Peak(s):  Ruby Mtn A  -  13,277 feet
Date Posted:  09/14/2019
Date Climbed:   09/10/2019
Author:  rajz06
 Ruby Mountain: Looping the Red Gem  

Starting Point: Argentine Pass: ~11,050’

Peaks Climbed in order of ascent: Ruby Mountain (13,277’)

Route: East slopes ascent and descent via East ridge

RT Distance: ~4.89 miles (from GPX file)

Elevation Gain/Loss: ~2,270 feet (from Google Maps)

Hiking Partner: Parth (aka Garth with a "P")

If you're looking for 13er gems in the Front Range, Ruby Mtn A is a must for your list. Our day started at the Argentine Pass trailhead; the combination of a solid weather forecast and an ultra-short (sub 5 mile RT) hike meant we'd have plenty of opportunities to bask in the beauty of this area.

Starting out on the 4WD road

Incidentally, this was our second visit to Peru Creek in as many weeks; evidently, we can't get enough of it. The road runs parallel to the creek, and the sparkling water and startlingly white rocks were simply too inviting to miss.

Startling white rocks on Peru Creek

A short distance from the gate, the trail leading to the east slopes of Ruby Mtn branches off to the left.

Taking the trail to the left

We followed a rocky path leading to the bluffs.

Where's Waldo?

When we reached the bottom of the bluffs, we were greeted by the remains of the mining activity that was once part and parcel of the history of this mineral-rich region.

The vestiges of the mining boom

After a quick inspection of the mining relics, we pressed on, finding an easy way to skirt around the bluffs.

Skirting around the lower bluffs

Horseshoe basin is a spectacularly beautiful area. It was still too early in the season for fall colors, but the early signs of the season change were not lost on us.

Almost Fall...

After skirting around the bluffs, we arrived at the foothills of Ruby's summit ridge that runs north-south. From this vantage we could see the rocky east ridge to our right, and the scree-filled east slope to our left.

East ridge to the right, east slope to the left

It is somewhat strange to talk about "standard" routes on these seldom-climbed low 13ers, but if there were a standard route it would be the east ridge route. There is no trail beyond this point but the east ridge route was obvious. As we studied the slope, we realized that we could make a loop by ascending the east slope to our left and descending via the east ridge.

Peak is to the far left of the ridge

We figured there would be some scree on the slope but it looked manageable from our vantage point. We played out the possibilities and decided that if the scree was terrible, we would retrace our path and head for the east ridge. After all, we had the whole day and not much elevation or distance separated us from our ultimate goal. So we aimed left and up the slope we went.

Climbing up the lower east slope

We stayed on the tundra to the extent possible to maximize traction, while taking our time to enjoy the views around us.

Argentine Peak across the basin behind us

As we climbed higher, we started angling toward the high point on the ridge. The scree made this part of the ascent a bit of a workout but we brought fresh legs; besides, there's no place we'd rather have been on this Tuesday, or any day for that matter.

Angling up the slope and aiming for the high point

Almost exactly a thousand vertical feet separates the lower part of the east slope from Ruby's summit ridge. It starts out moderately steep and then gets more serious; the last 900 vertical feet stretches over a mere 0.4 miles. The winds had picked up as we persevered up the slope. Aiming for the high point on the ridge turned out to be a good strategy; when we reached the summit ridge, the acme was only a short jaunt to the south.

Atop Ruby's summit. Grays Peak towers to the north.

Ruby's Mountain rewards the visitor with views on all sides. To the west lay the ridge we had climbed on our last outing.

Ridge between SW Lenawee and Lenawee Mountain

To the southwest lay the Tenmile Range with the unmistakable silhouettes of Atlantic, Pacific and Quandary among others.

Tenmile range

Farther in the distance, we could spot the northernmost of the Sawatch 14ers, Mount of the Holy Cross, the couloir on its east face almost devoid of snow.

Mount of the Holy Cross in the distance

Turning to the east, Square Top Mtn and Argentine Peak brought back fond memories of yesteryear excursions.

Square Top Mtn A and Argentine Peak

We lost count of the minutes as we basked in the sun on Ruby's summit. It may have been early for fall colors, but Ruby's top had no dearth of colors - red, orange, yellow - thanks no doubt to the rich mineral content of the rocks. Eventually, we decided to leave its comfortable perch and started heading north on the broad summit ridge,

Heading north on the colorful summit ridge

Our plan was to descend the east ridge to make a loop of this precious gem of a mountain.

Nearing the north end of the summit ridge

The north end of the summit ridge connects with the east ridge, and when we reached the intersection, there it was - the most beautiful nameless alpine lake some 1,200 feet below us.

Unnamed lake. Ridge to Edwards frames this beauty.

The water was a stunning turquoise unlike any other lake in recent memory. We started our descent down the east ridge, with the lake proving to be a real distraction.

East ridge starts out mellow

The ridge started out mellow but we knew there would be more fun bits on the way down.

Easy hiking near the top
Parth straddling rocks like a pro

We stayed on the ridge crest and took advantage of any climbing opportunities that arose. The short clip below shows the type of terrain and exposure on this ridge.

At one point, we were cliffed out and had to retrace our path to find a slightly different route. Anything that prolonged our stay on this mountain was just fine by us.

The east ridge descent was fun and very different from the slog up the scree slope. Doing the loop rewarded us with a wonderful perspective and appreciation for both elements on this hike.

In all, I would rate Ruby Mountain as one of the most memorable peaks I've climbed; and when you consider how little effort this outing took, the effort-to-reward ratio was undoubtedly off the charts. Etched in our memory will be the colorful rocks, the mining relics, the beautiful Horseshoe basin, Peru creek and its white colored rocks. And, of course, that beautiful lake - name or no name, it will be a joy forever.

Yours truly

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

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

09/15/2019 08:56
So, Raj -- now you have your own photographer to record your climbs? LOL!

Nice report! GreenhouseGuy and I took essentially the same route you did and enjoyed it a lot. And he did the TR on it so I guess I had my own personal photog

Good to see you back out and doing TR's. Keep 'em coming!


09/16/2019 22:00
Hey Jay, I've followed your tracks on more than one occasion. Perhaps some day, I'll have the great pleasure of running into you on one of these lesser known peaks. Until then, keep paving the way!

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