Ervin and Blaurock

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On the connecting ridge between Ervin and Blaurock.

This past weekend Anna-Lisa, several of her friends from work, myself and Brian camped near Twin Lakes for two nights, the primary focus being to hang out around the fire, toss bean bags through some wooden planks with holes in them, and enjoy a variety of hoppy libations. No camping trip is complete though without attempting a morning hike, especially with a good weather forecast, and with Anna-Lisa and her friend Melina intent on trying Mt. Elbert, Brian and I were left looking for a good 13er option in the area.

Mt. Blaurock (13,616′) and Ervin Peak (13,531′) sit two miles southeast of fourteener La Plata peak on the southern border of the Mt. Elbert quadrangle. This pair of peaks were officially named in 2004 in honor of William Ervin and Carl Blaurock, the two men perhaps best known for being the first to complete the Colorado fourteeners in 1923 (although they contributed much more to Colorado mountaineering history). Though non-technical, these peaks don’t see much traffic and are tough to access, the two options being a long approach up Little Willis Gulch from the north, or an almost entirely trail-less and very steep jaunt from the Winfield Townsite. Ultimately we decided on the Winfield approach, although in hindsight I’m not sure it was the better of the two options.

The only trail we saw all day.

After driving around Twin Lakes and bouncing along the potholed and washboarded Road 390 up to Winfield, Brian and I started the hike around 6am. Within three minutes of leaving the road we found ourselves immersed in the thickest, wettest aspen tree/willow bushwhack hell I’ve personally ever encountered (that is not an exaggeration, just ask Brian). By the time we found the trail (that of course heads straight towards Ervin from Road 390) we were soaked head to toe and had wasted about twenty minutes. Finally back on track, we followed the trial for maybe a quarter of a mile before breaking off of it and headed up along the east side of Ervin’s massive south gully.

Mt. Ervin framed by some weeds as I try to get creative with the camera.

The next part of the hike entailed nothing but 3,000′ of steep talus slogging. We were surprised by how loose certain sections were, particularly a field of fridge sized boulders around 13k that all seemed to want to shift as we hopped across them. Slowly but surely though we stuck it out and eventually came upon the summit ridge just south of the true summit, topping out a few minutes later.

Brian nearing the summit ridge with Huron behind.

Ervin’s summit with Mt. Hope framing the backdrop. We found some familiar names in the register.

From the summit of Ervin we headed over to Blaurock, which only entailed a few class 3 moves. I was hoping for a larger quantity of interesting scrambling than we actually encountered, but on the other hand it was nice to make good time across the mostly easy terrain.

Some class 3 scrambling along the ridge.

Once beyond all the interesting scrambling, the ridge to Blaurock looks like this.

We hit Blaurock’s summit and noted a few indentations in the sand/rock with burnt rock and wood around them. Lightning strike marks perhaps. A good reminder of how intense the storms have been this summer so far.

A unique vantage point of La Plata Peak from Blaurock’s summit.

Looking down into Little Willis Gulch with Twin Lakes in the distance. Rinker Peak is on the left, which I summited last summer on a very similar camping/hiking combo trip.

Once we had our fill of looking at stuff from Blaurock’s summit, we began what we knew was going to be a long knee-bashing descent. It’s always comical to me to see Brian plodding down loose talus and dirt with a scowl on his face only two months after ski season is over.

On the descent with Huron’s standard route and West Apostle visible.

We worked our way down the Blackbear Creek drainage before hopping over into Grey Copper Creek, where we found a faint climber’s trail contouring out of the drainage to the east. After losing the trail a few times and aggravating several large ant colonies we found in the woods, we finally hit an old mining road which took us back to Road 390. From there it was a mile or two walk back to Winfield and the end of our outing. We spent a few minutes talking to some people touring the Winfield Townsite, but then with the amount of vehicles parked at the Missouri Gulch TH (estimating 75 to 100), we figured we had better vacate the area as soon as possible.

A red flower.

The historic Winfield Cemetery.

Back at camp I was super excited to hear that Anna-Lisa and Melina were successful on Mt. Elbert, along with Jax (our dog) and Simba (Melina’s dog). It was their second attempt in two summers and a huge accomplishment, particularly for Melina as it was her first fourteener and hike above 13k. Congrats again Melina!

Stats for me and Brian’s day wound up being around 5.5 miles and 3,700′ in 8.5 hours, though it really felt like a lot more with the amount of off-trail hiking and bushwhacking we did. If I were to for some reason hit these peaks again, I’d probably go in from Little Willis Gulch as there is a defined trail all the way to the lake and a visible route to the tops of the peaks from there. Still a fun hike though.

Happy sloggin!

11 thoughts on “Ervin and Blaurock

  1. Brandon Chalk

    Very nice, fellas. Any peak you bushwhack for is well-earned. Cool lookin’ duo to hit down in that area.

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Brando! Not sure I’d hit em again in summer for any reason, but Ervin would make for an awesome 3k + of skiing straight down to Winfield if we could time the road access/snow coverage right. We should throw it on the spring list.
      Sorry to hear about your day on Cap, but it looks like you rebounded nicely with a scenic summit of Daly. I’ll be lookin’ forward to hearing how it goes when you head back up there.

  2. Brian

    Sweet recap Ben. The blue sky, views and camp are what I remember most about this outing. Throw in a new FREE place to camp and minimal brain damage on I-70 and it was a solid weekend!

  3. NatalieM

    Interesting to see how you approached this duo of peaks. After looking long and hard at the map I convinced the group to take the mining road, which took us to about 12k on Blaurock’s gentle shoulder. It added slightly to the mileage, but minimized the bushwhack/talus hopping. After tagging Ervin, we descended the steep gully from the low point between them, but found some game trails down lower. I’ve been too busy/lazy to put a TR with our route.
    Ben, how’s that Jagged adventure coming along? 😉

    1. Ben Post author

      Hey Natalie, I think our problem was we didn’t do much research, we just sort of went for it. Sometimes taking that approach can be fun, but it can also turn a trip into a PITA. I’m sure the way you went about this duo was much more logical than what we did.
      Trying to get in to do Jagged here soon. We have a trip planned out for this upcoming weekend/week but might cancel it on account of weather. That’s definitely a peak I’d like to do during a solid dry spell. I’m staying positive though, there’s still lots of time left this summer.
      Thanks for the comment!

  4. Floyd

    1st off, congrats to AL and her friend on Elbert. As for your two, I wouldn’t expect anything less than a ridiculous bushwack to make life miserable and mountains harder than they need to be. That’s why I like climbing with you guys. I think Helmut is in need of some Gore therapy after a class 2 Sawatch slog! Congrats on the camp though.

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Scot, I’ll forward along the congrats. I don’t actively try to make things harder, but it does seem like it happens somewhat often :).

  5. Sarah B.

    Those ‘shwhacks that leave you soaking wet are definitely the worst. Gotta throw those Frog Toggs on right out of the gate, guys! We did those peaks via that same route a few years ago, don’t remember it being too terrible, but I’m sure the experience varies greatly depending on where you decide to leave the road. Those are fun peaks. Congrats to the ladies (and hounds) on their successful 14er summit!

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Sarah. Yeah I hate the wet ‘schwack, possibly more than any obstacle these mountains can throw at us. It was our own fault though. I’m convinced we made these two more difficult than anyone ever has.
      Anna-Lisa and her friend were pretty excited! It’s good she’s finding some willing friends to do some of these easier 14ers with 🙂

  6. DKYarian (Zambo)

    Nice Benny….way to make something out of not much. The 13er options out of the central Sawatch are many. Looks like these were some good choices. And that Winfield sign is a heck of a lot less spooky with a bunch of daylight on it. I’ll never forget driving past that for the first time in the dark, when we were already unsure of where we were going. That’s a good way to get the motor running well first thing in the morning.


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