Peak(s):  PT 13,216  -  13,216 feet
PT 13,537  -  13,537 feet
Hilliard Pk  -  13,409 feet
Keefe Pk  -  13,516 feet
Date Posted:  09/20/2017
Modified:  10/18/2018
Date Climbed:   09/14/2017
Author:  Mtnman200
 Ridge Running in the Elk Mountains  

My goals for today were "Triangle Peak" (13380'), Unnamed (UN) 13216, and UN 13537. Tomorrow's goals were three peaks farther north along the ridge: Hilliard Peak (13,409'), Keefe Peak (13,516'), and Hunter Peak (13,497').

I left my campsite above Conundrum Hot Springs about an hour before sunrise because I wanted to stay ahead of the predicted afternoon showers/thunderstorms (60 percent chance after 2 PM). After following the pleasant trail to Conundrum Pass, I continued on the trail as it descended a couple hundred feet and headed north toward Triangle Pass. I then climbed scree to the ridge which was then easy to follow to the summit of UN 13216.

UN 13550 from the trail to Conundrum Pass

Looking SE in the early morning light toward Conundrum Hot Springs from the trail to Conundrum Pass

The summit of UN 13216, with UN 13537 in the background. Someone spent some time carefully constructing the summit cairn.

Looking south from the summit of UN 13216 toward Conundrum Pass and Triangle Peak (13,380')

Next up: UN 13537. The ridge from UN 13216 to UN 13537 was straightforward until I reached the summit block.

UN 13537 from near its saddle with UN 13216

The summit block of UN 13537; the best approach is to traverse on the peak's east (right) side and then climb back to the ridge

My climb up the east face of UN 13537 was sketchy in places, as many of the handholds and footholds were not to be trusted. In hindsight, it would have been easier to contour to the NE ridge of UN 13537 and then follow the ridge SW to the summit. Regardless, I found myself on the summit by 9:30 AM. Initially, I'd planned to return via UN 13216 to Triangle Pass and then climb "Triangle Peak," but it was so early and the ridge north of UN 13537 looked so inviting that I couldn't resist continuing toward Hilliard Peak.

Hilliard Peak (13,409') from the ridge north of UN 13537

To get around a ridge tower between Hilliard and Keefe Peaks, it was necessary to lose some elevation and traverse on the NW (left) side of the ridge

From Hilliard Peak, Keefe Peak didn't look too far away. At about 13,200', I found an obvious path around a ridge tower on its west (left) side. Once back on the ridge, it was smooth sailing to the summit of Keefe Peak.

The summit of Keefe Peak (13,516'), with Hunter Peak (13,497') visible in the distance

By now, skies were quite threatening, so I hustled southeast and east along a drainage to reach the Conundrum Hot Springs Trail.

I got to hike in the rain the final hour to Conundrum Hot Springs, and the booming thunder made me glad I was no longer on the ridge. Back at my campsite, I quickly retreated into my tent. After 5+ hours, the rain let up just long enough for me to cook dinner as darkness fell. In spite of the rain, the day had gone about as well as it could have, except that I'd orphaned "Triangle Peak" because I didn't return that way as initially planned. That's okay, because beginning with "Triangle Peak" this morning might have meant not getting down from the ridge quickly enough to avoid the ugly weather. "Triangle Peak" will be an easy orphan to climb later because a trail goes so close to its summit.

Blue = ascent route from Triangle Pass; green = how I should have ascended; red = descent route to the Conundrum Trail

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

Triangle Peak
09/21/2017 14:17
Interesting info on Hilliard to Keefe, etc. I started at West Brush Creek on the other side of Coffee Pot Pass, hit Triangle and then on to 13216, 13537, Hilliard and then back to 13162 east of Coffee Pot Pass. I bypassed the ridge between Triangle and 13216, went around to the north side of 13537 and then also did a workaround from 13537 to Hilliard. Typical Elk loose rock and even though the peaks themselves are 2 and 2+ the ridges were not so much that way. I ran out of time to continue to Keefe before turning back to 13162. Also for what it is worth, it would have been better to gain 13162 from the saddle to 13550. Thanks, will have to get Keefe and Hunter from Conundrum...


09/22/2017 15:11
Piper: Thanks for the info. Yes, I should have climbed more directly to UN 13216. Maybe I was on autopilot following the trail, though it worked out okay.

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