"Mountain Boy Pk" - 13,198 feet
"Igloo Pk" - 13,060 feet
"Mountain Boy Pk" - 13,198 feet
"Igloo Pk" - 13,060 feet
|Pigiitchuk Igloo: Bad House (with a Sunset)|
Photo: Mountain Boy and Igloo from the parking lot.
Pigiitchuk Igloo: Bad House
One of the great things about hiking in Colorado, when you’re plans change, there are boundless other opportunities.
Had plans for Crested Butte. That changed. Then plans for Lackawanna. But sleeping-in felt better. Still wanting to get out and to be in the Sawatch for Sunday plans… I wanted to hike something on Saturday.
Why not a sunset hike?
What might be an easy one?
Igloo, for sure. Which is probably the easiest 13er in the state. But what about adding on Mountain Boy?
I’ve read the other trip reports. The traverse between the two peaks is iffy at best.
Photo: still cloudy and rainy when I arrived
Photo: Mountain Boy
I set out Saturday afternoon and drove to Independence Pass. It was busy as usual. Tourists and travelers stopping for the short walk to the lookout point. Rain was still falling in the surrounding area.
I waited around for a while, watching the clouds move. I got tired of the people and decided to start the hike earlier than planned. Left the parking lot at 5:50 p.m. Passed a half dozen or so people coming down from the 12er.
The trail is very easy to follow and gradual, making this an easy hike.
Photo: If I would have been smart, I would have checked the end of this snow, to the left, to find where I would climb up.
Having read the TRs, and knowing there was a chance I might come back via the Mountain Boy Park I did look over the edge a couple times to see what my options were for regaining the trail from the park. There was still a large band of snow on the northwest edge. (I should have paid better attention. No really. ) There were also two bands of snow in the Igloo & Mountain Boy saddle that I could see. So, I wasn’t too hopeful that the park return was going to happen.
Photo: From the 12er
I made the summit of the 12er in 45 minutes.
From there, I could see that the snow along the park’s northwest edge had some gaps. One looked rocky. So, I thought that option for a return was now a possibility.
Still on good trail, I made the summit of Igloo in 1:03.
There were a few spots along the trail where the drop-off to the left exposed the loose dirt and rock hiding beneath this gentle slope. I looked back and saw a couple had reached the summit of the 12er and I wondered if they would keep coming this way.
Knowing I wanted Mountain Boy, I quickly strolled over to the traverse. That looked ugly. It was loose and rocky and steep. I wanted no part of that mess. I know a few people that probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought and would have kept moving that way.
Photo: Boulder field near the summit of Igloo. There is an obvious path through it, no scrambling unless you want to.
Photo: Small saddle between the boulders and the summit.
Photo: A look over at Mtn Boy
Photo: A look down at the ridge: loose, rocky, steep, and miserable.
I on the other hand, checked the “southern” edge as one TR says. Didn’t want any part of that either. I wonder what it would have looked like from the bottom?
So how loose is it? After talking with someone, we decided it is truly as loose as most people believe the Maroon Bells are. It’s a big pile of "don’t want to do that."
Not wanting to attempt that route, that left me with one option. Go down and around.
Photo: The way down from the saddle has a faint trail. Use the large boulder as a cairn.
Photo: Looking back up toward the boulder
Photo: I started the loose traverse between the boulder and snow.
Photo: Pano image of the snow field. Probably another 80 to 100 feet to get below it.
Photo: Faint trail going up
Photo: Small snow field near 12,800. I went just above it.
Photo: Looking up toward the summit of Igloo from near 12,800.
I backtracked to the little saddle right before the summit. Below me was a large boulder, which is a great cairn if I decided to come back this way. I saw a faint trail in the talus. Goat or human?
I followed it down the loose grade. And it cliffed out. Not a large cliff, just the continued edge of the Igloo’s southern ridge. Must have been a goat trail.
But I looked around and there was a braid of trails going down again. Human trails. Seems I wasn’t the only person to follow the goats. The path went to a lower section that was passable, near 12,600. Could still see the large boulder above. From here, I could have gone down farther, below a band of snow, or above it, to begin the traverse around Igloo. I went above. I didn't want to lose any more elevation.
Immediately, I realized it was going to be a very loose side-hilling adventure on talus and scree. How loose? I really thought about this, and I think at least 15 percent of my steps resulted in rocks moving and sliding. Some spots were obviously going to move due to the steep nature of the slope. Others, well, rocks just move.
Still near 12,600, I followed another slight path to the east that just simply ended. As I moved around the slope and the views of the saddle started to appear, there was a trail that appeared above me. Moving up and toward the saddle, I followed it to about 12,800. It leveled out. From here, there were a few faint paths that led toward the saddle. Still steep and still loose.
Photo: Topo of my "down and around" option
I made the saddle at 7:30 p.m., (1:40 into the hike. The down & around, took about 30-35 minutes).
All I can say about that slope… it sucked, just like all the others like it.
But hey, the suck keeps the peak out of reach of many people. Keeping it fairly isolated even though it's next to a very popular spot.
My first thought as I reached the saddle: I don’t want to go back that way. With that, I checked out the snow conditions in the saddle. To my happy heart, there was an easy way down next to one of the snow bands. Just loose dirt. An easy scree surf down. I looked across the park and picked my exit point, a rocky area between two bands of snow. If that didn’t work, I’d have to side-hill nearly to the overlook area.
Photo: Mountain Boy Park. I went down and around the scree to the large boulders, then straight to the first gap in the snow (left side)
Photo: Igloo from the saddle
Photo: Saddle and Mtn Boy
I skirted a small bump in the ridge to reach the slope up Mountain Boy. I saw 10 goat paths to pick from. The one on the far left was the steepest and probably led to directly toward the summit. (It did, followed this down). I selected the second path, which was more gradual, but skirted the summit. I kept an eye on my GAIA phone map and the trail and finally turned left, off the trail, to reach the summit at 7:50 p.m. (2 hours into the hike).
I took off my pack and at the summit cairn. Pulled out my dinner, White Rascal and pizza, and waited for the show.
I took photos as the setting sun and moving clouds provided ever-changing lighting on the surrounding peaks. Absolutely beautiful.
Photo: I took so many photos of Grizzly... it just looked so beautiful and rugged.
Photo: Shadows creeping along the valleys
There truly is something special about being on a summit by yourself: a time of reflection and thoughts in an amazing environment.
I stayed on the summit until the sun went below a low band of clouds just above the horizon, which was about 8:25ish. Was at the saddle by 8:30.
Photo: The sunset, the reason I was here.
Photo: The Apostles had a brief moment of sunshine while most everything else was in the shade of a cloud.
Photo: The Elks
Having learned a lesson on Carbonate last weekend, (tundra is your friend, loose side-hilling is not) I decided to go through the Mountain Boy Park, because Igloo really is a dirty bitch. "Pigiitchuk igloo" means bad house. That house is crumbling down.
I looked across Mountain Boy Park and picked a route which went between three large boulders. I moved to the right side of the snow. The scree decent was quick and easy. The snow had its own little stream of water flowing down with me. My choice of route changed quickly. Instead of going straight to the boulders, I continued to follow the path of least resistance and went around a scree field to reach the boulders.
I stopped to take off my shoes to shake out the rocks from the scree surfing. I made a direct a path as possible to the rocky outcropping between the snow fields on that northwestern lip of the park. The area was wet in spots, a few small streams and boggy areas to move through. I didn’t get wet, but I’m guessing earlier in the summer it was much wetter.
Photo: Trekking poles lean against a boulder. To the right was the end of the snow and nice scree surf to the bottom.
Photo: Boulders in the center of the photo was my first destination, then straight to the snow gap. One small gully to easily deal with on the way.
Photo: Looking back up at the saddle. I came down just to the left of the snow field (closest to Igloo) and followed the little stream from the runoff.
Photo: I descended from the saddle on the left edge of the snow field / cornice that sits closest to Igloo.
At 9:00 p.m. I reached the exit point in the dark, near 12,240. Yikes.
The dry area between the snow fields would be a climb. I wasn’t expecting that. I thought about the side-hilling to the outlook area, but didn’t want to do that.
This was the crux of the night.
This is where I screwed up earlier. I really should have taken the time, in the daylight, to scout out this area. It would have been nice to know for sure that this actually was a viable option. To see what route I could climb up. This was the lesson of the day. A lesson to remember on future hikes, check out those possible return routes.
Photo: Only image I have of the climb up. It goes.
Up I went in the dark, with a headlamp to guide me. It was a gamble with no beta. But in the back of my mind, I thought it would go. Then I thought, what if it didn’t? Would I be stranded in the dark on a rocky ledge waiting for search and rescue if I couldn’t go up or down?
And just like a lot of the rock in this area, (Igloo) it was crumbly and a bit loose. I’m not a fan of exposure. But at night, you can’t see it. That didn’t help. I knew the ground was down there, somewhere and it would still hurt.
At one point, I tossed my trekking poles up to a ledge several feet above me. I hadn’t stowed them, because I didn’t realize this was going to a climb. I didn’t feel safe on the ledge taking off my pack to mess with the poles.
I’m going to say this was Class 3. There were tiny ledges. Fairly easy to find holds… if they didn’t break off. But it really felt like Class 4, which was probably just my anxiety talking in my ear. It was steep. A bit loose. I couldn’t see very far. Couldn’t see the bottom. Couldn’t really see the top. Did that rock move? Is my foot going to slip? My leg muscles began to tense. What the hell am I doing climbing an unknown route in the dark? That’s not me. I don’t do this crap.
And there I was, holding on to questionable rocks in the dark.
I got to a point where I had to make a move. I didn’t want to make that move. And as much as my brain was saying this was bad… the move went smooth and easy. Up to the next ledge. Just goes to show, that your mind doesn’t always know your body’s capabilities.
I didn’t think much about down climbing if something went wrong. Probably because I hate down climbing and didn’t want that to be an option. I’m tall, so I have a hard time seeing where my feet need to go. Freaks me out a bit. Now, remembering that situation, I ask myself about down climbing and think I could have done it if I really needed to. But would I have been able to face out? Or have to face in to move down? I think it would have been a combination of the two. Does that make it Class 4? Then again, in the light of day, this could have been Class 2 just a few feet to the right.
Another ledge up and I could see an easier hike up to my left, above the snow. I gave myself a mental fist pump for success.
I thought the climb took forever, at least 30 to 40 minutes. But it only took minutes. I’m guessing the height of the climb, based on topo lines, might have been anywhere from 40 to 60 feet. Once back on the grass and fairly level ground, I walked over and connected to the main trail where it crosses the 12,400-foot topo line at 9:15 p.m. (If you’re looking to scout the climb up, it’s just to the left of here on your hike up.)
I assume with less snow on the lip, this is probably real easy way back up to the trail.
The walk out was quick and easy. I was the only thing moving except for a few vehicles on the road. I didn’t know if should be proud of myself for climbing in the dark, or cussing at myself for making a questionable choice. Knowing what I know now, would I do it again? Maybe.
Everyone has their own levels of risk and tolerance that impacts their choices. Not sure how this experience will affect my choices later. I survived. I got some good photos of the sunset. Enjoyed solitude on mountain. It was a good evening. Now to drive to Winfield for tomorrow’s hike of Ervin and Blaurock.
Photo: A hint of light remained as I reconnected with the main trail.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
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