Peak(s):  Pettingell Pk  -  13,553 feet
"Citadel, The"  -  13,294 feet
Date Posted:  07/23/2018
Modified:  07/26/2018
Date Climbed:   07/20/2018
Author:  RizL
 Pettingell to Citadel Traverse  

At about 3 in the morning, Robbie and I set out to bag the summits of Pettingell and “The Citadel”. With the graceful words of Paul Simon bumping in my car, I was ready to kill these two iconic 13ers. Hitting the trailhead at about 5am, Robbie and I set out on the Herman Gulch Trail, and continued up it towards the Herman Gulch Lake. About 2 miles in we met the not-so-local yote (whose name I didn’t catch- we’ll just call him Dave). If you’re lucky enough to also meet Dave he’ll tell you all about the 20 14er’s he’s climbed (most doubles) and how you would kick the sh*t out of anyone from Michigan (his home state) if you were to challenge them to a cardio-off. Dave was moving pretty quick relative to us and decided to drop us closer to the lake at the Jones Trail turn off. Spoiler- we never found the Jones Trail turn off, we just thought we did. At this point Robbie and I cranked the bushwacking knob up to about 4 and made our way to the top of the hill right before the East Ridge of the Citadel. “Good luck!” yelled Dave from the lake a few hundred feet below us.

The Citadel on the left, Pettingell in the middle and the large hill on the right used to approach the East Ridge of Pettingell.

Before crossing onto the ridge I snacked my first Clif Bar. This peanut butter banana bar hit the spot-- I give it a solid 19 stars out of a possible 23 as far as bars go. We then threw our lids on and proceeded onto the ridge. This class 3 scramble was pretty good. Ahead for most of the trek is the ominous headwall of the ridge. Sadly I didn’t pack enough Big Bros or Valley Giants and we weren’t able to score an FA of the chimney on the headwall (Wideboyz are rumored to be flying out next month to send it). Continuing up the ridge another half mile we stuck the summit of Pettingell. This boulderfield of a summit isn’t anything to write home about except for the view of the next target, The Citadel. It also has great cell reception for Verizon and I took advantage of this moment to check my stock portfolio. Props to Microsoft for throwing a few extra bucks in my pocket.

View of the East Ridge as you approach it.

Robbie on the first steps of the ridge.

Coming off the summit of Pettingell is a task in itself. Have fun navigating the class 2 boulderfield off the top, and do your best not to drop down too low on the peak or you’ll miss the ridge. Turn left at the marmot turd and voila you’re on your way to bagging the Citadel. Robbie and I mostly side hilled our way along the ridge until the reaching the 5.4 pitch. “There’s bolted anchors at the top, right?” asks Robbie enthusiastically. “Yeah I’m pretty sure” I respond. At this point I munched my second Clif Bar. The chocolate brownie is an all time classic and I have no idea why. This thing tastes okay but the texture is nothing close to a chocolate brownie. In hindsight I should’ve just tossed a chocolate brownie in my bag instead. This bar ranks in at an 8 stars (again, out of 23). I flake the rope out and rack up my Black Diamond Camalots (no free ads but these cams are quality). Robbie throws me on belay, we double check ourselves, and with my double bowline properly backed I set up the 5.4 in my Asolo hiking boots (no free ads). Placing gear pretty thin, this route was easily done with a single rack from .3 to 2. The hero gear of the day would’ve been my RP’s if I had remembered to bring them, but the offset stoppers worked fine for my passive pro needs. I ran the route out at the top through the 4th class scramble, careful not to knock choss loose on Robbie, and got to the top. No bolts anywhere to be seen. I threw up a gear anchor slinging a feature plus a nut and a cam, and called down to Robbie, “on belay”. Robbie made his way to the top, surprised to see my extra gear in the rock instead of on the rack. “No bolts?!” he says. “Nil” I simply respond. Cleaning up gear was quick and we made our way through the 3rd class to the first summit. The summit wasn’t a great place to hang out so we persevered down the back to a small gulley crossing and dumped onto the second summit. This one had a lot more room to lounge around so we pulled out the La-Z-Boy and set up shop. Again, I checked my stocks. Microsoft still pulling through for me. Somewhere in here I also ate my last Clif Bar, a chocolate chip. I agree with the general populace that this IS a quality bar and would rate this one equal to the peanut butter banana at 19 stars out of 23.

The ridge from Pettingell to it's false summit if approaching from the opposite direction.

First looks at the saddle between Pettingell and the Citadel.

The beginning of the 5.4 pitch. The total pitch length seems about 80 feet including the 4th class scramble at the top.

Robbie cranking through the 4th class. One of the best pitches of 5.4 I've ever climbed.

Me atop the Citadel, grinnin' over my portfolio.

With all the gear and no desire to downclimb fourth class, I cut the old webbing off the rappel and put some fresh stuff up for Robbie and me. We pulled off and continued down the trail to the saddle. That’s where it happened. Inevitably I always trip on a hike, and this bad boy came out to get me (see picture). Watch out to anyone coming up or down, he bites. We continued down the trail and made our way across the gulch, cranking the bushwack-o-meter up to about a 6. Nearing the top of the hill, our spirits were low mostly from the willow bushes but then we saw the main vein. Our trail home. We took this babbie all the way back to the car and even put up with the “You’re almost there” casuals coming the other way.

Our rappel off the top.

Mean rock that shinned me.

Overall this was a great trip and clocked in just under 10 miles for the whole thing. I would highly recommend this for a first technical alpine route due to the length and grade of the fifth class portion. Frankly my descriptions were pretty poor and we would've been lost without the guidance of Wolfe’s Colorado's Front Range Thirteeners, a read I highly recommend to aspiring peak baggers.

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

07/28/2018 21:24
I believe your Dave may possibly be Hans from Empire.

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