Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,196 feet
Date Posted:  09/01/2020
Date Climbed:   08/23/2020
Author:  mkdenver1
 Beautiful, yet smoky, day on Yale   

My wife and I did our annual climb and Yale was our choice this year based on comparisons right here on

It was right at the peak of the numerous wildfires happening not only in Colorado, but all over the west. Smoke was definitely present over the whole region including Denver. But, we decided to make a go of it anyway and make the one-night stay in Buena Vista worth it.

We stayed Saturday night at Super 8 in BV. Man what a dump this place is. I would have loved to stay just up the road at Best Western, but they require a 2-night minimum stay.

We arrived at Denny Creek Trailhead and started the hike at 6:30am:

My wife, Christine, with the trailhead sign.

The 4,300+ elevation changed intimidated us a bit, but we knew what we were getting in to.

Several beautiful streams pass through the lower portions of the hike. The trail crosses these streams at least 4-5 times.

The views are spectacular above timberline. But on this day, the smoke was the buzz-kill both on the views and on our bodies. Still got some great shots

Looking west into the smoky skies



The sun peeking around the summit of Yale. This is on the ascent of the shoulder to the saddle. Very steep portion.

We saw many pikas in this area. Here is one to the right of center. They're quick and very skittish!

The start of the Class 3 climb and pitch to the summit. The description definitely doesn't lie; it is very rocky and slow going from this point to the summit! Extreme caution is strongly advised as these rocks, while mostly stable, are "square-shaped" and have slippery sides and sharp corners.

We summitted at 10:30am! Definitely not the clearest of summit pics, but not bad. Harvard and Columbia are in the background.

We struggled our way to the summit and stayed for about 20 minutes. Normally we do just fine at this elevation, but the smoke really caused us to struggle in the steeper portions. My wife brought some boost oxygen and she said that really helped especially on the shoulder and in the boulder field to the summit.

We started our descent around 10:50am. On the way back down, we saw a marmot perched on a distant boulder:

Marmot perched on a distant boulder

Wildflowers are still in bloom. Didn't see any Columbines, but saw many of these purple ones.

We arrived back at the trailhead at 2:45pm so it was another 4 hours back down.

Wow, what a climb! We only do 1-2 hikes per year and this one was among our most difficult and we did summit Belford a couple years ago.

Hope you enjoyed and thanks for reading!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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