Peak(s):  PT 13,500  -  13,500 feet
Twining Pk  -  13,711 feet
PT 13,545  -  13,545 feet
PT 13,001  -  13,001 feet
Geissler Mtn East  -  13,380 feet
Geissler Mtn West  -  13,301 feet
"Igloo Pk"  -  13,060 feet
Date Posted:  10/07/2019
Date Climbed:   09/25/2019
Author:  supranihilest
 The Adventures of Lost Man and Mountain Boy  

In early June I climbed "Igloo Peak" and attempted "Mountain Boy Peak" south of Independence Pass. There was still a ton of snow and I didn't bring the required snow equipment for "Mountain Boy", opting to wear just trail runners and go light. The trip was mostly a scouting operation for Grizzly Peak's Grizzly Couloir anyway, so that was fine. I got some beta on "Mountain Boy" and could come back later. I knew there was a bunch of 13ers north of the pass as well but didn't know anything about them, so I'd come back for them as well.

I'd had a plan in mind to do the northern five 13ers - Point 13,500, Twining Peak, Point 13,545, and Geissler Mountain East/West - in a loop, maybe throwing in a spur out to Point 13,001, Colorado's lowest official 13er. I could also return to try and tag "Mountain Boy" which I did end up attempting (and giving up on) a second time. The route from Twining until the pass between Independence Lake and Lost Man Lake and potentially all of Point 13,001 looked like fun scrambles and I'd want to get them in prior to Independence Pass closing for the winter.

From Independence Pass at 12,095 feet it was a short hike on a mostly good trail to the first 13er of the day, Point 13,500. It took me less than an hour to reach, and I was exhausted from a bad night's sleep.

19885_01
The trail starts on the right/eastern side of the small pond across the road.
19885_02
Up to Point 13,500.
19885_03
Summit of Point 13,500 with Twining Peak in the background.

There was a tiny amount of Class 2 at the very summit of 13,500, and the rest was Class 1 trail.

19885_04
Twining to the left, Point 13,545 just right of center. Blue Lake is the very creatively named lake below the peaks.

There was a big drop in elevation over to Twining but it was all on easy Class 2 terrain.

19885_05
Easy, wide open slopes up Twining.
19885_06
Summit of Twining Peak and the start of the fun!

From Twining over to Point 13,545 things got a lot more interesting.

19885_07
Doesn't look like much from here but there's a lot of gendarmes to climb over and around.

Dropping down to the saddle between Twining and 13,545 was easy enough, no scrambling at all. From that point the difficulties of the ridge became more clear.

19885_08
Caption Here

The ridge narrowed dramatically after ascending to the first point past the saddle.

19885_09
Yummy.
19885_10
A short Class 3 down climb along the ridge.

A bunch of towers followed by short, open sections ran the length of the ridge. There were a lot more towers to climb around than it first appeared.

19885_11
Tower bypassed on ledges.
19885_12
The very next section, another tower!
19885_13
You know the drill.
19885_14
Some Class 2 talus to traverse to yet another tower.

As I crept along the ridge it felt like the numerous towers would never end. Some I went over, others I went around either side on. Finally only two more remained and the summit of Point 13,545 was within reach.

19885_15
Tons down, two to go.

The second to last tower I went straight up and straight down the backside on friable Class 3 slabs.

19885_17
Looking down from the top of the tower.
19885_18
I down climbed about halfway and then scooted left. The right side was steeper but more solid; the left was less steep but somewhat friable.

Finally there was only one tower to go and while it looked like a doozy it was easily bypassed on its eastern side.

19885_16
Uno mas.
19885_19
Steep Class 2+ but not any harder.

From the top the remaining ridge to Point 13,545 eased off in difficulty to a mere hike.

19885_21
Nice.

The short distance to 13,545 went quickly and I surveyed the next peak, Point 13,001 - Colorado's lowest 13er. It was a long ways off down a nasty looking ridge with few or no good escapes, but I knew it went, so down across more Class 3 scampering I went!

19885_22
The red arrow is the summit of Point 13,001.
19885_23
It's hard to make out the scrambling along the complex ridge but it was mostly Class 3 down climbing on super friable rock with steep dropoffs on both sides.
19885_24
More of the ridge. A lot of this rock was rotten so careful selection of holds was required.

At various times the ridge would widen and narrow; the narrow sections were usually the hairiest since they'd either require cat feet to climb directly over, or balancy and exposed moves on the sides of the ridge. Rotten rock need not be mentioned. With exception of the one slab down climb show above this ridge was easily the crux of the day.

19885_25
Initial section of ridge. Not too bad yet.
19885_27
Near where the scrambling stopped. The route finding looks like it might be a little difficult but usually there was only one obvious path down the ridge. The final bit looks almost entirely overhanging and gnarly from below but it all went at Class 3.
19885_28
View back towards Point 13,500 (left background) and Twining. Point 13,545 is off frame to the left.

Point 13,545's north ridge was not as long as its south ridge from Twining, and I was quickly dumped onto nice tundra after perhaps half an hour of scrambling. I didn't like the looks of the next point to the north which wasn't a 13er anyway, so I went over to the saddle south of Lost Man Lake and into that basin.

19885_30
Lost Man Lake with Point 13,001 behind. The ugly looking ridge to the right is the ascent route to the summit, also on the right.
19885_29
Ascent route up Geissler Mountain East's east ridge from the saddle. I'd come back after doing Point 13,001.

Adding 13,001 to my day was a significant detour but it was really the best way I thought to do it. Adding it to the Billy traverse of the Williams Mountains chain to the west might not be doable after an already huge day; same with adding it as a spur to a circle tour of Marten Creek to the northeast. Since I'd already done the most difficult part of the day and had tons of time left I decided to go for it instead of orphan it. This ended up being an excellent choice because I thought it was the best peak of the day!

I hiked down the switchbacks to the lake and past, then up a steep hillside to one of numerous saddles between large granite blocks and slabs on the ridge. From here the remainder of the route looked highly improbable but I knew there were weaknesses.

19885_31
Soaring ridge.
19885_32
It looks like there's going to be a lot of scrambling involved but she's got well kept secret passages!

I crossed over a few of the large blocks in the flats of the ridge then started steeply uphill. By sticking to the south side of the ridge I was able to ascend without any trouble, only coming across a single Class 2+ section that was one or two moves at worst. The large rock was all stable on the ridge, and while there was exposure, it wasn't extreme. Still, some of the climbing required care since a slip could be bad. If this route was wet I would have avoided it, what with slick, steep grass and mud and all.

19885_33
Fun and perfect granite all up and down this one.
19885_34
The one section of hands-on scrambling. I might have been able to bypass it on the left but this was easy and fun, so why waste it?
19885_35
At the top of the scramble. More semi-open, steep slopes and granite to cross over.
19885_36
Final grass and talus to the summit ridge crest, where I turned hard right to the summit.
19885_37
Class 2 to the top!

While the scrambling on either side of Point 13,545 was exciting it was Point 13,001 that was the real gem of this trip. It's one of the few 13ers I've done (so far) that I'd do again. It was funky and interesting and as usual I had it entirely to myself.

19885_38
Twining on the left, Geissler Mountain East in center, Geissler West on the right.
19885_39
Summit ridge of Point 13,001 with Williams Mountains sub-range running left to right in mid-ground.

After taking a couple of photos I quickly descended the way I came up, hiked back past Lost Man Lake and up to the saddle where I faced Geissler Mountain East's east ridge. There was nothing to worry about on the ridge, with it going at easy but loose Class 2. From Geissler East I got a good view of the ridges abreast Point 13,545 and the remaining hike over to slightly shorter Geissler Mountain West.

19885_40
Twining on the right with Point 13,545 on the left and all of that scrambly goodness! Independence Lake is the lake below.
19885_41
Geissler Mountain West.

The descent down Geissler East and up Geissler West was not really noteworthy. There was perhaps a touch of Class 2+ descending Geissler East but I could have avoided it if I wasn't taking the most direct route I could find. Geissler West was also occasional Class 2+ and a little steeper than its higher neighbor. The same loose rock covered both peaks. While ascending Geissler West I ran into an older gentleman from Frisco out doing one of his favorite loops - picking up both Geisslers. He was 74 and was having the time of his life! I hope when I'm 74 (only 42 years to go!) I'm still getting after it like he is.

19885_42
Geissler Mountain West's east ridge.

The views of the Williams Mountains were even better here, and the views of the Elk were similarly great.

19885_43
Williams Mountains. Spicy looking!
19885_44
Lots of other peaks not labeled. Source: https://caltopo.com/view#ll=39.1442,-106.5835&e=6&t=n&z=6&c=-0.9,-103.71

I quickly returned to the saddle between the two Geisslers and began traversing obliquely across a talus slope which would curve into the open tundra then to a shelf that would take me back to Independence Pass. The pass was a long ways away, much farther than expected.

19885_45
Independence Pass is basically straight ahead over a couple of flatish areas. Grizzly Peak is on the far right, and "Igloo Peak" and "Mountain Boy Peak" are along the gracefully curving left-to-right ridge.

I traipsed through the tundra and briefly took the Independence Lake trail before turning off back onto the tundra and towards the pass. I encountered a few obstacles along the way: one, distance, as mentioned; two, there was a couple of ups and downs through broken cliffs with various ways through to the other side.

19885_46
One such cliff band. There were a couple of these and I'd ascend on talus to the top and then descend back down the other side.
19885_47
Still a long ways to go.

Eventually the parking area and the road became apparent, but instead of going back to my car I cut towards "Igloo Peak".

19885_48
"Mountain Boy Peak" on the left, Grizzly Peak in the center looking rugged and handsome, and "Igloo Peak" in shadow.

The hike to "Igloo" is extremely easy - there's an excellent trail the whole way, some of which is an old road - but it's crazy far away. Still, the distance went quick (even with a very brief Class 2 section) due to how good and gradual the trail was.

And then the dinner plating begins. I remembered this stuff from before. It might be the worst dinner plating I've ever experienced.

19885_49
A sea of junk.

While the summit is easily attainable, getting to "Mountain Boy" is another story. The direct ridge is a death trap. Other trip reports that make mention of the ridge all either started up it and turned back or avoided the entire house of cards entirely. The route thus lies in going south across the stuff, which is heinous to even hike on. Not particularly dangerous, mind you, just one million percent suck.

19885_50
Don't even look at the immediate foreground ridge lest it just disintegrate and slough away.
19885_51
Looking southwest down the "easiest" path, which then cuts hard left under some small but awful looking cliffs across more dinner plates and eventually to "Mountain Boy".

I have no idea what the hike is like from this point. Maybe "Mountain Boy" itself is in better shape. The color of the rock certainly suggests it's at least something different. I turned around at this point, not wanting to waste another couple of hours swimming in this stuff, and reascended (which is actually slightly easier than going down it) to "Igloo". I'd come back for "Mountain Boy" another time; third time's the charm, right?

(Doing a bit more research after the fact, I could cut through Mountain Boy Park (the basin "Igloo" and "Mountain Boy" encircle) to the "Igloo"/"MB" saddle, which is probably the easiest way. Two other possibilities are to take either "MB"'s northeast ridge, which looks like it might be awful, or the basin west of "Igloo" from the Independence ghost town, saving myself most of the dinner plates. Of course I could still do the southern route but that sounds like Type 2.5 fun at best, so no thanks.)

19885_52
Back to the pass.

I still don't consider this trip out to "Igloo" to be a waste, even though I'd already done it once. Now I know it sucks just as much and even more without snow, so that's good. I thus returned to the pass, running the downhill sections in quick fashion. Six more new 13ers, tons of awesome scrambling, and some more beta? That's a good day!


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Trailhead: Independence Pass
Total distance: 16.87 miles
Total elevation gain: 6,197 feet
Total time: 9:35:06
Peaks: Seven 13ers (five ranked, two unranked)

  • Point 13,500
  • Twining Peak, 13,711'
  • Point 13,545 (unranked)
  • Point 13,001
  • Geissler Mountain East, 13,380'
  • Geissler Mountain West, 13,301'
  • "Igloo Peak", 13,060' (unranked)

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Independence Pass Point 13,500 0:51:58 0:51:58 0:00
Point 13,500 Twining Peak 0:35:55 1:27:53 0:00
Twining Peak Point 13,545 1:07:17 2:35:11 0:00
Point 13,545 Point 13,001 1:28:48 4:03:59 0:00
Point 13,001 Geissler Mountain East 1:15:18 5:19:16 0:00
Geissler Mountain East Geissler Mountain West 0:50:27 6:09:43 0:00
Geissler Mountain West "Igloo Peak" 2:34:31 8:44:14 0:00
"Igloo Peak" Independence Pass 0:50:52 9:35:06 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 16 17 18 19 21 22 23 24 25 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52


 Comments or Questions
Trotter

good beta
10/10/2019 10:34
The geissler loop is on my short list. Looks fun


supranihilest

Fun
10/10/2019 13:46
@Trotter: this was one of the better loops (excluding my detour to "Igloo" but including Point 13,001) I did this year so I highly recommend it to you or anyone else reading this!


Tornadoman

001
10/11/2019 09:43
Lowest and one of the best, certainly worth a revisit! Some other nearby books look quite interesting (Williams group, etc).


supranihilest

100
10/11/2019 11:03
@Tornadoman: That entire area is pretty amazing (with exception of "Igloo" and "Mountain Boy", from my experience): this loop was great, the Williams Mountains look great, the circle tour to the northeast of 13,001 in Marten Creek drainage looks to be a fun, huge day, and Lincoln Creek drainage is spectacular with Grizzly and the other peaks that make up the Sawatch's western wall there. I can't really speak to the peaks immediately to the east ("Lackawanna"/Deer/Frasco group) but the Independence Pass area as a whole has been a gem. More trip reports on that area to come next year. ;)



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