Pomeroy Mountain A (Ranked, 13,151′)
Unnamed 13,070 (Ranked, 13,070′)
Grizzly Mountain (Ranked, 13,708′)
Cronin Peak (Ranked, 13,870′)
“Low Carb” (Unranked,13,591′)
Cyclone Mountain A (Ranked,13, 596′)
Carbonate Mountain A (Ranked, 13, 663′)
This past Saturday morning Steve and I motored down to Poncha Springs and up road 240 to the historic Shavano townsite. Armed with a prototypical September forecast and only one day at our disposal, we hoped to get some good bang for our buck out of the day. Earlier in the week we set our sights on a ridge run from Pomeroy Mountain to Carbonate Mountain (including Cronin), a loop we knew had been documented a few times already but a somewhat rare one nonetheless.
From the Shavano townsite we bounced along in Steve’s trusty RAV4 and parked it to the north of Billings Lake high in North Fork. After gearing up we made good time up Pomeroy Mountain’s southeast slopes to its summit.
Of all the things I appreciated about this high alpine ridge run, the views it lent us was at the top of the list. These peaks are tucked away in a unique area, one neither of us had visited before. It took us a few minutes and a glance at the map to realize we were staring at the backside of Aetna, Taylor, and Missouri Hill, with Monumental Peak poking its head out above the ridge line to our south. To the north we enjoyed views of Pomeroy and Grizzly Lakes, which are accessible from the Chalk Creek Road to the west of St. Elmo.
After tagging our first summit, we were treated to some of the better scrambling the day had to offer on the traverse over to Pt. 13,070. It went at class 3 and entailed a number of fun slab moves along a series of crumbly gendarmes. For the most part the rock was solid, and dropping slightly off the ridge line to the north made things easier in a few spots. We topped out on 13,070 about 40 minutes after leaving Pomeroy’s summit.
The stretch from Pt. 13,070 to Grizzly was definitely the longest of the entire loop and entailed the most elevation drop/regain (the first photo in this TR shows the down climb off Pt. 13,070 and the first part of the ridge over to Grizzly). Steve and I both agreed that Pomeroy and 13,070 are the two peaks to cut out of this loop if one is looking for a shorter day out. With the weather holding calm and sunny we grunted up Grizzly’s south ridge and topped out on our third peak. After talking ourselves out of trying for Mt. Mamma (those who know Steve and I would be proud), we fueled up and started off towards Cronin.
Once on the Cronin/Cyclone connecting ridge we took another look at the weather and decided that Cronin was definitely in the cards. Although I had summited Cronin before in the spring and skied down the northeast face, I was curious to check it out during the summer months via the southeast ridge. Steve was even more motivated to get Cronin as he’s loosely working on the Centennials and had yet to bag it. We made good time up the gentle ridge and topped out around 1:30pm.
After spending a good amount of time on Cronin we reversed our route back down to the “T” junction on the ridge line and headed south for our final few peaks of the day. We made our way up and over “Low Carb”, an unranked hump along the ridge, before topping out on our fifth peak, Cyclone Mountain.
From Cyclone we plodded on over to Carbonate, which given the length of the ridge we had already traversed seemed like a skip and a hop away. On the summit we spent a few minutes chatting with a trio of 14ers.com/LOJ members we ran into, then parted ways and began the long talus descent back down to the road.
Descending Carbonate’s southwest slopes went easier than I expected, and after briefly finding a trail before losing it again, we popped out on Road 240 near its intersection with Cyclone Creek. Although we would have liked to believe the day was over, we still had a 3 mile, 1,100 foot slog back to the car parked on the north side of Billings Lake. We turned off our brains and made it to the car in roughly 45 minutes, but not before stopping to check out some of the changing aspens in the area.
Moonlight Pizza in Salida provided the cherry on top of what was already a great day in the hills. Steve, it was great getting out with ya buddy, let’s do it again sometime.