Pacific Peak
East Ridge
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 Easy Class 3 
Risk Factors:
Rockfall Potential: Moderate  
Trailhead:McCullough Gulch N
Start:11,050 feet
Summit:13,950 feet
Total Gain:3,500 feet
RT Length:7.0 miles
Last Updated:1/2014


From Breckenridge, drive 8 miles south on Colorado 9. Turn right (west) on the Blue Lakes 850 Road. Drive a few hundred yards and turn right on the McCullough Gulch (851) Road. Drive approx. 1.6 miles to reach a junction. The main McCullough Gulch TH is a short distance ahead but you want to turn right and drive 0.8 mile to reach the "North" McCullough Gulch trailhead, near 11,050'.


This route does not have a trail and the beginning requires a bit of steep bushwhacking. Study topo maps, bring a good headlamp and start early. From the unmarked trailhead (#1), pick a line between the cliffs along the road and climb north through dense aspen trees (#2) until you reach a small clearing, above 11,200'. If you don't find a clearing near this elevation, continue north until you finally pop out of the trees. Once you leave the dense trees, angle northwest to reach large clearings, near 11,400' and continue northwest to reach tree line, near 11,600' - #3. Now on the defined ridge, hike west then northwest (#3, #4 and #5) to reach 13,000', where the ridge narrows - #6 and #7.

Next up, 1.25 miles of Difficult Class 2 and Easy Class 3 terrain along a beautiful ridge. There are even some Class 3 options if you want to make the route more challenging. Continue along the narrowing ridge to reach Point 13,238', the first major point on the ridge - #8 and #9. From this point, the views are spectacular - #10. Continue toward another, more-rugged point - #11 and #12. Climb on or just left of the ridge crest to reach the top of this point - #13, #14 and #15.

Now that you're more than half way across, the ridge becomes more difficult. Downclimb a steep pitch (#16), pass through a notch and climb to another point. Scramble along the narrow ridge as you approach another major point - #17, #18 and #19. #20 and #21 look back on this exciting section. Continue along the ridge (#22), downclimb to yet another notch (#23) and scramble a bit more (#24) to reach easier terrain, near the end of the ridge - #25.

Drop northwest from the ridge and cross flat terrain to reach Pacific's upper, east ridge, above 13,400' - #26. You've now joined the final section of Pacific's standard route, which uses the Spruce Creek trailhead. Once on the ridge, climb 450' on somewhat loose rock to reach the summit - #27, #28 and #29. #30 and #31 look back over the route. The shortest way back to your vehicle is to descend the same route.

If you'd like to add Atlantic Peak or you do not want to return over the ridge, descend Pacific's Southeast Slopes route. If you descend this way, you'll end up at the main McCullough Gulch trailhead and have to walk the roads approx. 1.25 miles to the "North" McCullough Gulch and your vehicle.



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Route Photos  Print Options

Photo #1
#1: Parking at the "north" trailhead. Don’t expect a trail.
Photo #2
#2: On the main road, looking south to the trailhead and start of the route.
Photo #3
#3: Near 11,800’. Sorry, it was pretty dark when I took this photo.
Photo #4
#4: Near 12,400’, hiking northwest up the ridge.
Photo #5
#5: At 12,700’.
Photo #6
#6: Approaching the good stuff.
Photo #7
#7: Near 13,000’ on the narrowing ridge.
Photo #8
#8: The first few sections are fairly easy and don’t require much scrambling.
Photo #9
#9: Approaching the first major point.
Photo #10
#10: A fun ridge, with great views.
Photo #11
#11: You can’t see it from here, but there’s a lot of ridge remaining.
Photo #12
#12: Approaching another, more rugged, point.
Photo #13
#13: You have several options in this area - left of the ridge crest is easiest.
Photo #14
#14: Fun scrambling.
Photo #15
#15: Looking back along the ridge.
Photo #16
#16: More than 1/2 way along the ridge, downclimb this steep pitch and continue past a notch.
Photo #17
#17: Much more scrambling remains.
Photo #18
#18: Approaching the highest point on the ridge.
Photo #19
#19: Again, stay on the ridge crest or just to the left.
Photo #20
#20: There’s plenty of scrambling if you stick to the ridge crest.
Photo #21
#21: Looking back on a fun stretch of ridge.
Photo #22
#22: The final 1/3 of the ridge is easier.
Photo #23
#23: Excellent views of Atlantic and Pacific Peaks.
Photo #24
#24: It’s not over yet!
Photo #25
#25: Leaving the ridge.
Photo #26
#26: Hike northeast to reach Pacific’s upper east ridge, the standard route to the summit.
Photo #27
#27: Stay on or left of the ridge’s edge.
Photo #28
#28: The final pitch.
Photo #29
#29: Summit.
Photo #30
#30: On the summit, looking southeast over the route.
Photo #31
#31: A close look at the ridge’s difficulties.

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