Peak(s):  Jackson, Mt  -  13,670 feet
PT 13,433  -  13,433 feet
Date Posted:  10/20/2020
Date Climbed:   10/14/2020
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Cross Creek  

Mt Jackson – 13,670 & UN 13433


RT Length: 28.33 Miles

Elevation Gain: 6674’

I’m not entirely sure why I chose this approach, but I wouldn’t recommend it; the route finding below treeline is arduous. In any event, if you still want to do this hike, this is how I climbed Mt Jackson and 13433.

I arrived at the Cross Creek Trailhead and was the only vehicle in the lot. It’s a poorly designed lot that doesn’t offer much room but can fit 5-6 cars if everyone parks nicely. It looks more like a horse corral than a parking lot, and there’s not a lot of room to turn a vehicle around. There is parking across the way as well. I arrived and left in the dark, so unfortunately, no pictures of the trailhead. I was on the trail at 3:45am. Cross Creek trail starts behind obvious signage at the west end of the parking area.


This is an easy to follow class 1 trail. There’s a new bridge to cross over Cross Creek, and some nice stairs to ascend.


After hiking for 3 miles I came across some avalanche debris on the trail. As I was navigating at night I stepped over a log, and instead of hitting solid ground my right foot sank in watery mud up to my thigh.


I quickly extricated myself and did a quick assessment. My shoe and pants were soaking wet, cold, and covered in a layer of mud. It was only around 5am, 30 degrees outside, and I had a serious decision to make. Did I turn around now or continue hiking? I was worried I’d eventually have a Raynaud’s attack, especially if I didn’t dry out before making it to treeline (where it would be windy: I could already hear trees snapping all around me in the dark). I cursed myself for not bringing at least an extra pair of socks. In the end I decided the only way to dry off would be to keep moving, and I could do that either by heading back or forwards, so I continued on. I followed this class 1 trail for a total of about 8.5 miles as it paralleled Cross Creek, staying straight at the Grouse Mountain Trail Junction (but noting where it was in case I wanted to make this a loop).


After hiking for 8.5 miles I crossed a stream and the real route finding began


After crossing the stream, I turned right and headed straight up the mountainside, passing a small pond to my left. There is no trail here, and the bushwhacking is intense. I passed several sets of bear tracks while route finding here.




I’d gained 800’ of elevation in 1 mile heading northwest when I came upon a trail! Woot! This was a pleasant surprise. It looked like a game trail, but every now and then I’d see a cairn.


I followed this trail southwest for just over half a mile, until it suddenly ended.


There was a cairn here, but it didn’t seem to lead anywhere. I went about 20 yards in every pertinent direction and couldn’t locate a trail. The snow on the ground wasn’t helping. I got out my map and realized I’d gone too far south, so I turned right and headed north up this drainage.


At the top of the drainage I headed west. You can see how much fun route finding was here as well. I kept wishing for treeline so I’d have a visual of my route. On a positive note, my shoes and pants had dried out, so while I was still dirty, at least I was dry.


I also passed more bear tracks here. These tracks had a different gait than the ones I’d encountered before, so I figured there were multiple bears in the area.


Hiking west eventually led me to a marshy area, and here I was finally able to get a good view of where I was headed


I skirted the marshy area to the south and then headed southwest. It’s important to head up over the rocky area and not stay low because going low will lead you to a large rock wall bordering a pond with no way to cross. Here’s an overall view of the route


And step by step up the (first) gully


And second and third gullies. This was really just one long gully that leveled out at times and started again. The snow was bothersome because it was sugary and every once in a while, I’d posthole. It did make me roll my eyes at being worried my feet would be wet from the swampy water: the snow had made sure of it.


At the top of this long gully I continued southwest


Until I hit another (you guessed it) gully. It was here the battery in my camera died and I had to switch to using my cellphone (I’m still figuring out my new camera, and the battery seemed to die rather quickly).


Here I got my first good look at the upper basin. There are several routes I could have taken from here. I’d heard there was a path up the north side of 13433, but I wanted to gain the saddle between UN 13433 and Mt Jackson. I figured my best shot for today would be to stay high and hugging the south side of Mt Jackson. Here’s my overall route


And step by step.



The ground here was surprisingly stable, I just had to watch out for rolling rocks every now and then


Here’s how I gained the saddle


Up until this point I wasn’t sure which peak I was going to climb first. I had the possibility of making this a loop (coming back down via the Grouse Mountain trail), but once I got to the ridge I was able to feel the wind I’d been hearing all morning. Winds were predicted at 20-25mph, sustained, with 45mph gusts. They were at least that. And brutally cold. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make one mountain today, let alone three. I got out my balaclava and heavy-duty winter gloves, turned right, and headed north to the summit of Mt Jackson. This was a fairly easy ridge hike.



I summited Mt Jackson at noon. The summit was relatively flat.


Mt Jackson:

The wind was blowing so hard all the straps on my gear were slapping me in the face and several times I had snot fly into my sunglasses. Ah, to be a mountaineer! I turned and headed back the way I came, bracing myself against the wind as I made my way towards the Mt Jackson/13433 saddle.


From the saddle here’s looking back at Mt Jackson and up at 13433


It was a short and simple ridge hike to the summit of 13433. I summited at 1pm.


UN 13433:

Here’s a view of Mt Jackson from 13433


At this point I couldn’t feel my fingers, so I quickly retraced my steps back to the saddle. The wind refused to let up, and was blowing loudly long after I left the ridge. I saw two crows playing with the currents above the saddle.


Here’s my route back down into the basin



And down the gullies



Here’s how I ascended the rock to avoid the pond to my left


And headed back out of the marshy area



Let the route finding begin again. I tried to re-trace my steps, but it just wasn’t happening. I kept looking for my original route in, but finally realized that wasn’t going to happen. I knew Cross Creek Trail was below me, and as long as I headed down and east I’d eventually run into it. So I headed east.



After wandering down and east and down and east I connected up with Cross Creek Trail and followed it back to the trailhead. I heard trees snapping in the wind the entire hike back. They’d make a loud, booming sound I initially thought was rockfall, except there were no reverberations from rockslides, just a loud crack and boom!



I got back to my truck at 8pm, making this a 28.33 mile hike with 6674’ of elevation gain in 16 hours, 15 minutes.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46

 Comments or Questions

10/21/2020 07:42
I found that basin to be pretty unique, and I'm quite glad I spent some time up there. But I feel "arduous" is too generous a descriptor for that bushwhack. 2,000 solid feet of elevation of constant, steep, thick bushwhacking. Props to you for doing this in a single day, I was destroyed after the ~10-mile RT from camp.

I'm curious, have you done any other routes that have had a worse bushwhack than Jackson, or does this one take the cake? Certainly the worst I've done.


10/21/2020 08:24
This was definitely one of the worst as far as 13ers go, mainly because it lasted for so long and without a clear visual I was always wondering if I was in the best place at the time, but close contenders are Rinker Peak's east ridge, 13626 from Grouse Canyon (I got 3 ticks on that one), heading down from "Campbell Creek Peak", and heading down from Ervin Peak. Great job getting this route done!


10/21/2020 15:26
You too! Are you done for the season? Your TR for Quarter seems to imply that'll be the last bi for the season, but only five to go! I'd bet you're getting just a tad bit tired of the drive all the way to the San Juans every weekend though.


Nope :)
10/21/2020 15:57
I'm never done hiking, I just switch my plans Luckily, I LOVE to drive, so while it's a trek to the San Juans I don't mind too much. I'm headed to Las Vegas this weekend to celebrate my 40th birthday, and when I get back the weather will be much colder. That's when I'll switch to hiking and repeating 14ers/13ers with friends or State/County Highpointing. I'd love to finish my last 5 bicentennials this year, but they're all a ways into the backcountry and I'm afraid it'll be too cold for my body to handle backpacking, so they'll need to wait until the mountains thaw out from snow next year. Until then, I'll be working on tricentennials.


10/21/2020 16:06
My question was poorly worded. One never "finishes" in this hobby!

   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.