A little over a year ago I attended a fall wedding in Crested Butte and snuck away for an early-AM jaunt into the hills. Crested Butte is home to a plethora of hiking and skiing options in and around the valley, including numerous low 13ers and high 12ers. One duo caught my eye in particular for their obvious aesthetics and accessibility – Mt. Owen B and Ruby Peak just north of Kebler Pass. What they lack in height compared to other peaks in the area they make up for in stature, looming large above Lake Irwin and the surrounding valley.
With a fresh dusting of snow falling the night before (which turned out to be around 5 inches), I wasn’t exactly sure how the ridge run would turn out. The road was thankfully passable all the way to the campground (and even a little beyond) so I was able to start from fairly close to the base of a large rock formation called the Grand Dyke that sits just south of Ruby Peak.
Ruby peak’s summit came quickly once I gained its south ridge. I was able to do this by exploiting an obvious weakness in the otherwise stout ridge line between Ruby and the Grand Dyke to the south. Once on the ridge I made good time to Ruby’s summit, where I was granted an awesome view of Owen and the remaining route to its summit.
The ridge from Ruby to Owen got interesting once past the connecting saddle between the two. Though I was able to keep it primarily at class 2, a few class 3 moves were required here and there, mainly because of the snow. In true summer conditions I imagine this route could be kept at class 2.
The views all around me started to open up and I spent half my time on the ridge just staring off in the distance at various geological features.
At one single point I remember working my way into a class 5 section with sizeable exposure down below. After looking at it puzzled for a few minutes I decided to back track and take a higher line across the ridge, which worked out much better. Overall it seemed that staying on the exact ridge crest made the entire route easier. A few hundred more feet of snowy wallowing and I topped out on Owen B. Some summit scenics:
After soaking it all in, it was back down the precarious ridge, off the saddle to the east, down to Green Lake, and then on down the road back to the car. From there I was back in Crested Butte helping with wedding venue setup 30 minutes later. You gotta admire the ease of access to the hills this area provides. Certainly beats Denver’s.
I’d like to explore this region some more in the near future. I hear the skiing in the area is quite good too. Thanks for reading…