When the forecast in late November calls for sunny skies and temperatures exceeding 60 degrees, there are two thoughts that immediately come to mind: "climate change is real," and "maybe I should go climb a mountain!" Both Grand Turk and Sultan Mountain have been on my radar for many years, ever since I saw them for the first time from Ice Lake Basin in 2013. With the abnormally hot weather we have had in Southwest Colorado this autumn, I figured a quick 45-minute drive to the trailhead at Little Molas Lake would be a great way to spend a Sunday…
13,824 ft. Jagged Mountain has always provided ample intrigue from every angle I have ever viewed it from. It has always looked virtually unclimbable to me, representing the raw essense of Colorado's Weminuche Wilderness Area - untouched and unseen by most, scaled and appreciated by even fewer. I attempted Jagged Mountain once before in September of 2013, where my climbing partner Jeremy and I found ourselves huddled in a tent for four days during the worst flooding in Colorado's recent history. I last saw the summit of Jagged Mountain from my perch atop 13,835 ft. Turret Peak at sunrise last…
With only a small handful (10) of the highest 100 mountains in Colorado (Centennials) left to climb, I have become quite picky about my approach to choosing the trips I embark on. For my first climb of 2017, I chose to ascend 13,940 ft. French Mountain and its soft-ranked neighbor, 13,876 ft. Frasco Benchmark. These are two fantastic 13ers hidden in the Collegiate Range between Colorado's highest mountain, Mt. Elbert, and Colorado's 2nd highest mountain, Mt. Massive. A KML file and overview of my hike are available over on GaiaGPS - which is my absolute favorite iPhone app! This was…
I first admired Pigeon Peak's utterly impressive east face from the summit of Arrow Peak in 2010 on one of the most epic trips I've been on in my life. Ever since then, I knew that a trip up Pigeon Peak would be in my future. It only took 6 years, but I finally pulled it off. If someone would have told me at the start of the year that I was going to photograph the Perseid Meteor Shower from the saddle between Pigeon Peak and Turret Peak this year I would have just laughed it off. After living in…
After visiting Ice Lake Basin in August of 2013, I knew that I had to return to the area to photograph the wildflowers there at peak season (mid-July). After moving back to Colorado in November of 2015, I knew that one of my first destinations would be the Ice Lake Basin area. I also wanted to get my wife into backpacking so I got her equipped with some light gear and we both began exercising together to get ready for the primetime hiking season. Since my wife was new to backpacking, I decided to get our pack weight as low…
Backpacking into the wilderness is an activity that is not easily surpassed. There is something about the raw nature of it all, like a tribute to our roots as human beings, which makes it such a powerful experience. Pair that experience with the ascent of two of Colorado's more challenging Centennial peaks, all while being with one of your favorite humans on Earth, and you have yourself a recipe for unforgettable memories. When my friend Silas asked me to go with him to climb Wilson Peak and Mount Wilson again, I knew we would be in for an adventure to…
I moved back to Colorado this past November. I liked Oregon but really missed my Colorado mountains. I landed a pretty fantastic job in Durango and have been working hard over the winter to get back into climbing shape and be ready to go for the summer and fall. The La Plata Mountains are very close to Durango, closer than I thought. A quick 45 minute drive and I was at the trailhead to some of the most impressive climbing in the state - and few even knows it is there. My friend Schuyler and I decided to do Babcock…
After an amazing day of rigorous hiking which culminated in a successful summit of Half Peak by Sarah Musick and I, we slept at our fantastic campsite in the picturesque valley below Cuba Gulch, near Lake City, Colorado. Instead of taking the longer, more scenic (and steeper) route to Jones Mountain via Cataract Gulch near our campsite, Sarah and I opted to drive over to American Basin and approach Jones Mountain from that side. Usually, climbers looking to summit Jones Mountain approach it from Silverton; however, because Sarah and I were already on the Lake City side of Engineer Pass…
This is the first installment of a three part series, exploring some amazing peaks in southwest Colorado near Lake City. Living in Portland, Oregon has certainly slowed my progress towards climbing the highest 100 mountains in Colorado. Last year, I was only able to summit one mountain on my (at the time) remaining list of 17. This year I wanted to change that a bit. I started planning very early in the summer to spend about a week in Colorado trying to work on finishing my goal. I made plans with my best friend Sarah to head to the San…
It is no secret that I moved to Portland, Oregon in January 2014 – lured by a much more walkable city than Colorado Springs, filled with breweries, vegan food, and citizens of a much similar political and philosophical mindset. I’m not going to lie though; I miss my friends and I miss the Colorado Mountains deeply. I was born in Colorado and have been climbing Colorado’s high peaks since 1982. The mountains run deep within my veins. So, when I knew I would be spending a week in Colorado over the last week of September, I jumped all over the…
I had always dreamed of climbing Teakettle Mountain ever since seeing my dad's photo (left) of him standing in the Teakettle's handle back in the 1980's. Naturally, as a small boy, this feat was legendary, epic and awe-inspiring - surely one of the drivers behind my own quest to summit the highest 100 mountains in Colorado. So, when I received an email from Rick McBee asking if I'd be interested in climbing Dallas Peak and Teakettle Mountain, I was ecstatic. The climb up Dallas was remarkable and was probably one of my favorite ascents to date. After conquering Dallas, we…
August 30, 2013Distance: 11.5 miles (according to GPS)Elevation: ~5,700 ft (according to GPS)Time: 10.5 hrs (4.50 am to 3.20 pm)Team: Rick McBee, Ben, Matt Payne and Natalie Moran   I suppose I never dreamed of climbing Dallas Peak. First viewing it's full stature from the summit of Mount Sneffels in 2010, I was immediately struck by how intimidating the peak appeared and how overwhelmed I was with a sense of fear and surrender. I'm pretty sure my exact words were, "F*!$ that!" :-) Fast forward three years and a few climbs later and my attitude towards difficult mountaineering feats has…
When the dates for the 2013 Perseid Meteor Shower were released, I knew I wanted to schedule some time in a very remote location to capitolize on the opportunity to capture as many meteor shower photos as possible. I did a little research and took a look at my remaining Colorado Centennials that were left to climb and enthusiastically declared that the Ice Lake Basin would be the perfect location. I knew that the trip would be amazing for a photographer, but perhaps boring for someone that is not into photography. I reached out to my friend Ryan Fonkert to…
Climbing mountains in solo-mode is therapy for me. While I have often espoused a deep belief that climbing mountains solo is a safety concern, there are times when the benefits outweigh the risks. I'm not sure that this particlar climb qualifies; however, I must admit, this was a truly wonderful experience that I will never regret. I decided somewhat at the last minute to take Friday off of work and climb a 13er. Having only 20 or so Centennials left to complete my quest of the highest 100 in Colorado, I have been getting more motivated to tackle the mountains…
I had fully intended to climb the Centennial French Mountain this weekend, but plans change. My climbing partner Sarah and I left Colorado Springs at around 3:45 AM and reached the North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead at 6:15 or so. A pretty late start for this guy! In order to climb French Mountain, we would need to cross North Halfmoon Creek and head south. When we reached the creek, it was easily up to our waist and I had no intention of driving my Jeep through that deep of a creek crossing. A decision was quickly made to abandon our attempt…
Two amazing summits; 11,060 ft. elevation gain, 21.5 miles... and a whole lotta' fun. Introduction Last year, I had plans to complete my long quest to climb all of Colorado’s 14ers. I had the calendar all lined up, trips planned, gear ready and my legs were in great shape. If all went to plan, I was to finish on Windom Peak after a long summer of knocking out some of Colorado’s toughest peaks. Unfortunately, as is so common in this sport of mountaineering and peak-bagging, those plans were interrupted. An unsuccessful attempt on Snowmass Mountain in June left me with…
Originally, my friend Ethan and I had made plans to climb the Three Apostles - three great 13ers over near Leadville; however, the Waldo Canyon Fire started the weekend prior and by Tuesday had burned out of control - 346 homes were burned to the ground in Mountain Shadows and Highway 24 was closed. The main access to the mountains was Highway 24, so we were pretty much stuck on the Front Range. Additionally, the whole week had been an emotional rollercoaster for everyone - my parents evacuated their house and stayed with us for a couple of nights. Ethan…
Mount Oklahoma is often forgotten by many, including myself, for a variety of reasons. There's nothing very remarkable about the look or feel of Oklahoma or the route to climb it. As Gerry Roach explains in his guidebook for 13ers, Mount Oklahoma is dwarfed by its neighbor to the east, Mount Massive, which is the 2nd highest mountain in Colorado. Despite this fact, Mount Oklahoma is more than OK - it offers solitude, unique views of mountains in all directions, and a fresh perspective on the art of "peakbagging."  Mount Oklahoma is not a mighty mountain, nor is it meek -…
UN 13,832 and UN 13,811 (UN = Unnamed) have been on my radar for quite a few years now. My dad and I were hoping to tackle them both back in 2009 but weather steered us elsewhere. I've also eyed them as a potentially fantastic winter climb from the Williams Creek TH, but have not had the ability to string together the time to pull that off either. So, when I figured I had the opportunity to take a vacation day and do some climbing, I quickly picked out these two gems. I coached my son's first t-ball game and…
This Spring has been quite dry and I've been feeling the itch to get out and get up a summit. I mulled the idea of heading up to do Lackawanna (a high 13er near Independence Pass); however, I knew my time was limited and that I would need to stay closer to home. So, I put out a feeler to my climbing partner Ethan Beute to see if he would be interested in doing something easy close to home. We both settled on Cameron Cone, the easily recognized point often seen in front of Pikes Peak in many photos of…
Day 1: Backpack from Endlich Mesa to Lillie Lake Day 2: Climb one 13er, backpacking over Trimble Pass and Columbine Pass Day 3: Sunrise from North Eolus, summit of Eolus and Sunlight Day 4: Climb of Windom Peak and pack-out The Weminuche Wilderness Area and the mountains it contains are quite possibly some of the most incredible places on Earth. My first memory of the area was from 2000, when I led a group of 8th and 9th graders from Highland Mary Lakes to Vallecito Reservoir as part of my employment with Colvig Silver Camps. I remember fondly the views…
Mount Wilson's claim to fame as one of Colorado's most dangerous 14ers is certainly well deserved. As Colorado's 16th highest mountain, Mount Wilson rises to an impressive 14,246 ft. above sea level and the boasts the State's 9th most amount of prominence with 4,024 ft. The monarch of the San Miguel sub-range of the San Juan Mountains, Mount Wilson is a formidable mountain, without question. The history surrounding this mountain is quite intriguing as well. The first ascent of Mount Wilson is somewhat contested, but it is generally agreed that the first group to ascend it was the Hayden Survey…
Day 1: Drive to Lead King Basin and Backpack to Geneva Lake ~ 1,400 ft. elevation gain ~ 3 miles Day 2: Snowmass Mountain via the West Ridge Route ~3,000 ft. elevation gain ~ 6 miles Day 3: Hagerman Peak via the standard route (south ridge) ~3,000 ft. elevation gain ~ 6 miles Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak have sustained my attention for quite a few years. Ever since I first recall setting eyes on Snowmass Mountain from the summit of La Plata in 2005, I was in awe. The massive snow field that sits in the bowl that is…
Quite a few people save Culebra Peak (ranked 41st – 14,047 ft.) as their last 14er; however, I wanted to just get it out of the way sooner rather than later. If you’re wondering why I am talking about this mountain as if it is like a trip to the dentist – there’s a reason – it costs $100 to climb it and another $50 if you want to do Red Mountain (ranked 70th – 13,908 ft.).  The Culebra sub-range of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains has been embroiled in controversy for years. In fact, the New York Times once…
Mount Adams is one of the last mountains in the top 100 in the Sangre de Cristo Range that I've yet to climb. It has always drawn my attention on other hikes in the area, and I had hopes of climbing it this spring. Instead, I opted to climb California Peak with Ethan, which was a great hike. Originally, I had planned to climb Pyramid Peak this weekend; however, none of my climbing partners had crampons, so we decided to hit Mount Adams instead. I had always read great things about climbing Mount Adams, and Gerry Roach has the west…
Fourth of July weekend always provides a tremendous opportunity for mountaineering, and this year was no different for me. Early in the year (January), I was eagerly planning my summer's climbs and saw this weekend and knew it would be both tremendous and controversial. You see, my wife's birthday is July 3rd. I begged her to allow me to climb on this weekend, knowing that it would probably be the only way I would be able to successfully complete the 14ers this year, which was my goal. My wife was really cool about it and said I could go. With…
The adventure of my July 4th weekend for 2011 just wouldn't end on its own. After spending the morning in Telluride sulking about our partial defeat in Navajo Basin, Regina and I decided to drive back to Colorado Springs and lick our wounds. As we drove closer and closer to Blue Mesa Reservoir, I got a wild idea in my brain. Since both Regina and I still had three days off for climbing, I figured that it would be a total shame to waste that time off and gas money on only one climb up Wilson Peak. Even though we…
When Regina and I embarked from Colorado Springs, the plan was to backpack up to Snowmass Lake and climb Snowmass Mountain, putting me within 10 climbs of completing all of the 14ers in Colorado. Unfortunately, some unforeseen circumstances prevented us from reaching the summit of Snowmass Mountain, which I will go into detail about later on. Fortunately, there was ample opportunity for photography, and that opportunity was not passed on. For those that follow my trip reports, Regina is a friend of mine that I met through 14ers.com and our relationship could best be described as one of two siblings.…
San Luis Peak is a gentle giant, rising to 14,014 feet in the middle of the La Garita Wilderness Area, which means "The Lookout" in Spanish, according to Wilderness.net. The 50th highest ranked peak in Colorado, San Luis Peak is named after the valley it towers over, the San Luis Valley. According to Hayden's 1877 Atlas of Colorado, the valley itself was named by an early unknown Spanish explorer, the patron saint of whose village was San Luis. I've been wanting to climb San Luis for awhile now. Not a technical climb nor arduous hike, San Luis is generally considered…
Mount Princeton has been on my radar for a long time. As the most visually prominent (but only 8th most prominent, literally speaking) mountain in the Sawatch Range and Collegiate Peaks, it always has greeted me with warmth and nostalgia to the Arkansas River Valley and the quaint town of Buena Vista (yes, it is pronounced "Bewna," we know) during my travels into Colorado's mountains. Mount Princeton is the 18th highest mountain in Colorado, towering over the valley below at 14,197 feet in elevation. According to The Princeton Alumni Weekly, the first recorded ascent of Mount Princeton was on July…
California Peak has long eluded me. Being one of the highest 100 mountains in Colorado (a Centennial), it has been in my sights for awhile. California Peak rises to 13,849 ft. and is ranked 84th highest in Colorado based on my list of the highest 100 mountains in Colorado. Over the past two years, I've set eyes on it numerous times, first from the summit of Lindsey, Iron Nipple and "Huerfano," and later from the summits of Ellingwood Point and Blanca Peak, all close neighbors of California Peak. I had hoped to climb it back in 2009 with my wife,…
Traver Peak is a high un-ranked 13er (13,852 ft) in the Tenmile Range just one valley north of the Kite Lake basin, which includes the popular 14ers Lincoln, Democrat and Bross. The valley which Traver calls home is also home of one of the highest 100 summits in Colorado, Clinton Peak, Wheeler Mountain and another un-ranked peak, McNamee Peak. My original plan was to summit Traver Peak, traverse over to McNamee and finish off on top of Clinton Peak... Since my wife and I had plans for Saturday, I decided to hike on Sunday. My friend Regina had to work,…
Mount Rosa is a 11,499 ft. mountain located just west of Colorado Springs and from Colorado Springs appears to be next to (north of) Cheyenne Mountain. Mount Rosa is a deceptive mountain though because it is actually quite a bit west of Cheyenne Mountain. According to David Phillips, who wrote an entire thesis on the mountain, the peak was named in 1874 after Rose G. Kingsley, a prominent figure and devoted hiker in the early days of Colorado Springs. As a native to Colorado Springs, Mount Rosa has always intrigued me because of its visibility and prominent form.  In fact,…
If you've followed any of my other trip reports this year or last year, you'd know that Tabeguache Peak is officially my nemesis. After one failed attempt last year (2009) due to weather, another failed attempt this May due to exhaustion after summiting Shavano, and then a 3rd failed attempt in September due to trying to knock off too many 13ers in one day, I felt I needed to return to conquer this beast of a mountain. Tabeguache is not a technically challenging 14er, or even inaccessible due to distance or other factors, so why has it given me and…
Earlier this year I had made plans to climb Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente with my dad; however, plans quickly changed through the summer as Ray painfully realized that he did not have the flexibility, strength, nor desire to conquer those mountains. We decided instead to take a camping trip with my son, Quinn, up to the southern Sawatch range and I would figure out alternative climbing options later. Being that one of the best months to climb mountains in Colorado is September, I wanted to get in as much hiking time as possible to soak in the…
I've had my eye on Mount Sneffels for quite some time. This gem of a mountain located near Ouray, CO, is one of the most splendid-looking mountains in all of Colorado. Sneffels first caught my attention back in February, when I snowshowed on Miller Mesa, to the North of Sneffels. Mount Sneffels as seen in February, 2010. Additionally, I was able to get great views of Sneffels and the surrounding rugged peaks back in June from the summit of Handies, and in July from the summits of Arrow and Vestal. Sneffels and Teakettle as seen from Handies. Sneffels' pinnacles can…
Rio Grande Pyramid has long been on my "to-do list" for the Centennials (the highest 100 mountains in Colorado). Isolated by over 10 miles from its neighbors in the San Juan Mountains, Rio Grande Pyramid sticks out like a sore thumb by itself to the east of the Needle and Grenadier subranges. I viewed Rio Grande Pyramid from many angles this year, including a great view from Handies, and another wonderful perspective from Vestal and Arrow Peaks. Needless to say, I have been eyeing Rio Grande Pyramid a lot this year, and I have known since January that I would…
Mount Elbert – 14,433 ft. – ranked highest in Colorado, 2nd highest in the contiguous United States (highest is Mt. Whitney at 14,505 ft.) I had originally planned on climbing Snowmass mountain with Terry this weekend, but my wife’s mother, Donna, asked me a few weeks ago if we could give a 14’er a shot. Donna has been reading my reports here for awhile and I think she was bitten by the 14’er bug. As she had never done a 14’er before, I did some research on the ‘easier’ 14’ers and figured that Elbert would be a good choice due…
Capitol Peak carries a mystique among hikers and climbers in Colorado. First climbed in 1909 by Percy Hagerman and Harold Clark, Capitol Peak is often revered as the most difficult 14er in Colorado. Capitol Peak towers above treeline in the Elk Mountains of Colorado, a crumbling mass of granite, shaped into a rugged pyramid with spiny ridges. While I have a great respect for Capitol Peak, I felt that I had personally prepared myself for the climb through graduation along the difficulty continuum of climbs in Colorado. Having summited several of Colorado's harder Centennials (highest 100 mountains), including Crestone Needle,…
What an action-packed trip this was! From off-roading one of Colorado's most difficult 4x4 trails to witnessing a full-scale Search and Rescue operation! As if climbing one of Colorado's most challenging 14ers wasn't enough! To start off, here is a break-down of relevant numbers from this adventure up Little Bear Peak: Peak summited: Little Bear Peak: 14,037 ft. (ranked 44th in Colorado) Total elevation gain: 2,360 ft. Total distance hiked: 2.54 miles Total time hiking: Approx. 5 hours Photos taken: 252 Search and Rescue operations witnessed: 1 Little Bear Peak sits impressively next to Blanca Peak in the Sangre de…
I have to admit, when I put together my climbing schedule for this summer, one of the mountains I was least looking forward to climbing was Longs Peak. Renowned for a very long approach and a trail full of people, Longs Peak is the closest 14er to Denver, Ft. Collins, Greeley and Boulder. Longs can be seen from the I-25 corridor running from south Denver, all the way north to the Wyoming border. It is an impressive and memorable looking mountain, with it's east face holding one of the most popular and famous alpine climbing routes, The Diamond. To start…
There really is only one word that can aptly describe the Grenadier Range: incredible. This sub-range of Colorado's San Juan Mountains rests deep within the Weminuche Wilderness Area and sweeps up from the valley below in a gravity-defying statement of beauty, ruggedness and splendor. Sitting approximately 9 miles south-southeast of Silverton, Colorado, and 32 miles northeast of Durango, Colorado, the Grenadier Range cannot be missed. In fact, I would go as far as to say that this group of mountains should be among the places one should see before they die. Made mostly of quartzite, these mountains are the spine…
The Sawatch Range of Colorado is known for its long, gentle giants such as Mount Elbert, Mount Massive, etc. It would also seem that most visitors to this area of the state are solely interested in climbing only the 14ers, due to the popular sport it has become to summit all of the 14ers in Colorado. I must admit that I have been caught up in this craze myself; however, one of my favorite climbing past-times is to spend time tackling some of the lesser-known 13ers, and that is just what Ethan Buete and I did this past weekend. To…
Hiking in the San Juan Mountains was quite possibly the best gift a dad could get. Make that two dads. My dad is who introduced me to climbing mountains at the young age of six, and it was fitting that we spend Father's day climbing a mountain that we had both had our eyes on for quite a few years. While my dad had originally planned in the 1980's to save Handies Peak as his last 14er, he decided to give up that idea. The last time my dad climbed a 14er was Uncompahgre Peak in 2001 - another father-son…
Interesting statistics: Start time: 5:30 AM Summit time (Huron): 9 AM Summit time (Browns): 11 AM Finish time: 1:20 PM Mileage up: 3.6 Mileage down: 4.2 Total mileage: 7.8 Huron Peak Elevation: 14,003 ft. Browns Peak Elevation: 13,523 ft. Total elevation gain: 3,900 ft. Total photos taken: 219 GPS map of our route (ascent in red, descent in blue): This trip report begins with an interesting back story. I had a new member join my site in May from South Dakota. This member eventually messaged me on Facebook and asked if he could join me on some of my climbs…
My goal for my first 14'er of 2010 was to summit Mount Shavano (14,229 ft) and then traverse over to Tabeguache Peak (14,155 ft). I had made this attempt last year at the end of May and was able to make it to the top of Shavano but was pushed off the summit by weather, subsequently postponing my summit of Tabeguache. Last year, I climbed the standard route of Shavano, which was a good adventure; however, I wanted to attempt the Angel route this time. Having watched several people ascent via this route last year, I was both intrigued and…
Sentinel Point is a fairly unknown mountain on the west side of Pikes Peak. One can access the mountain by driving to Divide on Highway 24 and heading South on Highway 67 just past the old tunnel. The "Horsethief Park" trailhead, which provides access to both Sentinel Point and Pancake Rocks can be found roughly halfway between Divide and Cripple Creek. Having just purchased new snowshoes, my friend Ethan decided that he wanted to test them out. We departed Colorado Springs around 6:30 AM and began hiking around 7:45 AM. The trail begins fairly easy and we did not put…
Some fun information about this great hike: Mt. Massive - 14,421 ft. - 2nd highest in Colorado; third highest mountain in the contiguous U.S. 8 miles round-trip via Southwest slopes route 3,950 ft. elevation gain More snow than I expected... I thought that my climbing season had ended after being snowed on in mid-September on Grays and Torreys; however, I got the itch to climb again this weekend. Serendipitously, a fellow climber from Colorado Springs, Rob, posted on 14'ers.com that he was going to Mt. Massive on Saturday and that anyone from Colorado Springs was welcome to join him. I…
Short story: One of the most scenic and enjoyable hikes I’ve ever had the pleasure of doing. Long story: On Friday evening I drove via I-25, C-470, and I-70 past Vail to the Tigwon Rd. near Minturn, CO. The total drive time was 3.5 hours. I think I arrived at the trailhead at about 9 PM and prepared my luxurious accommodations: I’ve been wanting to do Holy Cross for a long time. The famous views of the Cross Couloir are something I’ve been wanting to see since I was a little kid. Not that I’m religious, but the mountain is…
Kit Carson Mountain is a very prominent mountain located in the Sangre de Cristo Range. The area surrounding Kit Carson Mountain is both rugged and pristine, with views of amazing peaks such as Crestone Needle and Crestone Peak in abundance. The hike to Kit Carson Mountain by way of the Willow Creek trailhead is nothing short of astounding, with breathtaking vistas available the whole way up. To put it lightly, this is one of the best hikes in Colorado, bar none. Here are some meaningful statistics from my adventure up these amazing mountains: Challenger Point – 14,081 ft – ranked…
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