Peak(s):  "Citadel, The"  -  13,294 feet
Date Posted:  11/08/2020
Modified:  11/12/2020
Date Climbed:   11/07/2020
Author:  Peaks4Days
 Citadel Loveland Loop  

We did this route as a loop starting and ending at the Lift 3 parking lot of Loveland ski area. To see a map, skip down to the bottom and view the GPX. 8 miles total in about 8 hours (but with some breaks). To start, we walked about 1/2 mile on paved road, taking the underpass under I-70 to reach a dirt road that parallels the highway for a bit until reaching the Dry Gulch Trailhead.

Dirt road paralleling I-70 that goes to the Dry Gulch Trailhead.

At the trailhead, the road turns left and follows a creek up into the mountains. The road remains a 2-track 4x4 road for about another 1/4 mile before reducing down to a footpath.

The trail heading west, paralleling a creek. Citadel visible in the background.

From here, follow the trail as it parallels the creek for just under 2 miles. Some reports say that the trail is hard to follow, and I can see how it would be hard to follow in the summer, but in November, with much of the underbrush dried up, it wasn't too hard to navigate. Eventually, the path will make an apparent right turn up out of the gully to ascend the ridge separating Dry Gulch from Herman Gulch.

Ascending out of the ravine to the ridge separating Dry Gulch from Herman Gulch.

At some point, just underneath some cliffs, the trail will end and you have to navigate without it westward along the ridge. However, this shouldn't be too difficult as you're above the treeline by this point.

Continuing west along the ridge, under some cliffs, after the trail ends.

Eventually, Citadel will come into view. You'll want to keep right and aim for the right ridge.

Citadel is visible. Track right to reach the ridge on the right.

About halfway up Citadel's ridge, the path will become Class 2 as you encounter some rock.

Class 2 rock about halfway up Citadel's ridge.

Continue along the ridge. Eventually, the summit block will come into view. Citadel has two summits, an East Summit and a (barely) taller West Summit. Other reports list the East Summit as Class 4 and the West Summit as Class 3. The East Summit is the only one visible at first.

The East Summit of Citadel is visible. The West Summit is still hidden behind it.

Many people climb both summits of Citadel, however, my climbing partner and I chose to only do the slightly easier (Class 3) Western Summit due to potential ice on the East (Class 4) Summit. To do so, we hiked to close to the base of the East Summit, then skirted around to its left to reach a gully that separates the East and West Summit. This involved going across a bit of loose rock/sand at an angle - not fun, but secure enough that we never felt we'd slip off.

East summit in the foreground, West Summit behind it to the left.

After walking across the loose sand/rocks, we reached the gully between the East and West Summit. I did not like this gully. It is only Class 3, but it is steep enough that the loose sand and rocks felt uncomfortable. It was never too dangerous, but I did wonder if the Class 4 ascent up East Summit that had better rock would've been easier.

Steep, loose, sandy Class 3 gully that separates East and West summit. Turn left about 2/3 of the way up to get to West Summit.

After exiting the Class 3 gully, it is Class 2 rock until the last few rocks that make up the summit-proper. There are a few Class 3 moves with some decent exposure to get the the summit-proper.

Me looking nervous on the Citadel's West Summit.
Looking south over Dry Gulch Basin.

To get off the West Summit, we attempted to find a different route down - thereby avoiding the steep, loose Class 3 gully. We found another gully that was marginally better, but still very loose. I'll call it a steep, loose Class 2 gully.

Steep, loose Class 2 gully going down.

Our original plan was to do both Hagar Mountain and Golden Bear Peak, but since it was already 1:00 at this point and it'd get dark around 5:00, we decided to just go down to the basin and cross over into Loveland ski area. To do this, we could either walk down the ridge of Citadel or take a more direct "scree-surfing" descent down another long gully (this gully is actually a continuation of the earlier Class 3 gully). We opted to do the "scree-surfing" route.

"Scree -surfing" route down a gully into Dry Gulch Basin, then crossing the basin to reach Loveland ski area on the other side.
In the basin at the base of the gully, looking back to Citadel's summit block.

Once we descended to Dry Gulch Basin, crossing it took about one hour. Our remaining route took us over the short ridge separating Dry Gulch Basin from Loveland ski area.

Walking up the short ridge separating Dry Gulch Basin from Loveland ski area.
At the top of the Dry Gulch/Loveland ridge looking back across the basin. Much of the route is visible.

Once on the Loveland side, it was an easy walk down the ski slopes down to I-70, followed by just under a mile of walking along the highway to reach the original parking area.

On the slopes of Loveland. I-70 and Loveland Pass are visible.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

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

Nice report
11/10/2020 15:27
That was a nice report with wonderful photographs.
That is a nice area, and a great mountain to hike.
Thanks for posting this.

11/11/2020 08:53
Thanks ItIFish99. It was a great mountain. Trying to do more around there and the Gore range!

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