Peak(s):  PT 13,768  -  13,768 feet
Whitney Pk  -  13,276 feet
Date Posted:  07/26/2020
Date Climbed:   07/17/2020
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Keep 'er Movin'  

Thursday, July 16, 2020. After a couple of successful days in the Sangre de Cristos in June, I took a break from climbing. This was not my choice but instead was due to an unexpected injury at home. After four weeks, I wasn't completely healed but felt a need to, in the words of the great philosopher Charlie Behrens, "keep 'er movin'" because physical activity seemed to help.

Over the years, I've climbed at least one 13er or 14er on every day of July and August, with one exception: July 17. Happily, I would get a chance to correct this oversight tomorrow.

Randy and I set our sights on Unnamed 13768 and Whitney Peak (13,276') in the Holy Cross Wilderness. We drove north of Leadville on U.S. 24 to about 3 miles south of Red Cliff, where we headed southwest on Forest Road (FR) 703 along Homestake Creek and then west on FR 704 and north on FR 727 to where this road intersects the jeep road to Holy Cross City at about 10,280'. There were plenty of campsites available in this area.

Friday, July 17, 2020. The road to Holy Cross City is one of the roughest jeep roads in Colorado, and a sign menacingly warned "vehicle body/mechanical damage likely." We were glad to be hiking the road instead of driving it.

The sign says to drive or tow your vehicle out of the creek if you can't get across in three tries. No problem for those of us on foot, though.

Near 11,160', the Fall Creek Trail leaves the road to Holy Cross City and heads west and then northwest past scenic Hunky Dory Lake.

Looking northwest from about 11,200' along the Fall Creek Trail

An artifact of some kind near 11,200' along the Fall Creek Trail

Hunky Dory Lake with UN 13768 in the background

The remains of an old wagon along the Fall Creek Trail

Another artifact from the mining days

Whitney Peak from the Fall Creek Trail

We continued hiking along the Fall Creek Trail until we passed between two lakes at 12,160'. Here, we left the trail and headed northwest until we reached another lake at 12,750'.

Point 13618 and UN 13768 from about 12,120' near where we left the Fall Creek Trail

UN 13768 from near the lake at 12,750'; the summit of UN 13768 is just left of center, with a snowy ridge leading to it

We stayed south of the lake at 12,750' until we could climb almost directly toward the summit of UN 13768. Had there been less snow along the south ridge of UN 13768, we might have headed to the 13,420' saddle between Point 13618 and UN 13768 and then followed the ridge to the summit. Today, however, we didn't want to deal with corniced snow when we could bypass it.

It was a straightforward climb to the ridge just south of UN 13768's summit, and from there it was an easy scramble to the top.

Looking east from the summit of UN 13768, with Tuhare Lakes visible at left and Whitney Peak at far right

Whitney Peak (just left of center) as seen from UN 13768

A closer look at Whitney Peak

From the summit of UN 13768, Mount of the Holy Cross peeks above Holy Cross Ridge, with Tuhare Lakes to the right

We descended to the lake at 12,750' and, from its east end, did a descending contour to Fall Creek Pass. before heading up the easy ridge toward Whitney Peak. A rain shower just above the pass resulted in us questioning whether to descend the Fall Creek Trail or continue to Whitney Peak. We're glad we continued to Whitney Peak because the summit is one of the more unusual ones we've encountered.

Looking back at the slabby contour we used to get from the lake at 12,750' to Fall Creek Pass

The topo map indicates Whitney Peak's summit is at the west end of a large flat summit area. Actually, the true summit is a boulder at the east end of the summit area.

From the west end of Whitney Peak's summit area, the boulder that is its true summit can be seen about 1/4 mile to the east

UN 13768, Holy Cross Ridge, and Mount of the Holy Cross from Whitney Peak

On top of Whitney Peak's summit boulder, Randy used an infrared remote to trigger the shutter on his camera

We signed the summit register that someone left earlier today and descended south and southeast. Once we returned to the road to Holy Cross City, it was an easy hike back to our campsite.

As soon as we had signal on the drive home. we called High Mountain Pies in Leadville to order a pizza. What? At least a one-hour wait? Okay, we'll have to try again on another trip. Other than that, it was still a successful trip to a beautiful area.

Photo credit: All photos by Randy Mack

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

07/27/2020 12:56
Looks like a good combo. 13,768 has been on my list for a while, and Whitney's boulder is also enticing.


07/27/2020 15:09
Amazing how much snow melted in that 12,750 lake in 6 days! A fun duo for sure! Great TR as usual Eddie.

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