Peak(s):  Kendall Mtn  -  13,340 feet
Kendall BM  -  13,066 feet
Trico Pk  -  13,321 feet
Date Posted:  04/29/2008
Modified:  04/30/2008
Date Climbed:   04/26/2008
Author:  Chicago Transplant
 Spring in the San Juans  

Spring in the San Juans!

Peak List:

4/26: Kendall Benchmark (13,066') - Soft (North Ridge via Swansea Gulch)
4/26: Kendall Mountain (13,338') - 364th (West Ridge via Kendall BM)
Appx 4925' vertical and 5 1/2 miles RT

4/27: Trico Peak (13,321') - 376th (East Ridge via Red Mountain Pass)
Appx 2300' vertical and 3 1/2 miles RT

Partners: Shanahan96, Jamie Nellis, SarahT, Dominic

Part One - Planning

Jamie Nellis, Dominic and I all have April birthdays. For weeks along with Shanahan96, Jamie and Ihave been talking about where to go for a big climbing weekend in late April. One of the earlier ideas was the Sangres, and then Lake City was tossed around. Finally we started talking to Sarah and Dominic and Silverton became the base camp. Saturday we would head up the Kendalls, just southeast of town and then Sunday we were looking at a shorter route from somewhere off Red Mountain Pass. Seeing as Sarah had already climbed the peaks in that vicinity, she and Dominic would head to Engineer Mountain.

We met in Silverton late Friday evening at the Canyon View Motel. The reunion was short as we had to get up at 5am; so we quickly talked route strategy and went to bed.

Part Two - Kendall Benchmark and Mountain

5am came quickly and we assembled our gear and headed out the door. There was Kendall Benchmark, right across from our hotel, and looking very steep. Below is a picture taken later in the afternoon of Kendall from the hotel.


We drove the short distance to the base area for Kendall Mountain Ski Area, really just a local bunny hill, and parked there. Our initial thought was to head up the ridge in the trees but when we got to the top of the chairlift we decided to go around the steep dirt slope in front of us to find an easier passage onto the ridge. Instead we found Swansea Gulch: A steep narrow canyon that leads to the upper basin between Kendall Benchmark and Mountain. The canyon was snow filled and we kicked steps up as the town slowly got farther and farther below us.


There was evidence around of past wet slide activity from some of the steep rocky slopes on the sides of us and we decided this would not be our descent route. With the snow rock hard in the chilly early morning, however, we were safe. We made it up to the upper basin around 10,800' and admired the slopes above.


There was a great looking S-Gully splitting the northeast facing cliffs on Kendall Benchmark, maybe a good one for couloir season? Perhaps, although it did have some cornices above. We opted for the moderate snow slope to our right; the snow was well enough consolidated for a safe ascent, but not too hard to require crampons.


We crested onto the north ridge at around 11,600' and started to make our way up towards the summit. The ridge was a mix of snow, semi-stable talus, and some steeper talus with a little easy scrambling.


All the while Silverton just kept getting farther and farther below us.


Soon we decided the snowshoes, which had not yet been used, were going to be useless weight and we stashed them behind some rocks. We kept ascending the snowy talus slopes and soon were nearing the top.


The slopes rounded as we reached the first summit, a false summit just below the high point with radio towers on it.


We made the short traverse over to the Benchmark and took a break admiring the impressive views. There is virtually no obstruction from Kendall to the Needles and Grenadiers; Pigeon and Vestal were the stars. I decided that I really like the zoom feature on my camera...





After our break it was time to move on, so far we had climbed about 1.85 miles and ascended 3700'; did I mention this is a steep route? Silverton was way down there


Now it was time to descend and work our way over to the taller Kendall Mountain. We descended a mix of snow and talus to a notch in the ridge. Right at this notch was a fun downclimb with some light scrambling.


It sure felt like more than 300', but "officially" Kendall Benchmark is considered a "soft" summit with only 286' of prominence. Sarah's GPS said 12,740' for the saddle; that would make it 326' of prominence. She would recheck the numbers on the return trip and come up with the same; it could very well be that this is indeed a ranked summit! This was a nice little discovery.

Route to Kendall Mountain from descent:


We ascended over a couple of bumps in the ridge and then started up the steep and sometimes loose talus and scree to Kendall Mountain's summit.


We summit the western summit first and thought the eastern one looked taller so headed that way as well. The map marks the western summit as the higher one, however. The traverse was about a mile and gained about 750' with the bumps in the ridge. We again enjoyed the views into the needles, now Jagged had come out from behind Vestal. The breeze was getting to us and we decided to start the vertically intensive descent.

Visible from L to R include the Trinities, Jagged, Vestal, Windom, Sunlight, Arrow, Eolus:


We first had to reclimb Kendall Benchmark, about 475' of extra elevation, before we could make the descent. First we stuck to our ascent route but when we returned to the top of the snow slope opted instead to descend in the trees remembering the evidence of past slides in Swansea Gulch and wanting to stay away from them. The snow was still firm, and the snowshoes never came off the pack. The route finding back down was not too difficult, but some small gullies branched off the ridge occasionally into Swansea Gulch and we had to keep traversing to our left periodically to stay on route. We made it back out of the trees right at the top of the lift, perfect!

It was then on to dinner at the only open restaurant in town, The Pickel Barrel, and back to the hotel for a night of rest before tomorrow's adventure.

Part Three - Trico Peak

It was another 5am wake up call, this time we headed in different directions as the Jamies and I went north towards Red Mountain Pass and Sarah and Dominic headed south for Engineer Mountain. We arrived at the pass and started our ascent just as the sun was starting to warm the upper ridge.


The lower slopes were an interesting mix of rolling benches that lead us to tree line. From here the ridge becomes fairly grassy, at least based on the patches of dry slopes we found mixed in with the snow. The sequence was to climb a couple hundred feet, then traverse a flat, climb and traverse etc. This made short work of the lower mountain.


The views continued to impress as we got higher and higher and slowly new peaks would appear. We would call out, "I can see Coxcomb", or "Oh, there is Half!" as we worked our way up. There were a few more flat benches and soon the ridge was cresting on a 12,800' plateau. Before us was a steep rib that would get us to the catwalk.
This was the most interesting part of the climb, a delightfully exposed crest of snow and rock. In summer there may be some 3rd class involved, but any potential scrambling was just snow for us this day. The catwalk started fairly flat but started to slope up to the summit at the far end.



From the summit we were able to touch three counties (hence "Trico Peak"), San Juan, Ouray and San Miguel. The route was about 2300' and 1.75 miles from car to summit.

The views of Sneffels, Dallas, Teakettle and Potosi are amazing. In fact this and the Kendalls afforded us some of the best views of some of the hardest San Juan high peaks. Both trips are highly recommended if you want to admire these challenging beauties from afar!

Dallas and Sneffels in the distance:


We signed the register, which included Sarah's name from last summer as well as a few other 13er aficionados from this site before a short break. We then descended towards the south and glissaded back down into Mineral Basin. From here we loosely followed the snow covered Black Bear road back to the lower parts of the ascent ridge. We found a few more nice glissades on softening snow through our earlier benches and arrived at the car by noon. From there it was a quick drive back to Denny's in Montrose for a late breakfast and to meet back up with Sarah and Dominic.

This was a great weekend in the San Juans with great partners. These peaks may not be climbed by as many people as the higher summits but are well worth it! Get out there and enjoy!

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

 Comments or Questions
Steve Knapp

04/29/2008 15:38
Looks like a really nice outing for you guys. Tons of snow around, of course. I‘ll bet you were wishing for your skis at times! Nice pics of the Needle Range. That‘s the first shot I‘ve seen of Jagged this year, I‘ll be there in July for #100.


great day
04/29/2008 19:11
to be in the San Juans. Great shots of the Needles and Grenadiers, its going to be a fun summer. That sure looks like a steep climb, like a Sawatch in terms of the ratio between RT mileage and vertical gain. You are right, you get great views of a ton of sweet climbs.

Hopefully the Gores will be good to go soon.

great birthday weekend for you two!
04/29/2008 20:06
and what a fine way to spend it! i had a blast climbing with everybody once again and can‘t wait for the next time. nice report mike, i enjoyed it.

the real question is who wants to go poking around the northern grenadiers this time next year! just a thought to ponder....


3 birthdays actually....
04/30/2008 00:02
Dominic‘s was earlier in April.


Happy Birthday folks...
04/30/2008 03:38
Looks like a great day out. I should like to sign up for one of your trips one of these days.

Chicago Transplant

04/30/2008 15:51
Jamie- I updated the intro to include Dominic‘s BD, I didn‘t know April was such a good month
Prakesh- Absolutely, I am sure there will be plenty of opporunities this summer!

I got pickled!
11/30/2010 17:28
Great TR, Mike. Thanks for writing this up! Sarah, thanks so much for taking care of the room & driving that long way. It's always such fun to climb with you all! Looking forward to hitting up some couloirs soon!

Chicago Transplant

11/30/2010 17:28
Sarah- nice pics! especially the silhoutte of Dominic on the ridge. Glad to see you back on the 13ers
Steve- Yep, I kept scoping ski lines all day, I want to go back and ski T10 and 13510B from Red Mtn Pass
Jamie- Won't take much to twist my arm on couloirs! Ditto the thanks to Sarah for setting up the hotel.
Brian- Definitely will be a great summer, that is the best view of the Needles I have had to date, looking forward to that trip!
Jamie- It was a great way to celebrate the April birthdays! This was just the beginning of a long climbing season my friend


11/30/2010 17:28
I didn't know you and Jamie had April birthday's - when? Mine was the 29th! I also have never heard of Kendall Mtn. ski area! I love the photo of the Chicago Basin peaks. Great trip report as always Mike!


It was great to be back in the SJs!
02/05/2011 00:22
Nice TR Mike, it was a pleasure hiking with you again. Here are my pictures from Saturday:

Heading to Trico
02/16/2020 16:37
I was looking at doing Trico this weekend. It looks like you went straight up the eastern ridge to the summit. Is that right?

   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.