Peak(s):  PT 13,034  -  13,034 feet
PT 13,111  -  13,111 feet
PT 13,020 D  -  13,020 feet
"Baldy Lejos"  -  13,100 feet
Date Posted:  09/24/2019
Modified:  09/29/2019
Date Climbed:   08/31/2019
Author:  supranihilest
 San Juan Sentries: The Farthest Baldy of Them All  

This is part two of a four part report. Over a four day Labor Day weekend in 2019 I climbed 17 of 21 13ers in the La Garita Wilderness. You can find all parts here:


Having climbed the Organ/Stewart group of 13ers the previous day I planned to do the "Baldy Lejos" group of four 13ers today. I slept terribly - both sinuses were blocked - and woke up exhausted. No matter. I'd gather the energy I needed from the very mountains I would be climbing. I did get a late start though, some time after 8am, and was hoping that I could beat the 40% chance of afternoon storms. It was another big day but the only semi-technical peak was the first, Point 13,034, so that's where I headed right away. I had to hike the road from the Equity Mine to West Willow Creek Trailhead, which tacked on between 1.5 and 1.75 miles and around 500' of vert, but it served as a good warmup and I arrived at the trailhead feeling chipper despite the poor night's sleep.

19761_01
Are you calling me fat?
19761_02
Road to Heaven.

From the trailhead a trail goes north to San Luis Pass, and a 4WD road goes west into the wilderness towards Rat Creek and Point 13,034. This road was quite steep but convenient, and I followed it to the top of the pass between Rat Creek and West Willow Creek drainages and then off into the tundra. San Juan splendor was all around me.

19761_03
Oooh.
19761_04
Ahhh. 14er San Luis Peak in center.

From the pass I got my first views of 13,034. Reading trip reports made it sound fairly easy. Class 3, and loose Class 3 at that, but very little of it and certainly nothing like the wild looking ridge would imply.

19761_05
Point 13,034. This one is actually pointy.

From the pass the road split and went down into the basin and up along the ridge connecting Point 13,034 to a 12er in between 13,034 and Point 13,111. Decisions, decisions. I know! Screw the roads, go in a straight line towards the peak on nice tundra. Down onto the tundra I went. There were some minor ups and downs and a little bit of shattered, dinner plated Class 2 granite to cross but the distance went quickly and I soon found myself with more impressive views of the peak.

19761_06
Ok, starting to look pretty gnar.

Once I hit the willows I turned right/north and attempted to go around them as best as I could. The lower ridge was also lower angle, and wide and flat on top. I'd rather hike that than willows. Atop the ridge I got nice views of the rugged north face of 13,034. This peak was pretty awesome!

19761_07
Rugged north walls.

There was a gully across the basin I could climb up but it looked steep and gross. I'd only use it if it began to rain, otherwise the northeast ridge proper was the way to go from here!

19761_08
The gully. There'd be no scrambling on the other side, as it was a large plateau that gently went up to the summit.

Once atop the ridge things started getting more interesting. The ridge narrowed and steepened, steepened and narrowed. It eventually kicked back into a series of outcrops and then cliffs and towers.

19761_09
Ok, not so bad yet.
19761_10
A closer view of the upper outcrop.

The terrain on the ridge went from Class 1, to Class 2, to Class 2+ as it got steeper. The rock was loose but it wasn't terribly friable; I could pull it apart if I wanted to but I mostly just had to be careful of the already loose junk stacked on top of other loose junk. That stuff shifted, the rest did not.

19761_11
Just about the only trail on the ridge. Not all that steep or loose.

As I climbed higher the options for easy climbing ran out and the exposure began to ramp up. I encountered the first truly difficult portion of the ridge, a couple of ugly looking stacked dinner plate towers. This rock was awful and broke apart at the touch. I had to be very light with my movements so as to not shock load the rock in any way, lest it crack and break.

19761_12
Some not so good rock on the ridge. Note the bulge along the vertical left skyline - that's the key to making this easier.
19761_13
Closer shot of the rock. I scrambled up this to the set of dihedrals above before coming back down.

On top of this short buttress I was presented with what was essentially a blunt knife edge or catwalk of smashed up dinner plates leading to a nearly vertical arête. It looked extremely unpleasant to cross or climb up, like I'd have to sweep the broken rock off the catwalk first before timidly crossing it and then skirting the arête on small, broken ledges. There had to be a better way.

19761_14
Not very appealing.

I climbed back down the small buttress and looked to the left; the right was obviously a no-go, it was just steep scree and dirt down to the basin with overhanging rock above. The left side offered a bulge to climb under and there wasn't really anywhere else to go, so I crouched under it and clamored through.

19761_15
The Keyhole, so to speak, of this route.

The other side opened up a lot below the catwalk and arête I had left behind earlier. There were several options.

19761_18
I took the Class 3 option up and the Class 2+ option down.

A couple of minutes of fun scrambling later I was on the summit ridge which was an easy stroll away from the summit itself.

19761_19
Despite the rocky ridge the summit was just a grassy bump.
19761_20
Peaks to the east. I'd climbed Organ to Baldy Chato (sans San Luis) the previous day and would be climbing Point 13,300 to Point 13,155 the next (Point 13,180 C not visible).

There was plenty more still to do today so I quickly signed the summit register and began backtracking along the ridge. I found an alternative to the Class 3 I climbed up on skier's right. It was slightly more exposed but not overly so and really only consisted of one or two moves of Class 2+ on solid rock before returning to the grass/rock mix on most of the rest of the ridge.

19761_21
Looking down the couple moves of Class 2+.

From this point onward the remainder of the route would be Class 1 (mostly off-trail) and Class 2 talus. Quickly returning to below any of the difficulties, I had a long, curving, mostly flat walk to get under a rocky 12er and from there climb high onto the ridge extending north to "Baldy Lejos".

19761_22
Nearing the curve in the ridge. Behind and to the right is Point 13,034. To avoid losing elevation I skirted around the depression below the rock bands and went up between the two small, rocky outcroppings on the right.

After topping out in the flats below the 12er I got my first good look at Point 13,111, a big jumble of talus among a seemingly endless series of talus bumps on the ridge.

19761_23
Point 13,111 on the left.

From the saddle prior to 13,111 I got a view of the remaining route. The last peak on the ridge, "Baldy Lejos", was quite far away. As it turns out "lejos" is Spanish for far or away, so literally "Baldy Far Away". I'm all about it, let's go!


19761_24
Point 13,111 is the prominent peak on the right. The central bump is a 12er. Point 13,020 D is the gray peak on the left, and "Baldy Lejos" is way in the back, in shadow.

I'd be skirting ridge bumps for the next few hours attempting, for once, to gain as little elevation as possible. There was no point in going directly over each bump, just the ones I wanted. Point 13,111 was easy enough, just walk straight up the talus to the summit.


19761_25
A couple of small cliffs to avoid in the center of the slope but nothing serious.

From Point 13,111 the ridge stretched on for forever. The next peak looked like it was ringed by chossy cliffs and didn't look particularly easy to skirt.

19761_26

Descending and hiking between the two I had to avoid one bump before reaching the talus-laden slopes below the cliffs. Left didn't look any good, but there was a small break in the cliffs on the right that I could scamper through and then traverse on the side of the hill.

19761_27
Somewhat steep and loose Class 2 through the ugly cliff band.
19761_28
There's a trail very faintly visible through the talus on the left side of this photo. It went over the ridge and then petered out. Point 13,020 D is on the left and "Baldy Lejos" is on the right.

From this last rocky point there were no more bumps in the way. There'd been something like four or five since Point 13,111 with this last one barely not reaching 13,000 feet. Mellow grass took me to the summit of 13,020 D.

19761_29
Bubbly.
19761_30
"Baldy Lejos" is actually a pretty cool peak with all of its broken cliffs and mesas and sub-peaks. The two unnamed points along the way were just glorified bumps. The route I took goes up the darker grassy slope in the middle, right under the small saddle.

"Baldy Lejos" has a lot of complex terrain as it's several layers of otherwise uniform rock stacked on top of each other and then smashed up. The easiest route up is still only Class 2 as it navigates steeply up the side and then across the tilted mesas.

19761_31
Nearing the top. There's small outcrops like this all over the western side of the mountain.
19761_32
The farthest reach of "Baldy Lejos". It's a little lower and thus there was no need to go that far.

I sat on the summit for a bit, alone, and enjoyed the views. The hiking of the last two days plus the poor night's sleep wasn't exactly catching up to me, I wasn't bonking, but I was definitely tired. I'd have to catch up on sleep tonight since it was an easier, shorter day and I'd have more time. After about 20 minutes of lounging I left for the long walk back down the ridge.

19761_33
From the top of the grassy gully I walked up. The summit is behind me. Point 13,111 is left of center, Point 13,020 D is right of center, and Point 13,034 is on the far right.

The ridge was just as long on the way back as it was on the way out. Go figure. I guess this isn't House of Leaves after all. I tried a couple of different routes around the bumps but for the most part just took the same way back. Right before Point 13,111 the Colorado and Continental Divide trails cross a pass, so I picked up the good trail there and took it east. It switchbacks through the valley en route to San Luis Pass, where it splits at a four-way junction. I turned south back towards the trailhead and hiked past a few San Luis Peak hikers, then down the road back to my car. Nine thirteeners down in the last two days; eight more to go in the next two.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Total distance: 16.56 miles (this day) / 37.98 miles (weekend to this point) / 71.38 (weekend total)
Total elevation gain: 4,553 feet (this day) / 12,271 feet (weekend to this point) / 22,798 (weekend total)
Total time: 7:39:45
Peaks: Four 13ers (three ranked, one unranked)

  • Point 13,034
  • Point 13,111
  • Point 13,020 D (unranked)
  • "Baldy Lejos", 13,100'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Equity Mine West Willow Creek Trailhead 0:37:27 0:37:27 0:00
West Willow Creek Trailhead Point 13,034 1:49:25 2:26:53 0:00
Point 13,034 Point 13,111 1:21:07 3:47:59 0:00
Point 13,111 Point 13,020 D 0:45:00 4:32:59 0:00
Point 13,020 D "Baldy Lejos" 0:24:35 4:57:34 19:08
"Baldy Lejos" Equity Mine 2:23:03 7:39:45 Trip End

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 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34


 Comments or Questions
SnowAlien

Elevation gain
09/29/2019 09:37
Should be around 4k like in other reports, not 7.7k. Mileage looks high by a few miles also


supranihilest


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