September. I had a Saturday morning to kill with zero obligations and little interest in hanging around the house. Looking at the various options available to a Denverite weekend warrior, I decided on a day hike of Keller Mountain in the Gore Range. I can’t say enough for the splendor of the Gores, so I won’t go much further than to say each time I get in there I become more and more enamored with the range and what it has to offer. Keller Mountain wound up being no different, as it presented me with yet another thrilling ridge run in a familiar setting.
I set off from the Rock Creek Trailhead around 8am after making the hour and forty minute drive from Denver. The subtle late-September chill had begun to make its way into the air, and as a result I was greeted with a crisp morning breeze as I made my way west along the well-defined trail into the Rock Creek drainage. Rock Creek, being one of the only drainages in the Gore Range that was extensively mined in the late-1800’s, is home to the Boss Mine and its remnant tailings. I came upon these tailings a few miles up the trail and began my ascent up the obvious, undulating piles of sand and gravel on the north side of the drainage. A faint climber’s trail can be seen winding up and around these tailings, which eventually leads to a dense but beautiful Pine forest and tree line soon thereafter. As I made my way up through this area I stopped and took note of the changing Aspens and the serenity granted by this gorgeous place.
Once above tree line I made my way westward up and over an obvious sub-point making the beginning of Keller’s East Ridge. Here is where the true fun began.
I made my way along the class 3 ridge line, taking my time and admiring my surroundings along the way. In addition to the rest of the familiar Gore peaks to the north, I was granted superb views of the Grand Traverse (the connecting ridge between North Traverse and Grand Traverse Peaks) from the ridge.
After a good stint of intermittent scrambling and trundling rock off the south side of the ridge line, I arrived at Keller’s east summit. The ridge was a classic, and could be made as easy or as difficult as I wanted it to be depending on how low I was willing to drop down. I remember a few short sections of class 3 but other than that I was able to keep things at class 2+ and below.
After spending some time on top taking in the views and savoring what I knew would be one of my last true summer summits of 2013, I made my way back across the ridge and descended to the Rock Creek Trail. From there it was a skip and a hop back to the trailhead and the prospect of Chipotle in Silverthorne.
All in all Keller Mountain is a great way to experience what the Gore Range has to offer without the difficult approach and long day required to gain the summit of most Gore 13ers. If you’re looking for a solid introduction to this fine region, look no further than Keller. Thanks for reading!