Peak(s):  Gladstone Ridge  -  13,209 feet
Date Posted:  06/21/2020
Date Climbed:   05/24/2020
Author:  supranihilest
Additional Members:   whileyh, MWatson
 A Real Hidden Gem of a Route  

Gladstone Ridge sits unassuming and alone between its fourteener neighbors Mount Yale and Mount Princeton. Surrounded by roads it nonetheless is a very overlooked peak, which is too bad because it's both easy and gorgeous.

After yesterday's big day nabbing the unnamed thirteeners west of Mount Princeton, and with afternoon snow rolling in, we were looking for something we could get up and down quickly in the morning. Gladstone Ridge nearby provided just such an easy day. We didn't want to ascend its north side, which most other reports describe, since we figured it'd be very snowy, so we pulled a route from Peakbagger done by Paul Stratmoen up Jonesy Gulch. Thanks for the inspiration, Paul. We drove up the road and passed a small parking area at the bottom of Jonesy Gulch (38.761483, -106.350717) but it was full. We drove a bit further and grabbed two small pulloffs on the side of the road, then just jumped into the forest heading north. (I forgot my phone in my car so all photos were taken by Whiley and Marisa.)

20145_01
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: trees.
20145_02
Marisa and I on Gladstone's lower slopes.

The lower portion of the route up Jonesy Gulch is a massive aspen glade. There's copious amounts of deadfall but because they're mostly small aspen instead of larger pine or spruce the going is easy.

20145_04
Endless aspen.
20145_05
Lil' baby aspen.
20145_06
Looking towards Mount Princeton.

The entire route from the road all the way to the summit is relatively steep - approximately 1,000 feet of gain per mile. The route can generally be described as "go up." That's part of the beauty of this thing, is the utter simplicity of it. It's almost impossible to go wrong or get lost. Numerous small streams bubble down the slopes of Jonesy Gulch, so many that they were impossible to keep track of as we wound our way up.

20145_07
One of infinite.
20145_08
Twins.
20145_09
Such a pretty area.

With things being consistently steep it sometimes made sense to use the trees as uphill assistance. Only in one short section of maybe 100 vertical feet did the route feel very steep, and this was obviously short lived. As we hiked the trees slowly changed from aspen to evergreen.

20145_10

20145_11

Our first goal was simply to reach an unnamed lake nestled high in the gulch. From this obvious waypoint we would continue generally northeast to the summit. There was a little snow to contend with, and a few postholes, but nothing beyond a mild annoyance. The lake was easy to find, we just followed the streams to their source. This would be quite a pleasant picnic spot, and you'd be almost guaranteed to have it all to yourself!

20145_12
Thin, cobwebby ice on the lake.
20145_13
Looking northwest up the gulch to its end.

At the lake we discussed whether we wanted to continue all the way up the gulch and contour along the ridge for a longer, more scenic route or just go in as straight a line as possible.

20145_14
Up Jonesy.

We debated for only half a minute or so and decided to take the direct route since we'd been getting drizzled and snowed on intermittently all morning and dark clouds were building up to the west over Taylor Park.

20145_15
Leaving the lake. This early in the season the willows weren't much of a problem.

We had a few hundred feet of semi-open trees/willows/tundra to hike before reaching treeline, where everything gave way to expansive tundra.

20145_16
Mount Princeton on the far left with its unnamed thirteeners stretching along the ridge.
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Typical above treeline terrain (nine times out of ten you'll find me there).
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We even saw a small herd of elk! A few are visible here just below skyline on the left.

The summit wasn't visible from here and wouldn't be until we were almost on top of it, but the direction of travel was obvious. By now it was cold, windy, and blasting snow. The surrounding peaks kept oscillating between visible or not as the clouds swirled through the sky.

20145_19
Who needs jackets when it snows?
20145_20
Tundra sidewalk into the sky.
20145_21
Looks messy but it's actually super pretty with a bit of snow flying about.
20145_22
Princeton in its hidey hole.

The summit came quickly today as we powered up the hill - less than two hours to the summit! There aren't many 13ers that can be climbed that quickly, so this would be a good one to do as an early morning/late afternoon ascent on an otherwise busy day.

20145_23
Some of the only talus en route to the summit. It was stable but the snow made it wet and a bit slick.
20145_24
That right there's a summit.
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Small stack of rocks on the summit, looking southwest. The summit register tube was broken and the register itself missing.

With the mini-blizzard whipping around us we didn't spend long on top of Gladstone Ridge, just long enough to take some pictures and exchange fist bumps for another nice climb.

20145_27
Looking back down towards Jonesy Gulch, which is roughly formed by the snowy wall and the grassy rollover.
20145_28
Nuking just a bit on the way down. There was a small amount of accumulation, not much to worry about though.
20145_29
Clouds doing their cloud things.

We flew down the upper mountain back to treeline, then slowed down a bit as we took a more direct route down, avoiding the lake. The initial section at treeline was quite steep and the snow had made the ground slick.

20145_30
Back at treeline.

As we descended we'd pick a stream and follow it for a bit, then latch onto another and follow it, and then another, and another.

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Stream number ∞.
20145_32
Splish splash, taking a bath.

Pretty much all day we couldn't stop remarking about how beautiful this climb was. It's easily one of the more scenic climbs I've done in a while, and the level of effort required to get that scenery fix is next to nothing compared to many others.

20145_33
Back to blue skies. The weather was totally schizophrenic.
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Aspen on aspen on aspen.

We entered the aspen grove and just absorbed it as we descended. It was sunny and warm again, and the light filtering through onto the baby aspen buds was quite handsome. We reached the road barely an hour and ten minutes after leaving the summit, an overall lightning fast round trip climb. Gladstone's one of those easy peaks I'd probably do again and again, with or without partners or with or without a plan, just because. It struck a great balance of beauty and effort, and I think Jonesy Gulch to be a truly fine route and one that more people should climb.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H., Marisa W.
Trailhead: Chaffee County Road 344 (parking at 38.761483, -106.350717)
Total distance: 4.44 miles
Total elevation gain: 2,629 feet
Total time: 3:00:32
Peaks: One ranked thirteener

  • Gladstone Ridge, 13,209'

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Chaffee County Road 344 Gladstone Ridge 1:48:38 1:48:38 0:00
Gladstone Ridge Chaffee County Road 344 1:11:54 3:00:32 Trip End

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
Jay521


I'm hooked...
06/22/2020 01:52
OK - I gotta go back and do Gladstone again via Jonesy.


supranihilest

Jonesy
06/22/2020 14:43
Jay, I saw you had done Gladstone a few days earlier via Denny Creek and encountered lots of snow. I thought to myself more than a couple of times how much nicer Jones would have been for ya!


Jay521


Time and snow...
06/23/2020 07:07
Yeah - it was a couple weeks earlier... in 2017 LOL! But yeah - even then, Jonesy might have been better. And I think your scenery was better given the lake and all the streams.


supranihilest

I am an idiot
06/23/2020 08:33
I have absolutely no idea what I saw, Jay. I think the constant time at elevation is giving me hypoxic brain damage. Please ignore my ramblings. WTF.


Jay521


LOL!
06/23/2020 09:50
I assumed you were referring to the TR I did on it - https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=17739 And yeah, there certainly was snow!



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