Peak(s):  Winfield Pk  -  13,077 feet
Virginia Pk  -  13,088 feet
"West Virginia"  -  13,140 feet
"Sheep Rock Mtn"  -  13,255 feet
PT 13,235  -  13,235 feet
PT 13,253  -  13,253 feet
PT 13,253 South  -  13,253 feet
Granite Mountain, 12,848 (unranked)
Date Posted:  07/03/2020
Modified:  07/04/2020
Date Climbed:   06/27/2020
Author:  bmcqueen
 Winfield to Granite Loop  

Winfield to Granite Loop

I had originally planned to zip down to Chicago Basin for the weekend to get my last summer grid spot - that pesky North Eolus that I ignored my first time in the basin back in July 2003. I hadn't done those peaks in June, so I would also get new grid spots on the other three for my efforts from Purgatory. When decision time came, the weather for Saturday, which needed to be a big day, just didn't look promising enough to justify the long drive there and back Friday and Sunday. Instead, I opted for the better weather forecast in the Sawatch and decided to get some new 13ers instead.

A look at most of the loop just after sunrise.

I had read supranihilest's trip report on the Virginia group, which described a less than pleasant early morning creek crossing along with a couple of exposed moves on loose rock at the end of the loop to get back to the Continental Divide Trail at the saddle near Lake Ann. I decided to modify my route slightly for those couple unpleasantries.

Saturday June 27, 2020

13.87 miles per my In-Reach
11:28 car to car
~5,000 vertical feet

I decided to camp up the Winfield Road a bit past the cemetery, just before the Continental Divide Trail. Scouting out the map and the bushwhack up to Winfield Peak, I was going to need to cross the creek. I wandered up to the CDT Friday night from camp, thinking there would probably be a bridge. Sure enough, a nice bridge, so I would not start my morning with cold wet feet.

CDT bridge across the creek near my camp.

I left camp at 3:34 AM since there was a chance of thunderstorms about 2:00 PM and crossed the bridge in the dark. The early bushwhack wasn't terrible as I aimed for the road. I followed it for a bit, but it clearly didn't get much use and kept vanishing in the growth. I finally just headed uphill again to get out of the trees.

Looking up towards Winfield Peak once out of the trees and on the ridge (road is visible just below the saddle).

Given that it was a summer Saturday, it was no surprise to see a line of headlights driving up the 390 road towards the Missouri Gulch or Huron THs.

Headlights off in the distance on the 390 Road.
Almost to Winfield Peak with Virginia (center) and the Apostles on the left.

I was on top of Winfield 2:31 after starting, then zipped over to Virginia at the 2:51 mark. Sunrise from Winfield was lovely.

From Winfield.
Looking towards Virginia

From Virginia, I headed west to none other than "West Virginia" and climbed up to its much smaller summit (3:46 elapsed). Most of the peaks on the loop had old summit registers - always fun to see familiar names. I added mine, then continued moving along.

Off to "West Virginia"

"Sheep Rock" was up next (4:26 elapsed) then the UNs - 13,235, 13,253 and 13,253 (south). The ridges between these peaks are all very straight forward, so forgive me for not offering much in the way of beta. Pretty much - from one summit, descend to the saddle, ascend to the next summit and repeat.

Apostles in the distance and Granite in the foreground.

I was 5:23 in at 13,235, 6:57 in at 13,253 and 7:12 in at 13,253 (south). I looked longingly at the Apostles all day, knowing that I would be on West Apostle in the morning (see Joel's report on that).

Grizzly Peak E off in the distance. I briefly considered a side trip, but opted to save it for another day.
Jenkins and the Elk Range to the northwest.
Taylor Park Reservoir to the southwest.

As I headed around the loop, I was thinking about the icky descent down the tail end of the loop and also eyeing a 12er in the center called Granite Mountain. The ridge to Granite goes from 13,253 and looked broken/loose, but doable. I took one more look from 13,253, then went over to 13,253 (south) to finish the 13ers, then returned to 13,253 to descend the ridge towards Granite.

Almost to 13,253 and 13,253 (south).

Lake Ann barely visible below the Apostles.

I stayed mostly ridge proper where the rock was more solid. For the most part, I would say Class 2+ with maybe an easy class 3 move here and there. There are a LOT of ups and downs on the ridge to Granite though - a bit annoyingly so. I hoped maybe I was at least getting a ranked 12er (it's not).

Looking at the long, chossy ridge to Granite Mountain.
Looking across at the Apostles from the Granite Ridge. It would be easy to bail straight into the basin from here.

More ups and downs en route to Granite with Huron behind.

I summited Granite at the 8:57 elapsed time mark, then descended back to the south and east to return to the CDT. Once again - not a terrible bushwhack. A couple with a child carrier seemed a little surprised to look behind them on the trail and find someone there where there hadn't been before. After a quick hello, I continued down the CDT back towards civilization (ok, so the closest thing would be the Huron TH). I actually decided I wasn't ready for that much civilization after not seeing another soul on my loop, so I decided to stay on the CDT as it cut back west just before the Huron TH. I find the "Hope Pass" sign somewhat odd since the sign points west and Hope Pass is north and east, but I knew the trail would take me right back to my campsite. Two more nice bridges, a water refill from the stream and I was cruising on easy, mostly flat terrain the last couple miles back to camp. I was back at camp about 3:00 PM, ready to relax and refuel before doing West Apostle Sunday with Joel and Staci Q.

Ah, tomorrow's project...

Very mellow loop overall that is certainly doable with a decent forecast. Thanks for reading.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
2 4 5 14 16 17 20 21 22 23 24 26 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 57 58 59 61

 Comments or Questions

Wow what a route
07/03/2020 17:19
Iâll have to try this sometime. Thanks for the great write-up. Any camp sites seen along the way? Assuming so from the write-up. Nice job


07/04/2020 08:51
Great trip report. I did this last fall before the first big snowstorm of the season, brings back sweet memories.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.