Peak(s):  UN 12,480 - 3100
UN 12,734
Date Posted:  11/17/2016
Date Climbed:   11/15/2016
Author:  boudreaux
 In the Shadow of the Behemoths   

If you ever get finished with the 14ers and 13ers, here's a good place to start. On the far west end of Turquoise Lake is Shangri-La! A place called Timberline Lake, tucked under an arc of little 12ers in a corner of the Continental Divide. You drive from Leadville to Turquoise Lake and follow the road to the far west end of the lake and turn left at the sign for the Timberline Lake TH. Another hiker was about to get started and was doing something similar, so I joined him on his quest.

It's a gentle 2 mile hike to the lake through a dense forest on a wide old road. I believe that is Lyle BM above the lake, but it is possibly one of the prettiest lakes I have ever been to. A trail goes to the left once at the lake and up into the basin, but we went right, crossed the lake outlet and headed up the south slopes to 12,480

12,480 from the lake. We climbed steadily up the slopes and came out of treeline just below the southridge. A huge boulder field presented itself atop the ridge and we skirted to the right and climbed higher.

Eventually we got to this summit of boulders and the true summit is the caprock topped boulder in the center. It's rated a c5.2, but it didn't take me too long to summit, smearing my way up on the few good holds I could find. A tiny patch of snow below the cap had me concerned, but it was easily avoided and I made the move onto the caprock. My new friend had a short rope and I belayed him up and then we repelled down. A cairn to the south once had a register, but all that is left is a couple shards of glass buried in the cairn. Mt Massive dominates the south, it really takes the whole southern view. Galena Mountain is to the east. I could plainly see the Bells, Snowmass and Capital, with Sopris rounding out the western view. Not a cloud in the sky!

UN 12,734 was our next destination, about a mile or so to the North. We dropped down to the SW side of 12,480 and avoided most of the krumholtz and hopped through another boulder field, staying well below the ridge. As the ridge turned east, we headed up nice grassy slopes toward the summit, a final slope of talus defines the summit area. Once on top it was a wide flat expanse. A wide, low, flat cairn marked the highpoint.

Looking back on 12,480, quite the rockpile. Dropped down to a saddle at the head of the basin between 12,734 and the next point, 12,454 and headed straight down.

Some of the beautiful slabs we walked along before getting to the lake. Maybe 30 minutes from saddle to lake and the forest was never too dense to complicate route finding problems.

Slightly less than 10 miles, 3,100' of climbing over 6 hours. Very nice fall day in November. You gotta take advantage of these days, they don't come often. The behemoths never knew we were lurking in the shadows below!

Comments or Questions

Very nice!
11/17/2016 11:20
Nice one, Beau. What made you decide to explore this area?


I Just Saw Them...
11/17/2016 21:16
One day after a climb of Mt Hope back in Sept. I was looking around Hagerman Pass Rd/Turquoise Lake the next day and there they were! I was just drawn to them, you know how it is!

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