Peak(s):  Little Giant Pk  -  13,416 feet
King Solomon Mtn  -  13,220 feet
Date Posted:  02/18/2021
Date Climbed:   08/25/2020
Author:  supranihilest
 Little Giants of the San Juan  

I wanted to do something the day before I headed to Albuquerque, New Mexico for a short trip, and being in Silverton there were many options. I was still pretty beat up from a big backpack just several days before, so I settled on something short and easy, doing Little Giant Peak and King Solomon Mountain one afternoon after work. I parked at the corner of a sharp switchback (37.81748, -107.61714) on San Juan County Road 52 and continued from there on foot up into Little Giant Basin. The road to this point was 2WD and really didn't get much rougher, but I wanted a little extra warmup today and the road would would work fine for that purpose. I continued up into Little Giant Basin and got my first views of the peaks as I slowly gained elevation on the road.

20888_01
King Solomon Mountain and Little Giant Peak.

The road continued up past some old mine relics and to a pretty little lake in the middle of the basin.

20888_02
Little Giant Basin.

At this point the road ended. I continued up the basin on tundra and then onto talus, which was very loose. I didn't know this until the descent, but there was an old mining trail that leaves the road at the southern end of the first small lake, and extends across the slope, eliminating the need for route finding or hiking on tedious talus. I aimed for the saddle between the two peaks.

20888_03
Generally open slopes below King Solomon Mountain. There was a small amount of route finding trying to stay on the easiest terrain.
20888_04
Nasty, sharp, loose talus below King Solomon.

The last part to the saddle was steep and loose, requiring some care and balance. There was no scrambling required to reach the saddle, which was good owing to the extremely rotten nature of the rock.

20888_05
Cruddy but almost there!
20888_06
A bit of sliding around but not quite as bad as it looks.
20888_07
Colorful spires along the ridge, plus evidence of humans

Once I reached the saddle a trail appeared, both wrapping around Little Giant's south side and King Solomon's west and southwest sides. This was the trail I mentioned earlier, from the lower lake. I had blown past it on my ascent but it is much nicer and easier than the way I went, so if you climb these peaks make sure you find the trail instead.

20888_08
Trail across the saddle and around the backside of Little Giant's false summit.
20888_09
Trail along King Solomon.

I took the trail around Little Giant's backside, then left it and ascended up the false summit. The rock here deteriorated significantly, and the remaining hike up Little Giant was a mix of Class 2 and Class 2+ with the occasional Class 3 move thrown in. The rock was poor but nothing was particularly hard and there were many options.

20888_10
From the vicinity of the false summit, showing the ridge up Little Giant proper.
20888_11
A ledge I traversed around Little Giant's backside.
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Dirt gully up to the ridge. There were several sections like this with a few hands-on moves for good measure.
20888_13
Final ascent up Little Giant.

It was officially the Golden Hour, and the views from this small peak were impressive. Little Giant, indeed.

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King Solomon Mountain in evening light.
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Sprinkles southwest towards Silver Lake and the Kendall massif.
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Weminuche and Vestal Basin.

I took the views in for only a moment before heading back down, thinking it would take me some extra time to get off of Little Giant. Instead I found an easy gully down to below the scrambling, and then simply traversed back over to the trail and the saddle.

20888_18
Descent down Little Giant that, while loose, avoided the scrambling.
20888_19
King Solomon Mountain looking regal.

I crossed the saddle and went around a small rock bump on the south side. There didn't appear to be a pure walking option to get up King Solomon from where I was, so I scrambled up a short, loose gully at Class 2+ to the summit ridge.

20888_20
Gully that I went up.
20888_21
Summit ridge. Kind of narrow but not difficult in any way.

King Solomon turned out to be a rather easy peak, and since I was tired from the last week and then some of activity I chose to catch my breath on its summit before turning back down the summit ridge and descending an easier gully to the north.

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Descent gully off the summit ridge.

I aimed for the trail that cut across King Solomon's west slopes, knowing it was my quickest route back to the van.

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Gross but easy terrain to the trail.

As I descended several coyotes began howling in the basin. I couldn't tell where they were, but it sounded like there were at least four based on their timing and direction the howls came from. I texted Whiley to keep an eye on my inReach map in case they decided I'd make a tasty snack, and began running down the trail to beat the darkness and their hunger.

20888_24
Trail back down past the upper lakes.
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Howling the day's closure.

I never did spot any of the coyotes, but they continued howling at least until I was on the road, which I made quick time of. The last vestiges of light were fading when I got back to the van, and I drove to Durango for the night before heading to Albuquerque the next day to have some repairs made on the van. There are little giants everywhere in the San Juan, one need only discover them for themselves.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Trailhead: Little Giant Basin (San Juan County Road 52 (37.81748, -107.61714))
Total distance: 8.02 miles
Total elevation gain: 3,616 feet
Total time: 3:38:07
Peaks: One ranked thirteener, one unranked thirteener

  • Little Giant Peak, 13,416'
  • King Solomon Mountain, 13,220' (unranked)

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
CR-52 Little Giant Peak 2:07:29 2:07:29 0:00
Little Giant Peak King Solomon Mountain 0:31:28 2:38:57 6:40
King Solomon Mountain CR-52 0:52:31 3:38:07 Trip End

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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25


 Comments or Questions
Sbenfield

Sweet
02/18/2021 17:41
I love reading your reports, especially the ones in the San Juans. I‘m really looking forward to summer to visit some of these peaks myself


d_baker

I should do these
02/18/2021 20:53
Looks like a good outing, Ben!
Nice shots, and good to know about the miner trail at end of road


Bombay2Boulder

Beautiful Report
02/18/2021 21:35
Great report Ben. Such awesome summits, I did these around sunset time too however from Cunningham basin side, pretty much a trail all the way on that side and was very happy with the views. Side note- Not sure if you noticed, but King Solomon is marked "wrong" on the inreach map/caltopo, the summit is marked as the farthest one on the long ridge on your pic#20. I definitely was not thrilled when I saw that on the hike and did not go all the way out, but upon reading other trip reports, it seems the consensus is that the true summit is indeed the one you and I and others did. Amazing area, I will have to go back and try these summits from this route, especially for wildflower season.


Tornadoman

I like it
02/19/2021 09:40
Great views/lighting. I'd add them to my short list, but my short list is already too long....


supranihilest

Nice peaks
02/19/2021 11:02
@Steve: Thanks man! I've got a handful of additional San Juan reports to finish up, so keep an eye out for those. Looking forward to seeing your progress this year!

@Darin: These aren't the most exciting peaks in the world, but there's something quite nice about just having a simple day. These fit that criteria quite well!

@Yusuf: I haven't been over to Cunningham Basin but I see there's some unranked peaks there that I need to go get! The maps are indeed misleading about King Solomon. The southern summit is higher, and has a closed contour higher than the 13,185 spot elevation to the north. If I remember correctly it was visually obvious from the southern point that it was higher, even though they're quite distant, but I just went with the Lists of John waypoint for King Solomon anyway. The wildflowers in Little Giant Basin are probably amazing, can't wait to see the pics!

@Andrew: I definitely got lucky with the lighting on this one! It really made these simple peaks magical. There's no such thing as a "short" list for a peakbagger, they're all as long as the mountains are tall!


CaptainSuburbia


Added to my list
02/19/2021 11:20
Nice report as always! I will have to visit these.


Will_E

Lake shot
02/19/2021 12:18
That first lake shot is fantastic!

What‘s the white thing sticking up on photo 7?


supranihilest

Giants
02/19/2021 13:14
@Judd: Thanks man, these are great peaks. Sonia and Leo would enjoy these as well.

@Will: It's a wooden post! I'm not sure what it's marking, but here's a cropped shot of that photo.


Jay521

What T-man said...
02/20/2021 10:20
Very, very nice report and they will go on my list also. I'm gonna have to live to 100 to complete that list!


supranihilest

The T-Man
02/20/2021 11:10
Thanks Jay. We're all going to have to live forever at this rate! The lists never seem to actually get shorter, somehow.



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