Peak(s):  "Tabor Pk"  -  13,282 feet
"Tellurium Pk"  -  13,300 feet
"West Tellurium"  -  13,074 feet
Date Posted:  03/19/2020
Date Climbed:   09/08/2018
Author:  CUaaron25
Additional Members:   Venni22, Vadim34, jamie
 The Tabor Group: The Perfect Maybe!   

Date Hiked: September 8, 2018
Trailhead: Tabor Creek Trailhead
Peaks: Tabor Pk 13,282 | Tellurium Pk 13,330 | West Tellurium 13,074

In light of the recent found time I've had related to COVID-19, I started thinking back on all the trips my wife and I've done on 13ers over the years. While there are many failures and successes to share, this one that involves talking to strangers is probably one of my favorites!

The 2018 summer hiking season was winding down and after a few months of crisscrossing the state picking up new 13ers, we were looking for a few peaks close to Denver that 'seemed interesting.’ Another requirement was that they needed to be within a realistic distance of a cabin in South Park that my old boss was building and where we’d have a semi enclosed + free place to stay on Saturday night. Writing that sentence and looking at it again today, it’s a miracle that Jamie ended up saying yes to the dress earlier in the year!

A few months before this trip, Jamie and I had reconnected with an old friend of mine, Nick, who had just moved to Colorado. Since then he’s been one of our go to partners when the words ‘unclear’ ‘probably’ or ‘we think’ enter the route description in relation to explaining our weekend 13er plans. I described the group of peaks that were on the radar for Jamie and I that weekend and was met with his usual ‘For sure, that sounds awesome!’ response. After wrapping up work on Friday and then a quick three person meet up in the Mammoth lot to consolidate cars, we were all together rolling up the hill on i-70 towards Leadville.

We stopped at Periodic Brewing for dinner and a pre hike beer because none of us really felt like making dinner that night. The conversation that ensued revolved around ‘how interesting’ the peaks the next day would be and if our black lab Duke would be okay on them. As usual we knew the first peak was probably going to go for Duke but the remaining route after Tabor was fairly questionable.


20054_09
Mmm Hope Pass IPA!

The conversation took longer than usual but eventually we decided to stick to the original plan. We settled up, did the quick drive out to Independence Pass, moved quickly over the pass to the fancy side until we hit Lincoln Creek Road and turned left. After a quick unmemorable drive on Lincoln Creek road in the dark we arrived at the Tabor Creek trailhead. We set up two small tents next to the truck and noticed the stars were crystal clear. Even with our limited DSLR skills, we could probably figure out how to make them appear! A couple failed attempts later and we finally took a few not-so-terrible star shots!

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Star Fail 1!
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Star Fail 2!

We crawled into our tents and sleeping bags and out of the night. The next day came way too soon and when the first alarm went off, I immediately silenced it. When the backup alarm went off, I begrudgingly slipped on my clothes, rolled up my bag/mat, left the tent and started making coffee. It was obvious at this point that we were going to get a late start and more than likely we were just going to have a nice relaxed day out on Tabor with Duke. Perfect excuse to make breakfast and casually start the day.

I’m not 100% sure how cold it was but I’m fairly certain it was ice age cold like every morning seems when we have to leave the comfort of our sleeping bags. We were all in the car warming up, drinking coffee and avoiding the outside world when all of the sudden KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK… There was a dude standing outside of my drivers side window (maybe a little too close) and I was fairly certain none of our friends would ever see us again. I reached down inconspicuously to the center console for a weapon. Unfortunately the most dangerous objects we travel with on a regular basis are ice axes and hot water. The first was in the Thule box above our heads. I briefly thought about asking the stranger to step back to an appropriate distance while I unlocked the Thule box and grabbed an ice axe in case he meant us harm. I knew exactly how I would trick him.

I would crack the window slightly and just tell him: "Excuse me sir, I don't know you but I'm positive you're here to do us harm. Can you step back for a second so I can grab the most dangerous object we have with us so that if i'm right, I'll have a fighting chance." In this scenario he'd say nothing and just move back about 20 feet. BUT that didn't really seem feasible so I ended up with the hot water in my hand. The problem was, the hot water that I was holding in my hand, had just minutes before this thug started banging on my window, been transformed into hot coffee. Correction THE ONLY coffee we had with us. Reluctantly I grabbed the coffee, secretly hoping that this dude wasn’t going to require ‘serious action.' Where would I get more coffee all the way out here if I had to use this cup in self defense???

I reluctantly rolled down my window. The guy was super excited and immediately started talking: ‘HI! Are you all hiking the Tabors today?” Shit I thought, my mind darting to a million places, all except to the answer of this normal question that anyone would be asking at this exact trailhead. I can't remember my answer but I think I said 'maybe.' I was thinking that with this non-committal answer, he'd decide that we were just there to camp, look at the river and drive down into Aspen to have brunch. The perfect maybe!

“That’s great, me too!” Is what I remember him saying. We finished getting ready, drinking coffee, and having a quick word about our new friend. Then Jamie, Nick, Duke, Vadim and myself were setting off into the woods (possibly never to be seen again). To be fair, if a guy/gal at the Grays trailhead asks you if you're about to hike it, that's a normal question. When someone knocks on your window (let me reiterate that - knocks on your window) and asks the same question at a fairly remote group of 13ers that nobody does, I have to admit, I was a bit off balance.

Immediately upon leaving the car there is a creek crossing. It’s one of those crossings, that if you're not going to take your shoes off requires at least two or three perfect jumps to avoid getting everything soaked. This far removed from the trip I think what happened is that we all watched Vadim search and search for an easy way across until he decided to remove his boots and socks, walk across the river and put everything back on when he reached the other side. At least 2 of us did the same but I’m fairly certain one of us got screwed by heroically attempting the jumps and dunked a foot. I think that might have been me... On the other side of the creek we all continued up the valley. Just after the river crossing the trail is braided and confusing. What looks like trail ends up being not trail and what looks like a promising route through the woods ends up being terrible. We were happy to have a group because we spread out and eventually one of us found the actual trail and yelled for the others to come over.

After about 45 minutes we broke treeline on perfect trail and enjoyed the views of the mountains behind us as they caught the early morning light. The brush was just turning yellow and we were all in high spirits, happy to be in the hills.

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Breaking treeline on the Tabor Creek trail.

About fifteen minutes after that, the sun was out in full force and we were stripping down to our base layers. We knew at some point we needed to get up to tabor lake but weren’t exactly sure where the best turn was to leave the trail. Eventually we just left the trail and bushwhacked a bit until we found another faint trail that lead us up to Tabor lake.

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Duke following his new best friend Vadim up to Tabor lake.

There were a couple people fly fishing and we stopped to watch them while we stopped to have a snack. We had a conversation about how steep and loose the slope ahead looked in relation to Dukes ability to go up it safely but came to the conclusion that it looked reasonable for him.

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Nick and Jamie coming up the slope.


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Nick and Vadim. The small loose stuff is loose and the big loose stuff is also loose.


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Jamie, Tabor Lake, Tabor Pk. and a bluebird day!


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Jamie's rating of the slope we just came up!


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The route up the slope from a little higher on the Tabor ridgeline.

All five of us arrived at the top of the slope and had varying opinions of what route was best to get there. In general I think the consensus was that nobody cared as long as you were on a route that didn't involve kicking any rocks onto someone elses head! At this point the remaining route to Tabor was visible and looked reasonable for Duke. Unfortunately we reached a point where we felt uncomfortable letting him continue. Jamie volunteered to stay behind while Nick, Vadim and I went to tag the summit. She and Duke ended up on the isolated bump on the other side of the saddle where we exited the slope. That's likely the least ascended part of this whole ridgeline!

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This is where Duke usually figures out that he's probably not coming with us!


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A relatively straightforward ridge and we were on the summit. Vadim, Me, Nick.

I had read the usual suspects (Furthermore and bergsteigns) trip reports on this route and thought I remembered reading that the south ridge of Tabor might be feasible if you had the time to explore it but we opted to backtrack, head back down the way we came up, past Tabor lake and side hill to the next section. At this point in the day Nick and I were both satisfied with Tabor and thoughts of beers and brats at the car were already starting to percolate. It was fairly obvious that Vadim wanted to go on and his eagerness to do so just sort of rubbed off. We followed him across the hillside continuing up the Tabor Creek valley to try and find the low point in the ridge where we could safely ascend and move over to the valley on the west side of the ridge. We just needed to get over the low point so we could continue on to pick up the last two peaks of the day. At this point Jamie decided to head back to the car to read and hangout by the river in the sun with Duke. I was fairly jealous of her at that point!

We stayed high on the slope and side hilled below the ridgeline. We were hopeful that we'd find it quick and get over to the other side. It took FOREVER, well what felt like forever. The footing isn't great and there's a ton of loose crap big and small to navigate. We continued to look up at the ridgeline wondering what the correct spot to ascend was to get over to the other side. Every gully we looked up seemed fairly awful. The motivation to get to the other side was waning and knowing that there were brats and beers back at the truck was not helping. Vadim kept moving forward though so we just kept following. Eventually he stopped looked up and said "I think this is it." Nick and i looked up, looked at each other, and it was apparent that we both thought he was crazy. We'd come to accept the fact that he wasn't going to let us bail so we started up the sketchy loose slope hoping that it was the correct lowpoint on the ridge. The footing was mostly awful and there were a couple sections where we'd let the first person navigate through and stay off to the side to avoid any rockfall. Finally we broke onto to the ridge and it was miraculously the correct gully. At this point I was fairly happy first that we'd met Vadim and second that he kept pushing us forward!

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Nick in the gully.


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Nick coming up the last section. Note: his hands aren't really holding onto anything of value, just a bunch of choss!

We hung out for a bit at that spot admiring the valleys and peaks on both sides. Eventually we descended into the upper part of Brooklyn Gulch. Going down the slope to the gulch was marginally better than going up the first side. At least the route ahead looked fairly reasonable for the rest of the day.

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The low point of the ridge and the descent on the other side. Tabor is the big one on the left!

We came down into the basin and directly across from us was another small ridge to gain that granted access to our remaining route up Tellurium. Getting up to the ridge was mostly pleasant.

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On the ridge looking back down at a lake in Brooklyn Gulch. The low point of the ridge where we crossed is on the left.

Once we were on the next ridgeline the remaining route up Tellerium was a super fun and scenic ridge run. There are a few sections that were fun to scramble but overall it was straightforward. At least that's how I'm remembering it about 2 years removed from the trip!

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The man, the myth, the legend... VADIM!


20054_23
Nick looking dapper. Tabor on the right. West Tellurium on the left.


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Nick admiring the view over to Tabor. Our exit later in the day would be out of the valley floor on the left.

We were all pretty happy to be on top of Tellurium and gaining steam. Even though West Tellurium looked like it was a bit of a jaunt across an up and down ridgeline, we were motivated to get there and started off after some goofy summit photos on top of Tellurium. The remaining route across that section of the ridge was uneventful and we were on top of West Tellurium in no time!

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On top of the last summit of the day West Tellurium!


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Nick and Vadim with most of our route from Tellurium in perfect view.


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Last summit of the day and Nick brought along his friend Jim to share in it!

We stayed up on West Tellurium for some time pointing out other peaks and other trips that were on our perspective radars, talking about other trips that reminded us of this one and finally we were ready to figure out the way down to Brooklyn Gulch and out to the road.

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Vadim headed down the ridge to the slope we would descend into Brookly Gulch. Our route from Tellurium can be seen in full.

We reached a slope that looked fine to head down and started moving down it without much excitement. Once we reached the bottom we heard gunshots echoing up the gulch we had to walk down. Awesome, there's that excitement we were lacking! I'm sure they spotted us long before we spotted the two groups of hunters but as soon as we saw them we yelled a few times and waived our hands wildly. Knowing that we were only a short hike out to beer and brats, none of really felt like accidentally getting shot! To this day, I'm positive that we could have only helped their chances of spotting a wild animal! "Harry you're alive and you're a terrible shot!"

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Debating getting the path forward that will keep our shoes dry!


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The light starting to fade as we head into the trees.


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Fall in Colorado is so lovely!


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A short time later we were back with Jamie starting the grill and enjoying that beer we'd been thinking about for a long time now. We were discussing the possibility of Mummy Mania before it started to really snow, which is still a day out that 'seems interesting.' Ever since this trip whenever Nick and I are out for a long day we remember one thing - Vadim would keep going so we pretty much have to as well! Then we usually scream as loud as we can 'VADIIIIIIIM!' :)




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Vadim34

Fun day
03/20/2020 16:45
Great write up with some nice pictures! That was a fun day with some beautiful weather and good friends! Thanks for that milkshake IPA after our outing! Awesome area over there!


Tornadoman

Nice beta
03/27/2020 14:08
On some less documented peaks. Thanks for posting!



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