Colorado Scrambles A Guide to 50 Select Climbs in Coloradoand39;s Mountains  by Dave Cooper

Colorado Scrambles: A Guide to 50 Select Climbs in Colorado's Mountains Guide Book

by Dave Cooper (Colorado Mountain Club Press)
Colorado Scrambles A Guide to 50 Select Climbs in Coloradoand39;s Mountains  by Dave Cooper
Colorado’s mountains offer advancing climbers exciting and challenging terrain to test their skills and discover spectacular scenery. Colorado Scrambles shares the secrets of 50 less-traveled routes to 80 of Colorado’s most impressive peaks. Includes: detailed information for getting to the trailhead and the information you need to enjoy scrambles in some of the most spectacular and pristine areas of the state; critical routefinding points identified with GPS data; routes identified by length and difficulty; overview sidebars highlight the main features of each route; full-color photographs feature the stunning mountain scenery, and also from an integral part of the route descriptions; all the major mountain ranges of the state!

© 2005 Dave Cooper/Colorado Mountain Club Press. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Colorado Scrambles: A Guide to 50 Select Climbs in Colorado's Mountains" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 47.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 47.

A long backpack to a camp below Vestal Lake, and a short steep scramble on 3rd and possibly 4th class terrain. Many people consider this to be the finest scramble in the area. Sustained frictioning on steep quartzite and a stunning location make it a must-do route. From the meadow at 11,400 feet (A1), take the relatively flat basin between Arrow and Vestal Peaks (A2) at about 12,150 feet. The route can be seen in its entirety from this spot. A faint climbers trail will help get you started.
Needleton, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 2
One of the most spectacular peaks in Colorado, this is one of the handful of fourteeners whose normal route is also a classic scramble. This climb is very doable as a day climb; however, most people prefer to backpack to the vicinity of Capitol Lake, thereby shortening summit day. (If you plan to camp by Capitol Lake, self-register at the trailhead). Two trails leave from the trailhead; they both take you to the same place and each has advantages and disadvantages. Both are described here. The traditional trail (Trail 1961) drops 450 feet initially before heading up Capitol Creek. The Upper Capitol Ditch Trail (Trail 1963) stays higher initially and provides better views of the peaks. Both trails eventually come together and head up towards Capitol Lake.
Emma, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 16
A pleasant trail hike to Pitkin Lake followed by a scramble to the ridge. 3rd class climbing on solid rock leads to the summit. Another enjoyable Gore Range scramble in the heart of the range, with fine views of many other peaks.
Bighorn, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 11
This peak has been described as “a smaller version of Lizard Head Peak.” Certainly, the summit block has the same aiguille-like appearance and is similarly composed of fractured volcanic rock. The climbing, however, is only third class. A rope is good to have though, because of the loose rock, although it may be a challenge to find a placement that’s any good. The exposed summit is often climbed by belaying one person at a time over to the true summit.
Ophir, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 4
This is a fun, short scramble on a famous landmark. Driving along US 550, south of Silverton, you have probably seen this peak many times. One of these times you should stop and climb it. It’s worth it!
Cascade, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 6
While not a ranked peak (just a subpeak of Crystal Peak—13,852 feet), the east ridge of Father Dyer presents an esthetic and enjoyable scramble. This route provides a good introduction to the “art” of scrambling, offering some exposed but not sustained climbing and even a bit of loose rock to initiate the budding scrambler. Because of the relatively short (less than 1000 feet) ridge being climbed, the commitment level is lower than many of the other routes described in this guide, although as Ginni and I discovered one June morning, the rapid buildup of thunder clouds can still necessitate a hurried descent. After jumping on a series of snowfields to bail off the ridge between Father Dyer and Crystal we arrived back at Lower Crystal Lake. As we were putting our ice axes away a nearby hiker commented that we had all the gear with us, including our “whackers” (ice axes?). As on many other occasions, we were happy to have had our “whackers” along.
Blue River, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 7.5
The aptly named “Grand Traverse” crosses the rugged skyline at the head of Bighorn Canyon and is clearly visible from the town of Vail. The traverse takes in two peaks, unofficially known as North Traverse Peak (13,079 feet) and Grand Traverse Peak (13,041 feet). This route offers the opportunity to visit two of the most scenic canyons in the Gore Range. In the fall these canyons can be quite stunning with their aspen-laden hillsides.
Bighorn, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 11
One of the famous “fourteener traverses,” the Harvard-Columbia ridge is also one of the longest. This traverse is typically accomplished by dropping down on the east side of the ridge several hundred feet and walking across relatively flat tundra. However, scramblers can make this traverse much more interesting by staying on or near the ridge crest. How much you deviate from the top of the ridge will depend on what level of difficulty you desire. There are always options, including quite technical routes near the famous “Rabbits”. Most scramblers will be happy to bypass this section and keep the climbing at no more than a fourth class level. The route is described as a one day climb from the car. This is certainly doable, but many parties prefer to establish a camp in Horn Fork Basin. Breaking up the route like this shortens the climb and reduces the chances of being caught in the middle of the ridge by bad weather (as I have been). I just hate to encourage more impact on the heavily used Horn Fork Basin. Use your judgment about the weather and your speed.
Vicksburg, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 14.6
A short backpack into the Middle Fork Basin; moderate trail hike to a pass with a steep, difficult scramble on extremely loose rock. From the trailhead hike for 5.2 miles on a good trail to the saddle between Heisshorn and El Punto (EP1). You will pass several well-marked side trails to Porphyry Basin and the Coxcomb Trail; you will then pass below Precipice Mountain and Coxcomb to your right. If you are planning to climb the other peaks from this basin, consider camping near the junction with the Coxcomb Trail (C1).
Cimarron, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 3.4
We made a couple of attempts before summiting Ice Mountain. On one early-season trip, we postholed all the way up the South Fork of Clear Creek (what, snowshoes? —a bad decision had us leaving them at the car). Our original plan was to climb the fine snow couloir on Ice Mountain’s north face, but snow conditions were not stable enough by the time we arrived at the base of the couloir, so we elected to try the ridge instead. After almost falling through the heavily corniced north ridge a couple of times, we turned around.
Winfield, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 8
The Ellingwood Ridge is one of the classic routes pioneered by the famous climber, Albert Ellingwood. This is another committing route, and it should be attempted only in good weather. Once you have engaged the major difficulties of the ridge, retreat is not easy. Many parties race for the summit as afternoon thunderstorms roll in. Expect to spend at least five hours actually on the ridge. You may notice that I’ve included more detail in this description than in most of the other routes in this book. This indicates the level of routefinding complexity to keep the difficulty at no more than 4th class while enjoying the wonderful scrambling that the ridge provides.
Everett, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 9.6
From the town of Mancos on US 160 (20 miles west of Durango) turn north on CO 184. After 0.3 miles, turn right on FSR 561 (AKA CO 42) at the sign for Transfer Campground and the Sharkstooth Trailhead. Reach Transfer Campground at the 10 mile point. Stay on FSR 561 for 2 more miles, following the signs, until half a mile past the Aspen Ranger Station. Take a right turn onto FSR 350 (again, well signed). After 4 miles, the road forks again, the left fork being FSR 351 and the right fork FSR 350. Stay right. 2.5 miles further, the road forks again. Take the right fork, signed to the Sharkstooth Trailhead, which you will reach in 1.5 miles. This last mile and a half may be a little rough for some passenger cars.
Golconda, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 6.4
Backpack approach, with short but steep 3rd and 4th class scramble to the ridge, followed by exposed 3rd and 4th class scrambling along ridge on excellent rock. What, another fourteener traverse, you ask? Yes, but what a quality scramble! When combined with the NW face approach to Little Bear (which is worth a route in this text by itself), this route has to be one of the best. Long, committing, and challenging, this is a real test piece for scramblers.
Blanca, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 4.4
This relatively short scramble is lots of fun. Little Matterhorn is actually the east ridge of Knobtop Mountain, and like Lone Eagle, the objective is the end of the ridge, rather than the high point. In fact, the crux of the route is reaching a large cairn on a point just beyond the “end” of the ridge. I recommend not eating your lunch until after negotiating this squeeze chimney!
Estes Park, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 8.4
This traverse is really the east ridge of Pawnee Peak, and is the most interesting way to climb Pawnee Peak. Routefinding on this ridge is a significant challenge, so although the climb isn’t long, it’s definitely worthwhile.
Ward, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 8.7
This great peak is one of the few peaks you’ll climb where the summit is undeniably not the high point of the ridge. Nevertheless, it makes a fine scramble, even by its easiest route. As of August 2004, the campsites near Crater Lake were being relocated to allow overused areas to recover. Check with the Forest Service for the exact locations of the new sites.
Ward, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 3
This is one of the more committing routes in this book, and is a serious undertaking. Steep snow and technical rock (5.4), combined with route-finding issues and lack of an easy escape when the weather turns bad, all contribute to make this a climb to be taken seriously. There have been a number of epics on this route. One reason for this is that weather approaching from the west is hidden from view until it reaches the mountain. Several years ago, friends and I were climbing Taylor Glacier in late-season alpine ice conditions. A couple of pitches below the top, we saw a black wall of clouds approaching, so hurried to complete the climb and descend Andrews Glacier to safety. Two climbers on Keiners were not so lucky, being caught in a significant snowstorm. One climber did not survive.
Estes Park, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 11
If you have a few spare hours while in the Silverton area, consider this climb. It is a short, fun scramble providing spectacular views from the summit. This peak is in the heart of the San Juans and provides good views of many of the important ranges in this area. It is well named.
Silverton, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 2
“The Deadly Bells!” This persistent name has been earned due to the number of fatalities on these peaks. Many of the accidents have occurred in the couloirs rather than on the ridge route described here. Even so, that does not mean that this route should be taken lightly- it is a serious undertaking and as with the other routes described in this book, should be attempted only by experienced scramblers. I know of at least one bivouac that has occurred here, although I’m sure there have been several more. Nevertheless, this is a very worthwhile scramble for the competent climber, with challenging 4th. class climbing and complex route finding on less-than-ideal rock.
Aspen, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 10.8
A circumnavigation of the peaks and ridges ringing Mayflower Gulch. This seldom-climbed rugged ridge offers some challenging routefinding. An impressive series of both “major” and “minor” towers spouting up in the final third of the traverse has inspired local climbers to dub this “Rockfountain Ridge.” The route can be climbed in either direction; however, the traverse from Unnamed 13,841 (“Atlantic Peak”) to Fletcher Mountain (13,951 feet) involves two pitches of technical climbing up to 5.7 in difficulty, with some loose blocks the size of refrigerators. If climbed in the opposite direction, these pitches can be rappelled. The route will be described from Gold Hill to “Atlantic.” Bring at least a 50 meter (165 foot) rope to rappel the technical sections as well as to raise the comfort level on the extensive (not to mention, very loose) 4th class terrain.
Kokomo, CO - Climbing - Trail Length: 7.3

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