Peak(s):  Bull Hill A  -  13,761 feet
Date Posted:  11/26/2007
Date Climbed:   11/24/2007
Author:  Chicago Transplant
 Burnin‘ off the Turkey  

Bull Hill A (13,761') - 122nd highest
Southeast Ridge via Black Cloud Trail
Approximately 7 1/2 miles RT and 4061' Vertical

Well it has become my post-Thanksgiving tradition to go out and get a peak to burn off the turkey calories. Past outings have included Cupid/Grizzly and Bard/Parnassus. I decided to head to the Sawatch this year and decided to head up Bull Hill A near Twin Lakes.

This was the last bi-centennial that I have in Lake County, and would also close out the Lake County highest 20. With Elbert nearby there was even an outside chance of combining an outing with a fourteener, something I have never climbed in November. With year round access to the trailhead the plan was set!

It was -3 in Avon on Saturday morning, that's Fahrenheit folks, so I lolly-gagged through breakfast and got a late start to give the sun a chance to warm things up on the trail. The drive down went smoothly, although the trailhead is not well marked. There is a sign, its just right at the parking area so it's easy to blow by at 45 mph. The entire trail was covered with the light snow of the night before, about 2-3 inches. It was easy to follow though and although the trail is steep, it's a great trail and would be an excellent alternative to the crowded east side of Mt Elbert.

After a stream crossing at 10,800' there is a faint trail that leads to the southeast ridge of Bull Hill but I decided to go higher in the basin and either gain the ridge or climb the east face so as not to deal with the snowy faint trail in the trees. There was a second stream crossing at around 11,200' and here the views to the south and ahead of "South Elbert" really started to open up


A little farther and a clearing on the southeast ridge of Bull Hill presented itself, there were some willows around the stream (which I had to re-cross to get to the ridge) but there was a nice weakness through them that provided smooth passage.


I worked my way up the clearing and onto the ridge crest where I finally got a view of Bull Hill through the trees.


As I got higher on the ridge it became more defined and the views of La Plata were really impressive. Ellingwood Ridge was the headline grabber from this view, and with an old mining cabin below created a nice scene


Around 12,300' the ridge reached a large relatively flat section just above treeline that was a perfect spot for a break and had a great view of the remaining route to the summit. The whole route thus far, and moving forward, was covered in the same 2-3 inches of snow, but there was hardly any "old snow" beneath. No postholing, but the gaitors were on just to make sure I didn't get anything down my boots.


I continued across this flat grassy section to some talus along the ridge crest. Here just below a steeper section of the ridge the trail joined me and traversed across this crest. I instead took the ridge head on and continued on to the gentler upper slopes. One final moderate talus section and I was on the summit.


I was on the summit around 12.30 and it was mighty cold with the light winds. My hands and feet were feeling the cold sitting around the summit and I decided that Elbert, which was a mile and a half and over 1100' of rise from the saddle, was not in the cards for today. It was too cold to not get credit for a winter ascent anyway...



Casco and French:

I descended to a calmer spot on the ridge and had a snack break before hiking back down my route and out. I decided against trying to follow the trail seeing as had no footprints to lead me back to the main trail. Parts of the south facing slopes and parts of the lower trail melted out a bit from the sunshine, some even back to bare earth. It was a good day to be in the mountains despite the cold. It was a very clear day and the views of the surrounding peaks were spectacular. I decided one thing was for sure, "Hill" is a mis-nomer.

Rinker from the descent

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

 Comments or Questions

11/27/2007 02:49
I‘ve always enjoyed the views of La Plata from that area. What a nice day!


What a difference
11/27/2007 18:52
between this year and last year. I climbed Bull Hill via the same route on Sept. 24, 2006 and actually used snowshoes up high. This year, 2 months later, no snowshoes required!

Chicago Transplant

11/27/2007 19:10
Bill - Yeah, that is a nice area, I‘ll have to come back there to go for Elbert/South Elbert sometime

Sarah - I know what you mean! That was the day I climbed Dyer last year and was postholing up to mid-thigh in spots. Its amazing how much drier this fall has been!

Steve Knapp

Nice work
11/27/2007 20:24
Mike, way to burn off the calories! The cold helps burn more calories as well. Bull Hill is a steep grunt for sure. I‘m looking forward to that powder day at the Beav with you, if it ever snows.

Nice report!
11/29/2007 00:34
Too bad there wasn‘t enough snow for a good ski day.
If it stays this dry maybe we‘ll get to keep our hiking partner for a while longer?!?!?

Good Job Mike!
11/29/2007 00:34
You get them man! Go Bears!

Chicago Transplant

11/29/2007 01:38
Steve- You‘re on! It snowed today and is supposed to snow a good part of the weekend too, so hopefully things will turn around

Mark- Definitely a beautiful day to be out, I was surprised how weak the storm was too.

Jamie- We‘ll see, the snows are starting to arrive but you can count on me for at least one outing a month, gotta keep the summit streak alive!

Crestone- I think we are the only ones on this site that thought the last 5 minutes of the Bears-Broncos game was the best part


08/28/2008 00:37
Thought that last storm would have brought more snow than that. Nice pics, great condition update Looked like a beautiful day to be out!

   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.