Peak(s):  Grizzly Mtn  -  13,708 feet
Date Posted:  07/27/2017
Modified:  07/29/2017
Date Climbed:   07/17/2017
Author:  wineguy
 Grizzly Mountain - A Direct Route to the South Ridge  

My stats confirm that I'm not a prolific writer of trip reports. With 152 summits of 14ers and 13ers, I have exactly one Colorado trip report. So why now? While planning a trip to Grizzly Mountain I was unable to find either a route description or a report that helped me. There are several reports of long multi-peak ridge-runs bagging bicentennials in the southern Sawatch, but these were not in the monsoon season hampered by afternoon thunderstorms. I had momentary hope when I saw a report by BCDave with only Grizzly, but he actually climbed Grizzly Peak and misfiled it under Grizzly Mountain. No help there. Last August while on Taylor Mountain I spotted what looked like a good approach to Grizzly, a not-to-steep grassy slope up to Grizzly's southern ridge. Greg and I successfully reached the summit on this route, so I decided to write a report for others who are seeking a reasonably direct route to Grizzly Mountain.
The approach is near the North Fork Reservoir, which can be accessed via CR 240.
North Fork Reservoir Campground

Take Hwy 50 west of Poncha Springs about 6 miles, turn right (north) on CR 240 near Maysville, and pass the Angel of Shavano Campground at about 4 miles where a sign recommends 4WD before going further. The reservoir is another 6 miles up the road, on which I averaged 6 mph in a light-duty SUV (RDX). If you want to get an early start, and don't want to drive over a rocky road in the dark, your primary option is camping at the North Fork Reservoir Campground, or at one of the nearby primitive campsites. The road forks just before it reaches the reservoir, the left fork goes to the campground and the right fork proceeds along an old mining road toward Billings Lake. If you've gotten this far, you can easily continue up the right fork. About 1.2 miles further up the right fork you will be near 11,800 ft. elevation. Scan the ridge on your right and pick a line for an ascent.
Sunrise over Billings Lake

A good place to start is at a blockaded road to the right that heads toward the ruins of an old cabin. Along this road Greg spotted a trail through the talus that angled towards the northwest. We excitedly proceeded on this trail thinking we'd found a very easy route to the ridgeline. Unfortunately, the trail ended at the site of some mining activity so we ended up on loose talus for the final third of the way up to the ridgeline. Moreover, the trail took us further northwest on the ridge than we wanted, so we had to follow the ridge back to the southeast to find Grizzly's south ridge. On the return, we descended from the ridge a little further southeast, on a mix of grass, scree, and talus. Both of these routes are reasonable choices. Once you are on the ridge the remaining route is obvious. Follow the ridge southeast to pick up Grizzly's south ridge. After reaching the south ridge of Grizzly, the crux of the route is the 250 ft. drop to a saddle, mostly Class 2, maybe one or two 2+ moves. From the saddle at 12,500 ft., the ridge rises about 1200 ft. in three-quarters of a mile to a scenic summit.
Basin with Grizzly Creek and Grizzly Lake
Grizzly's South Ridge

Greg on the Ridge
Summit View: Calico Mtn. (foreground), Taylor Mtn. (rear left), and Mt. Aetna (rear right)

Returning from saddle, almost to the top

The biggest surprise of the trip occurred when Greg and I decided to sign the summit register. The last entry was from October 2016, over nine months earlier. Seems like a shame that such a beautiful area gets so little traffic. Hope that others can enjoy this scenic route to what appears to be a seldom-visited bicentennial. My apologies for the lack of pictures on the early part of the route. I did not plan a trip report until I saw how few people visited the area. We didn't stop for pictures on our return because we were racing the weather, hoping to get our tents down before they got wet. Unfortunately, the weather won, so had to dry our tents outside the St. Moritz in Aspen later in the day, and clearly offended a few observers with our crass behavior.

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

07/27/2017 09:13
Surprised to see a TR from wineguy this a.m.!

Looks like a decent route for Grizzly Mtn. It is tough to get ridge runs this time of year - well, for a mere mortal such as myself, anyway.
Strong work - congrats on the summit!

I bet you're not the first to be drying gear at the St Moritz in Aspen...



07/27/2017 16:41
Way to go Wineguy!

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