Peak(s):  PT 13,159  -  13,159 feet
PT 13,300 E  -  13,300 feet
Date Posted:  08/18/2020
Date Climbed:   07/19/2020
Author:  Tony1
 Columbine No-Names  

PT 13,159'
PT 13,300' E

Sunday, July 19, 2020
Trailhead: Columbine Lake 2WD

11.0 miles
~4000' total ascent

Party of 1: Tony

Columbine Lake is a mystical place flanked by a few 13ers. Two of these 13ers are unnamed and were on my personal list. These two unnamed 13ers also have the interesting situation where the higher one is unranked (via its connection to Lookout Peak).

I slept in Hotel Golf once again in a pullout just off the beginning of the Ophir Pass road and drove down to the area by the bridge over Mineral Creek in the morning, parking and leaving the car there at 6:45 am. I walked along the Ophir Pass road for a hot minute before turning right/north onto FR 820 toward the Columbine Lake trailhead.

20455_26
Crisp summer morning.

After walking about 0.8 miles, I reached the start of the Columbine Lake trail at 7:10 and hiked on up. It's damn steep below treeline, so I reached the alpine bowl meadow before I knew it. The grade doesn't relent here either. I followed the trail up and over the saddle where the view of the Mill Creek Basin opens up and a couple minutes farther where the trail begins turning back due west in its traverse across the basin's slopes.

20455_24
Breaking treeline.
20455_27
And the views open!

I started eyeing the terrain to my left (south) for an opening up to the summit of 13,159. I saw a gentle grass slope leading to a wide, shallow dirt/scree gully up to the ridge. I turned due south and up the grass at 8:30, which shortly gave way to slightly steeper hard-packed dirt and a little scree. Upward progress was easy. I encountered a pair of hikers coming down from the summit; their next objective for the day was Bridal Peak, across the basin. They did tell me that the ridge to the summit was fun and somewhat simple.

20455_25
I left the trail by this rock; PT 13,519 is in the background.
20455_23
Progress toward the ridge.

I reached the ridge at a grassy low spot and paused for a minute. The ridge westward to the summit looked simple enough. I continued on, now reaching more of the typical San Juan scree and loose rock outcroppings along the ridge. I mainly stayed on the crest, which lead to a few small leaps of faith from one protruding rock to the next. I deviated a couple times to stay slightly to the north (climber's right) of the ridge crest, but for the most part, I found the ridge to the summit to be a pretty straightforward class 2+ hike.

20455_22
The way to the summit of PT 13,159.
20455_21
Rock hopping.

Shortly after, I stepped onto the summit to admire the view at 9:00. Not wanting to roll the dice with the weather too much, I didn't stay too long, and at 9:20 re-traced my steps down the ridge. I did deviate more this time to avoid descending leaps of faith across a couple rocks, and the bypass was easy: just a few feet down to the north of the ridge crest on easy dirt and some scree. After reaching the grassy low spot, I made a beeline northward and down the same area I hiked up half an hour prior. After reaching the grass, I took a slight leftward/westward trajectory to rejoin the trail slightly west of where I left it earlier.

20455_20
Summit view from PT 13,159 looking toward Columbine Lake and Lookout Peak.
20455_19
Slightly different way back to the saddle.
20455_18
Another look back at the summit area of PT 13,159.
20455_17
A small pond on the way back to the lake trail.

Now for 13,300 E! I reached the trail at 9:40 and followed it to its end at Columbine Lake at 9:55. I knew that if I could get to the south side of the lake, there is a nice grassy, shallow gully which leads most of the way to the summit. I contoured around the east side of the lake as the terrain got progressively more scree-covered and loose.

20455_16
The east end of Columbine Lake.
20455_15
Typical San Juans sidehilling.

I made an ascending traverse above the south side of the lake across the sloped terrain covered in rocks that seemed too big to be scree but too small to be talus. It was loose but not the worst thing ever. I reached an actual talus field, which was quite stable, and used it to gain a little more elevation before returning to scree. Immediately past this area, I found a faint trail in the scree leading toward the grassy slope.

20455_14
Larger, more stable rocks to traverse up and over.
20455_13
I have found the slope.

I got to the grassy slope, and it promptly brought me up to a wide notch in the ridge just a couple hundred feet below the summit. Now it was back to loose scree. I went straight up the ridge from here and slightly around to the south (climber's right) to a broad flatter area just below the summit (back on grass for the relatively flat area).

20455_12
Looking back as I made my way up the grassy slope.
20455_11
Scree up the ridge.

I walked around this area for several minutes, looking for the best way up. I knew it shouldn't get above class 2+, but I wasn't finding an easy route. Eventually I found a weakness in the summit ridge a bit farther to the east (but not all the way east, more like the center of the ridge) and got myself up into the notch via some big, blocky boulders. Here, I had to consider again if this was a good way up. I figured it must go and I crossed to the north side of the ridge where it was more exposed and hiked/scrambled up a few rocks that were solid enough. This brought me right up to the summit plateau, so I waltzed on over to the summit cairn for my break at 10:30 (I was trying to haul a bit).

20455_10
Summit plateau and sub-plateau.
20455_09
I went up the chute to the left, crossed over to the other side, then made my way up a short scramble section to the top of the summit plateau.
20455_08
Summit!
20455_07
Columbine Lake from the summit of PT 13,300 E.
20455_06
The view toward the Ice Lakes area. Maybe it's time to get going.

Another trip report for this peak (published while I was hiking, go figure) mentions an easy gully on the east side of the summit ridge, so if I'd walked all the way across the flat area, I may have found it. That's probably the best way to go. My route wasn't so bad, though. At 10:45 I re-traced my steps back to the notch and then down the big blocks to the flat area, then across to the loose area on the ridge, and finally the wide notch.

20455_05
The "other side" from where I crossed back over to get back down to the sub-plateau.
20455_04
Junk chute! At least nothing moved.

I went back down the grass gully/slope and made the split-second decision to keep going around the west side of the lake, continuing the clockwise wander around I'd started an hour earlier. I wouldn't call it any less tedious, as I still had to find my way across ridges here and there, and deal with more elevation up-and-down. It did provide a great way to see the entire lake, though.

20455_03
The west end of Columbine Lake, with PT 13,300 E in the background.

I met up with the end of the lake trail and hauled down after a short break, reaching the car at about 1:10 pm and closing out yet another fantastic San Juan day.

20455_02
View toward treeline after leaving Mill Creek Basin.
20455_01
Green forest, "thunder in the distance" vibes.



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

Nice!
08/19/2020 12:25
Great report! It was interesting to see 13300 done from a different trailhead and different route up summit block.



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