Peak(s):  Electric Pk A  -  13,598 feet
Date Posted:  05/12/2007
Modified:  05/27/2007
Date Climbed:   08/14/2003
Author:  Martian Bachelor
 Electric Pk via Major Crk, Electric Pass, & NW ridge  

This is the Electric Peak in the north-middle part of the Sangre de Cristo Range which has a quad named after it.

I climbed it the same day there was a huge power outage on the East Coast that you likely heard about. In fact, I figure I reached the summit within a few minutes of the event. It was quite a surprise to learn all this after getting back to my car and hearing the news on the radio. Most peculiar...

My route was pretty much that which is described in the 1st edition of Garratt & Martin, except that things had changed some on the ground in the interim twenty years. County Road GG/65 led to a trailhead and parking at 8660 ft near where Garner Crk comes out of the mountains, one drainage N of Major Crk (which runs up to Electric Pass). Even the more recent and excellent map shows this incorrectly; i.e., county road #65 does not now appear to go through from road GG to road DD.

What this means is you start out climbing a couple of hundred feet up above Garner Crk to cross the ridge separating the Garner and Major Creek drainages, only to lose it all as you drop down to Major Crk at roughly the same elevation as you parked (ugh!), and above some mostly unoccupied summer cabins, which I shortcutted through the backyards and fences of on the way back in a GPS beeline to the parking area. I didn't explore, but there might be a series of roads coming in more from the S which would be better for a trailhead (i.e., near the cabins) than the way I went in.

The Major Creek Trail was not in good shape when I was there. It was so bad I lost the trail three times on the way down. The valley bottom is very thickly overgrown with chest high thickets, beaver pond bogs, and the like, so stay sharp and aim to keep the trail -- but expect to have difficulties in some places. Farther up, at the head of the drainage (about 11,300-11,400 ft), there's an avalanche debris field where the trail is again difficult to keep. If you lose it, just stay right (S) of the not very distinct drainage which comes down from Electric Pass a good distance and you'll almost certainly intercept the trail. The 12,460 pass itself is one of those deceptive ones which looks close from below but seems to take forever to actually get to.


From the pass, the route goes SSE and stays close to the range crest as it goes over a 13,220 ft flat-topped bump (pictured above) and then descends a bit to a broad, flat, indistinct saddle at 13,140 ft before the final nearly 500 ft push up Electric's NW ridge.


Electric Pk's summit block (at left) from Pt 13,220. At right in the mid-distance is Rito Alto Pk; immediately to its right at a greater distance is Crestone Pk (w/twin summits), followed by the three summits of Kit Carson Mtn. The dark mass at the edge of the photo is UN 13,490.


Electric Pk summit panorama looking NW. Electric Pass is right of center at the bottom of the picture. Cottonwood Pk is 3 2/3 mi away along the range crest, and only a few ft lower. Mt Ouray is in the distance at left.

The 1959 15' quad has Electric at 13,621 ft, while the newer 7.5' quad has it at 13,598 ft. I took two GPS measures 40 minutes apart and came up with 13,640 ft (+/- a few feet), so I'll be interested what others might come up with, as this is a larger range of elevations than is normally encountered. Maybe the 15' quad had it closer to the truth the first time...

It was a very long and tiring day: 7 1/4 hrs up to the summit, 4 1/4 hrs down, and a total elevation gain of at least 5460 ft. Whew! Talk about a workout in the wilderness. At least the weather coorperated and I was able to take more than an hour on the summit, though this just added to the nearly 13 hr, dawn-to-dusk day.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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