Peak(s):  De Anza Pk A  -  13,362 feet
Gibbs Pk A  -  13,553 feet
Marcy, Mt  -  13,490 feet
"Silver Pk"  -  13,513 feet
Date Posted:  11/11/2016
Modified:  10/21/2018
Date Climbed:   11/08/2016
Author:  Mtnman200
 Cotton Creek 13ers (Sangre de Cristos)  

Approaching the summit of "Silver Peak" (13,513'); the summit is just behind the high point in the photo

Monday, Nov. 7, 2016
The beautiful fall weather was too nice to pass up, and I knew just where I wanted to go: the Sangre de Cristos, where I had some unfinished business near Cotton Creek, a few miles southeast of the small town of Villa Grove. In July, I'd backpacked to a campsite along Cotton Creek with plans to climb five nearby thirteeners, but two days of almost constant rain dampened my enthusiasm and I left empty-handed without attempting a single peak.

Time to redeem myself! I left my house mid-morning and made the three-hour drive to the Cotton Creek trailhead, where the desert and forest meet. As I got my backpack ready, I noticed a few nearby folks wearing blaze orange. Hunters! I hadn't thought about hunting season and hoped they wouldn't go all Dick Cheney on me as I headed up the trail.

The five creek crossings were much easier than they had been in July when the water was higher. Part of the creek was still running down a section of trail, however. At 10,320', I reached an intersection where the main trail continues east and southeast along Cotton Creek to Cotton Lake and another trail heads northeast to the saddle between Electric Peak (13,598') and De Anza Peak A (13,362'). I set up camp just below the trail intersection.

Tomorrow's plan: follow the trail to the Electric - De Anza saddle and then make a clockwise loop over De Anza Peak A, Gibbs Peak (13,553'), Mt. Marcy (13,490'), "Silver Peak "13,513'), and Unnamed (UN) 13490, followed by descending to Cotton Lake and following the trail to my campsite. I liked the idea of having trail at the beginning and end of the day, and my main concern was the reduced daylight this time of year.

Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016
I knew it was a cold morning when my water was beginning to turn to slush as I cooked breakfast. Once I started hiking, I warmed up quickly. Somewhere around 11,200', I lost the trail in an open area. After wasting ten minutes trying to find where the trail continued, I decided to head cross-country toward the Electric Peak - De Anza saddle. After climbing a couple hundred feet, I regained the trail which soon brought me to the Electric Peak - De Anza saddle.

Electric Peak (13,598') from the Electric Peak - De Anza Peak saddle. Electric Peak is one of the bicentennial peaks

The San Luis Valley from the Electric Peak - De Anza Peak saddle. Several irrigation circles are visible

I'd expected to get blasted by the wind on the ridge, but the winds were surprisingly mild. From the Electric Peak - De Anza saddle, it was an an easy walk to the summit of De Anza Peak A.

Looking east toward Gibbs Peak

De Anza Peak A (13,362')

Looking northeast toward Gibbs Peak (13,553') from near a 13,227' ridge point

More ridgewalking brought me to the summit of Gibbs Peak.

The summit of Gibbs Peak

Mt. Marcy from the summit of Gibbs Peak

Along the way to the next peak (Mt. Marcy), I saw a couple of wolves a few hundred feet below me standing still for a couple of minutes before they took off running across the tundra. Before I knew it, I was at the Gibbs Peak - Mt. Marcy saddle. From here to Mt. Marcy's summit is where I encountered the most snow of the day, but it was no more than an inch or two deep and didn't cause me any issues.

Mt. Marcy from the Gibbs Peak - Mt. Marcy saddle

The final approach to the summit of Mt. Marcy. The true summit is just behind the false summit to the right

Almost to the summit of Mt. Marcy

Next stop: "Silver Peak." Some of it was as snowy as Mt. Marcy, but again was not a problem.

"Silver Peak" from the Mt. Marcy - Silver Peak saddle. The true summit is behind what looks like a lower bump just right of center

Approaching the summit of "Silver Peak" (13,513'); the summit is just behind the high point in the photo

Looking southwest at UN 13490 from the summit of "Silver Peak." Cotton Lake is in the valley to the right

Looking into the afternoon sun at the northeast ridge of UN 13490

The descent southwest from "Silver Peak" to its saddle with UN 13490 went quickly on grass and rock. Due to concerns about the time, I decided to skip UN 13,490 and stepped up my pace because I didn't want to get back to my campsite after sunset.

Once down to the "Silver Peak" - UN 13490 saddle, I was glad to have a trail to follow down to Cotton Lake. The trail had collected an inch or two of snow in places but was still much nicer than going cross-country.

Looking northwest across Cotton Lake from the inlet at its southeast end

At Cotton Lake, I had to walk across a beaver dam at the lake's inlet to continue on the trail on the north side of the lake. From here, I still had 3 1/2 miles to go but was able to move fairly quickly (for me) back to my campsite. I arrived with about an hour of daylight left and was able to cook dinner and clean up before dark. The next morning, I slept in before packing up and backpacking to my car.

This trip included my first November climbs of Colorado peaks and went about as well as I could have expected. I just may have to find some more peaks to climb this month.

Blue = ascent route from campsite at 10,320'; red = descent route back to camp from Silver Peak

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

Lotsa peaks...
11/14/2016 13:58
You sure are knocking out the peaks. Nice report!

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