Grizzly Peak for another day and descended steeply into the basin SW of UN 13140. I headed WSW to a trail that I followed back to Pieplant Mill. After breaking camp, I drove NW on Road 742 to the road's end at 10,760' and found a nice place to pitch my tent.

Monday, July 25
A nice sunrise greeted me as I headed SW on the trail along the Taylor River.

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Sunrise along the Taylor River


At about 11,360', I left the main trail and followed an old trail more or less directly north to some old mines around 12,000'. From here I climbed north to Taylor Peak's south ridge.

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Taylor Peak from near the mines around 12,000'. I climbed the grassy slope just right of center


The last bit of ridge to the summit of Taylor Peak (13,435') reminded me a bit of Coxcomb Peak, as the ridge was fairly narrow and dropped steeply on both sides. I signed the CMC summit register left in 2004 and headed back along the ridge.

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The ridge between Taylor Peak and Star Peak (the high point in the distance)


Eventually, the ridge became problematic, and I had to drop below various notches on either side of the ridge. I finally decided that the ridge was slowing me down too much and descended to about 12,200' on the south side of the ridge. I then contoured west into the basin just east of Star Peak.

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I climbed just right of the largest snowfield and then climbed to the saddle N (right) of Star Peak


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A closer look at Star Peak. Once on the ridge, the loose rock isn't so annoying


There was no shortage of unstable rock as I climbed to Star Peak's north ridge. Because the clouds looked threatening, I wasted no time in scrambling up the ridge to the summit of Star Peak (13,521') and back down. No register on the summit. The rain was nice enough to wait until I was in the basin east of Star Peak before it started. The rain continued most of the way back to the trailhead but didn't bother me because I'd gotten both summits today.

After breaking camp. I drove past Taylor Park Reservoir to Almont and then north through Crested Butte and Gothic to Schofield Pass, finding a decent campsite just below the Yule Pass trailhead.

Tuesday, July 26
Today's goals were Treasure Mtn. and Treasury Mtn. I decided to tackle Treasure Mtn. first because it is farther from the trailhead. I took the Yule Pass Trail (much-eroded in places) west to Yule Pass, where I followed an old road to its end at the ruins of a mine building around 12,320'. I descended to about 12,200' and contoured below the cliffs SW of Treasury Mtn.

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Looking toward Treasure Mtn. as I contoured below Treasury Mtn., although the summit is 3/4 mile behind the high point you can see


Once past the cliffs, I climbed to the saddle between Treasure Mtn. and a 13,407' ridge point NW of Treasury Mtn. From here, it was an easy climb to where I could see the false summit of Treasure Mtn.

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Looking down the ridge Treasure Mtn. from NW of the high point in the previous photo. The north-facing slopes still hold plenty of snow


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Looking back at Treasury Mtn. (taken from the same location as the previous photo)


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The cliffs SW of Treasury Mtn. that I contured below.


From the false summit, a long but easy ridgewalk brought me to the true summit of Treasure Mtn. (13,528'). I then retraced my path to near the old mine building remains SSW of the summit of Treasury Mtn. From here, I climbed directly toward the summit. Neither Treasure nor Treasury had a summit register.

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Looking up toward the summit of Treasury Mtn. It's hard to tell exactly where the summit is, but there are many decent options


Rather than return to Yule Pass, I decided to follow Treasury's broad gentle SE ridge until it was a short descent to get back on the Yule Pass Trail. This turned out to be a much faster descent route that returning to Yule Pass and would be a good ascent route if Treasury Mtn. is your only goal.

After returning to the trailhead, I drove back over Schofield Pass to the Copper Creek trailhead. Various signs in the area stated that the only camping permitted from June 15 - August 15 was at Gothic Campground, but it has only four campsites and all four were occupied. I had to switch to Plan B: discreetly sleeping in the back of my car at the trailhead.

Wednesday, July 27
I headed NW up the Copper Creek Trail and soon was in the Maroon Bells Wilderness. There is a creek crossing at about 10,080' but no bridge. I should have just taken off my boots and socks and waded across, but no, I had to find a narrow section where I thought I could jump across. Unfortunately, the bank on the far side was slick, and I slid down into the creek and got my boots wet.

After the creek crossing catastrophe, I continued up the trail to a drainage WNW of White Rock Mtn. at about 10,500' and began bushwhacking ESE until I was above treeline.

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The tree trunk to the left is broken off at about 12' high, so a lot of soil got moved when the tree in the middle of the photo came down


Once above the trees, I headed ENE to about 12,200' and then climbed to a 12,600' saddle WSW of White Rock Mtn.

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The sun's about to peek over White Rock Mountain's north ridge


From the saddle WSW of White Rock Mtn., the route involves going straight up the ridge.

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Looking at White Rock Mtn. from the saddle WSW of it


Once on the summit of White Rock Mtn. (13,540'), I took off my boots and socks and actually managed to get them fairly dry while I relaxed and enjoyed the view. The CMC summit register on White Rock Mtn. has been in service since 2005 and has been averaging about 10 signatures per year, so this is not exactly the most popular climb.

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White Benchmark (13,401') from the summit of White Rock Mtn.


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The white rock that White Rock Mtn. must be named for is just below and north of its summit


The weather was great today and normally I would have continued to White Benchmark. Had someone been there with me, they probably would have convinced me easily, but by myself I just wasn't feeling it today because I was still somewhat less than ecstatic about this morning's creek crossing.

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An old mine car in Queen Basin is quite a ways below the nearest mine


I returned to the 12,600' saddle and then descended SW into Queen Basin, where I saw a lone mine car sitting forlornly among the vegetation. By staying to the far south side of Queen Basin, the bushwhacking wasn't too bad, and I was able to find and follow an old trail most of the way back to Copper Creek. From there, it was a hot and sunny hike back to the trailhead. Next, I drove via Crested Butte and Gunnison to Marshall Pass and set up camp at a convenient campsite.

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A sign south of Crested Butte; I'm not sure how this fish hatchery got its name but thought my wife (Judy) might get a kick out of it


Thursday, July 28
I followed a road north from Marshall Pass that ran adjacent to the Larkspur irrigation ditch. Where the road was gated and labeled with a "No Trespassing" sign, I headed cross-country ENE until I found a trail that headed north. At a trail intersection, I turned NE onto an old trail that got increasingly faint but was still followable. Eventually, I climbed above the treeline to the Continental Divide and headed north along the ridge toward today's objective, Unnamed 13472. (Note: On May 10, 2017, the U.S. Board on Geographic Names renamed Unnamed 13472 as Chipeta Mountain. Chipeta Mtn. previously had been a non-separate 12,850' peak.)

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Chipeta Mountain (formerly Unnamed 13472) is beginning to become visible in the distance


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Chipeta Mountain is getting closer, but the true summit is hidden behind the high point you see here


I finally reached the summit of Chipeta Mountain, signed the makeshift summit register, and headed back the way I'd come.

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Looking back at the ridge from Marshall Pass


Once I reached my car, I realized that I'd survived seven days of solo climbing, summited all nine tricentennials that had been my main goal, and bagged a total of 13 peaks. Upon reflection, solo climbing means being fully dependent on yourself and not having anyone along to provide encouragement. Also, there's no opportunity for shared experiences/memories. Still, I'm convinced I can survive a longer solo trip in the future.



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