Peak(s):  Big Agnes - 12060
Mt. Zirkel - 12180
Date Posted:  09/25/2017
Date Climbed:   09/02/2017
Author:  Kitten
Additional Members:   Mountain Mike
 2 Peaks and one "Zircle"  


Day 1: Big Agnes



There is only one trip report on Big Agnes and five more on Mt. Zirkel, so I decided to write this one up, which combines a backpacking loop and the two highest peaks in the wilderness area.

I get bored when I read (and write!) long trip reports with lots of explanations, so here we go. I will just give info on the routes as I show the pictures that I hope are useful for future ascends.
Highly recommend this forgotten area of Colorado, we saw nobody on our ascent to Big Agnes and 2 people on Mt. Zirkel over Labor Day weekend.

Summary of the weekend:

Day 1:
Trailhead: Slavonia Mine (8,400 feet)
Set up of first camp: 3.6 miles clockwise (9,800 feet), Gilpin Creek Trail

Day 2:
Big Agnes (12,060 feet)
Distance round trip from camp: 5.2 miles
Set up of second camp: 2.8 miles clockwise (10,100 feet)

Day 3:
Mt. Zirkel (12,180 feet)
Distance round trip from camp: 9.1 miles

Day 4:
Finish the loop at TH
Distance from camp: 4.6 miles clockwise, Gold Creek Trail



We thought this was a remote area, lots of wildlife, we saw two bears on our way to camp the first day. One of them was next to the trail not paying attention to us, just eating his berriesā¦

Image




Big Agnes (12,060)



First goal: Big Agnes, yes I love this pad!

Image


Our camp in the willows:

Image


This route required bushwhacking and route finding skills. It took longer than we thought, given the distance and elevation, the total ascending time was 3 hours and a half.
The first part goes through willows, we just kept going north next to the creek.

We ascended these rocky slabs on the way up Big Agnes:

Image


The goal is to bypass this rocky point on the left:

Image


Rock glacier to be ascended:

Image


Looking back:

Image


En route to find the tarn:

Image


Another rocky glacier to ascend:

Image


Finally the tarn!

Image


From here the next goal was to ascend to the saddle, we chose the route on the right, it looked more solid but required some class 3. On the descent we used the obvious path in the middle:

Image


Looking back to the tarn:

Image


Some scramble:

Image


Looking back again:

Image


Once in the saddle we could see the remaining of the route, but that peak is not Big Agnes yet! We went in between the two gendarmes seen in the picture:

Image


A closer look:

Image


Looking back:

Image


Mmmh, so which one is the summit?

Image


We ended up summiting both points, not sure if the most prominent one is the real one, my gps was reading almost the same exact elevation.
The second summit required to go on the east side of the ridge and descending a bit:

Image


On the summit looking back at the false summits:

Image


On the way down we took a slightly different route, still on the west side of the peak:

Image


Found a really good chunk of milky quartz rock!

Image


And mica, by the way Mica Lake is just on the west side of Big Agnes.

Image





Mt. Zirkel (12,180)



After setting camp the night before just below the junction with red dirt pass trail, we started our trek in the morning.

Image


Meadow that opens up and you can see red dirt pass in the distance

Image


Big horns

Image


Looking back, we couldn't have asked for better weather

Image


On top of red dirt pass at 11,500 feet

Image


Mt. Zirkel in the distance, wait, which one is it??

Image


Big Agnes view, no wonder there are so many tops.

Image


A closer look to Mt. Zirkel, again we ended up ascending the two main rocky points (just in case), we found the register on the farthest right.

Image


From here it looks like the most prominent top is the left, but the register was on the right one

Image



All in all an excellent trip that combines backpacking, hiking to the top of the highest peaks in the Mt Zirkel wilderness and a great wildlife experience. Keep it wild and well!

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32


 Comments or Questions
d_baker

I saw you up there!
09/26/2017 03:04
I'm pretty sure we spoke on the trail as you descended from Red Dirt Pass! I talked to a couple of people that told me they did Big A from an unconventional way the day prior, and looking at your route I would say it was probably you two.
Your morning on Mt Zirkel was certainly better than my mid-afternoon summit, as the smokey haze got progressively worse throughout that day.

I went back the following weekend and did Big Agnes from Mica Lake, and that was a nice trip.

Thanks for the added report! Cool area, and I'm glad I took the time to hike there while I was working in Steamboat!


MtnHub

Not boring at all!
09/26/2017 05:45
Good to see a report by you Kitten! I've considered Zirkel in recent years as well, so thanks for the new data!


Kitten

Small world
09/26/2017 19:22
d_baker--OMG, the famous d_baker, yes I remember meeting you up there! I have read your posts over the years and I did not know it was you! I remember you mentioned you were working in Steamboat, and we thought it was pretty cool, that is a very beautiful area to live in. This is a small world indeed... Yes, we got worried when we saw ashes falling in our tent that night, the air quality got much worse. Luckily the fire area was far away, but still it was very hazy the next day.

MtnHub--Doug we missed you this year! did you make it to CO? for us it was a very slow Summer, not much hiking till later in the season. Yes, I highly recommend Zirkel, and this particular area of Colorado.


gore galore
Big Agnes
09/26/2017 22:40
Having done four routes on Big Agnes yours is surely an unconventional way to climb this peak. Your photo "Looking back to the tarn" also shows a seldom climbed peak. When I climbed that peak in 1990 I found a register in a glass bottle placed in 1939. As to the summits of Big Agnes, the late Colorado peak bagger Bob Martin hand level determined in 1995 that "a point a couple hundred yards south, with an equal number of contours, is slightly higher" than the main summit. So cheers to your loop trip in a great area of the Zirkels, Big Agnes and the Sawtooths.



   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.




© 2021 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.