Peak(s):  Mount Neva - 12814
Jasper Peak - 12923
Date Posted:  08/03/2018
Modified:  10/05/2018
Date Climbed:   07/21/2018
Author:  LSUExplorer03
Additional Members:   randallson
 Great IPW Ridge Circuit  


Fair warning...this is my very first TR, so I hope it's helpful and not overkill. I had a bunch more photos, but narrowed it down to these.

I've been in love with the Indian Peaks Wilderness ever since I moved to CO 3 years ago. Sure, RMNP (just to the north) is beautiful, but IPW is far less crowded and provides all the same beauty. Plus there are some lesser known, hidden gems such as Mt. Neva and Jasper Peak to explore! I have been in this area several times over the past few years and have always seen Mt. Neva's north ridge and thought it looked impressive, but until a few months ago, I never knew anything about it (including its name). The one thing I love about it is that you can see your entire route from the safety of the Arapaho Pass Trail.

Getting There:

As usual during summer in the mountains, there was a chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon, so we made sure to get an early start. My buddy, Randy, accompanied me on this climb. We met at 4:30 at a parking lot south of Boulder, jumped in Randy's car and headed up to Nederland. I believe our goal was to start hiking by 6am, and if I remember correctly, we beat that goal by about 10-15 minutes. We double checked all of our gear (we brought a light rack and 30m rope with the anticipation of finding some easy class 5 terrain), and started up the Arapaho Pass Trail just after sunrise.

Wildflowers in full bloom along the Arapaho Pass Trail

We moved pretty quickly along the approach trail and passed the 4th of July Mine by 7am. We stopped for a few minutes to talk to 2 backpackers who had binoculars and were pointing out a few elk down in the basin. They were nice enough to let us look through their bino's which was pretty cool. After that short break, we continued up to Lake Dorothy. It's cool to look up at the North Ridge and know you will be up there shortly. I'll be honest, the ridge looks super imposing and difficult from the side profile you see as you're approaching it, especially the deep V notch at the crux of the climb. After reading several TRs and knowing it was doable, we still couldn't believe it as we looked up at the ridge!

Lake Dorothy on our left, final approach to the N. Ridge

We arrived at Arapaho Pass and headed up the gentle ridge to gain the North Ridge. The trail fades here, but as you get into the small talus just below the N. Ridge, I was very surprised how good the trail was. I was fully expecting loose talus hopping, but that was not the case.

For the remainder of this TR, I will try not to highlight the exact same things that others have shown in their TRs. So please use this TR to supplement others on (the others are amazing and provide a ton of additional details).

The North Ridge:

Start of the N. Ridge

We took another little break at the start of the N. Ridge, got some snacks and threw on our harnesses and helmets. We knew we wouldn't need our harnesses for a while yet, but we were at a nice level area with plenty of space and figured, why not...

The exposure definitely starts out pretty early in the traverse, but it's not vertical exposure. If you tripped or stumbled in the first few 100 yards, it would definitely not be a fun fall, but there are grassy ledges and the slope on both sides is not super steep at first. We then hit our first downclimb into the 1st notch.

Downclimb #1

This downclimb was very straight forward as long as you take your time and pay attention to your holds. This was definitely the easiest of all the downclimbs. Stay on the left (east) side of the ridge here. Also 2 things to note about our experience -- we attempted as best we could to stay on the ridge proper the entire time. I didn't think there were any super difficult sections on the ridge proper, but this definitely adds to the exposure level. In several sections, you can easily skirt some of the towers on the left (east) side of the ridge. 2nd, the rock was incredibly solid and stable for the vast majority of the ridge. I had read this fact in other TRs, but didn't believe how good it really is. I would still recommend testing all holds before committing, but I can only remember a handful of times when a rock moved unexpectedly during this climb.

Looking back at the 1st downclimb
Another downclimb section

Contemplating our descent

Since we had a rope and were trying to stay on the ridge proper, we debated a rappel here. This was the 2nd big notch in the ridge and about 2 or 3 times larger/deeper than the 1st notch. Unfortunately, we did not find any good horns or spots to set up a rappel, so we just back-tracked about 10 feet and skirted this drop to the left (east).

Looking back (north) at the 2nd notch

Here is another angle of the 2nd notch. In the last picture, we were standing at the top of this tower, looking south. The blue line shows the route we ended up taking. Again, we didn't find any real difficulties here, just making sure we took our time and had good footing and holds where needed.

Upclimb from 2nd notch

This is the other side of the 2nd notch. This is the first class 4 section. Although very short (about 12ft climb), there is some decent exposure here. The 2 green arrows seem to be the 2 lines up this section. Randy (pictured here) took the right side -- steeper, slightly more exposure, but better holds; and I took the left line -- lower angle slab with less holds. Then above, we took the blue arrow route. Below is a closer look at that section, but you can easily skirt around the upper section on the left, following the red arrow (but the blue route was fun and added a ton of exposure!).

Upper section of upclimb from 2nd notch

Above is a closer look at what I just described. We took the blue route, which climbed a 8-10ft wall which was very chossy and made footing a little slick. Considerable exposure hits you hard when you get to the top of this little wall. Red route skirts around the left (east) side.

Approaching the crux wall

Now to the crux wall. This is the view of the broad notch in the ridge. This is where we hoped to get some low 5th class climbing in. We carefully planned out our route from here as you have a great view of the entire wall. Our route followed the blue arrow, while I believe others (in other TRs) have skirted around to the left, following the red arrow.



Above is our route we decided on. The black arrow points to the class 5 section. There were 3 vertical cracks that we aimed for. It was class 4 for the first 20ft of this wall, then we roped up and grabbed our gear.


Randy is new to climbing in general and definitely new to belaying and trad, let alone alpine trad...what could go wrong?? Just joking...I had full trust in Randy's belaying and honestly didn't anticipate any falls. But I also didn't know what to expect taking the sharp end...


Above is the our line. Those are the 3 vertical cracks I described above. 2 of the cracks are left of the blue arrow and form an inverted "V" and the other crack is just right of the blue arrow. This was my first alpine trad lead and it was exhilarating! I pulled up onto the angling ledge above my left hand. You can see the large rock sitting on this ledge -- this was very tempting to pull on, but I believe it was completely detached, so I avoided it. Once on that angling ledge, the crux was to ascend one of the cracks. I forget the exact pro I got in, but I do remember a nice nut placement down lower, then a yellow #2 camalot in the right crack. I tried climbing the face of this section, but it was vertical with no real holds and super, super chossy! I finally decided on the far right crack and got some nice foot jams in there to stand up on. These cracks were probably 15-20ft tall. Once above the cracks the remainder of this wall was class 4. I climbed another 25-30ft (very minimal pro) until I found a nice, large ledge to set up a belay. Randy did great, especially with his minimal climbing experience! This was fun and I would highly recommend adding it to the traverse if you don't mind bringing up a rope or are super comfortable with soloing low 5th class.


After Randy joined me on my belay ledge, we unroped and climbed a class 4 chimney like feature. This was fairly steep but had holds everywhere and had minimal left and right exposure...obviously there was plenty of air underneath you if you looked behind yourself when climbing this section. The above picture is from the top of this class 4 section, looking back down to the large, 3rd notch in the ridge.


Once up the crux wall, you are faced with your last real challenge -- you must downclimb into the deep, sharp V notch. Randy is about halfway through the downclimb into the notch. From above the notch, this looked very intimidating and difficult, but once you get into the downclimb, there were huge, bomber holds to be found. The downclimb was probably about 20-25ft long (rough estimate).


The above picture is at the bottom of the deep V notch, looking up. This is the final class 4 section on the ridge. I have to admit, this picture looks very intimidating and makes this section look way harder than it is (in my opinion). This section was vertical, but had large horns and jugs to grab and had a ledge halfway up. There were 2 large rocks that I was hesitant to grab onto -- they looked semi-detached, but as I climbed and inspected them, they were actually well attached and could be used to pull up on. But be careful in this section as the rock is always changing.


Once you're out of the deep V notch, above is the view. At this point, I think you are about half way across the ridge, but 90% done the difficulty. The next couple hundred yards are class 2 and maybe some easy class 3.


After several hours and the ridge taking way longer than we expected (thanks to our break to rope up and climb the class 5 section), we finally reached the summit of Mt. Neva, although I forget what time it was at that point. Above picture is from the summit, looking south to Jasper Peak, blue arrow is our route. Jasper looked surprisingly far away at this point. The hike over took us about 50 minutes and I believe is about 1 mile (double check that stat). Although we didn't feel at risk yet, cumulus clouds were quickly building to the north-west and we decided it was time to pick up our pace for the remainder of our adventure.


We decided to take the Northeast ridge down from Jasper. Although the Northeast ridge is blocked from view in the above picture, the blue line is our route. The red arrow is the East ridge, which drops you down to Diamond Lake.


Here is a good look at the Northeast Ridge from Jasper. There is a distinct low point in the ridge, which we decided to drop down into the talus from that point.


From my research online, Jasper's Northeast ridge is considered class 3. Randy and I were still looking for some adventure, so we were looking forward to some exciting downclimbing. For the first 2/3 of the Northeast ridge, it was just your standard class 2 talus hopping...brutal on the knees. We were slowly becoming disappointed. But then this final tower before our low point in the ridge provided some fun. We took the blue line in the photo above. As with a lot of Neva's north ridge, it looked very intimidating from the top, but then once you assess your line and get into the downclimb, there was nothing too difficult about it...plenty of holds and lots of solid rock! It appeared you could easily skirt around this tower to the south (right side when downclimbing). I'm curious as to why this ridge is considered class 3, assuming this tower could be avoided. Either way, we were satisfied with our last little exposed section.


Just below that tower, we hit the low point in the ridge and decided to drop down into the talus. The next 20 minutes were horrible! Super loose talus led us down to the beautiful alpine lake in the large basin below Jasper.


And of course, the plane wreckage is a must-see. I don't know the history on this crash, but the plane's components were in surprisingly good shape -- the paint was still vibrant and all the lettering on the plane was in great shape. We had one last break here as light rain began to fall, then we began our long bushwack back to the Arapaho Pass Trail. I think our total time car-to-car was 11 hours. Yes, I know, that is a long time...but we took a lot of breaks to get pictures and video, took a lot of extra time to do the class 5 wall (well worth it), and then spent a fair amount of time at the plane wreckage and exploring a mine we found, down near the Diamond Lake Trail. So don't use our 11 hour time as any indicator of how long this circuit should take. This was an awesome adventure and I can't wait to get back up in the IPW to explore some more!

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

Geaux Tiger?
08/04/2018 08:35
From a Ragin Cajun to a Tiger, Welcome to Colorado!! Very nice TR on your 1st try. Neva and Jasper are some great IPW peaks, never had the pleasure of climbing the connecting ridge. When I climbed Jasper from the FOJ, we came across the propeller on the northslopes, east of the crashsite. Plane bounced off the East ridge of Jasper and came to that crashing halt at that big rock. Yes the IPW is a great place to spend some quality time! If you look on the interwebs, you might be able to find Gerry Roach's guidebook, Colorado's Indian Peaks: Classic Hikes and Climbs, 1998. 27 year veteran of peakbaggin from Lafayette. Poo-yie Cher!


LaSalle U
08/06/2018 09:23
Thanks for the comments @boudreaux! My username actually refers to LaSalle University in Philly. I realized a year or so after I started using LSUExplorer that people would assume I was referring to the Tigers, but I just kept it anyways and have been using it for usernames now for like 10 years, lol. Sorry for misleading you. I've been meaning to look up the history of that place interesting to see stuff like that out there. Gerry Roach's book is actually sitting beside me at my work desk as I type...I refer to it regularly. Great book! Cheers!


French enough for me!
08/09/2018 08:54
That you went to a school with a French name is good enough for me, sorta like a distant cousin? You have the book...outstanding. Mine is liberally scribbled with notes. Roach also authored one on the Lost Creek Wilderness, another great reference to have at the desk! Climb On LaSalle!

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