A Weminuche Dozen, Part III: Hunchback Pass Trio

      11 Comments on A Weminuche Dozen, Part III: Hunchback Pass Trio

Steve working his way west off the summit of White Dome towards Peak One with Arrow, Vestal, and the Trinities behind. Click all photos to enlarge.

…continued from Part II

After summiting Mt. Silex and The Guardian, Steve and I returned to our camp and packed up under darkening late-morning skies. We slowly but surely worked our way out Leviathan Creek and up the Vallecito drainage to a nice campsite just off the trail around 11,500 ft to the north of a few prominent waterfalls. Tired but ecstatic to be nearing the finish line of our trip, we set up camp under a nice sunset and cooked up some grub before trading it in a tad earlier than we had in nights previous. I’m not sure about Steve but I was pretty tanked at this point and ready to get over Hunchback and down to Silverton for a much anticipated beer and post climb feast.

Lush vegetation seen along our trek out of Leviathan Creek drainage.

Waterfall and pool near 11,000 ft in Vallecito Creek.

Camp for the night.

Day 5: Hunchback Mountain, White Dome, Peak One, and the deproach

Before we were going to allow ourselves the aforementioned luxuries however, we decided to throw one final objective into the mix – a set of three 13ers extending west from Hunchback Pass which we knew would add a definitive explanation point to our trip. An early wake up call in the morning had us packed up before sunrise and heading for the pass.

5am the next morning, Steve and I crested Hunchback Pass and were treated with an incredible gift from the Weminuche.

We dropped our packs, taking the extra time to rig up some webbing and hang them over a 12 foot cliff to avoid any more unwanted marmot visitations. From there we took advantage of the benefits brought on by 4 days of acclimation and peakbagging, summiting Hunchback mountain in about 25 minutes from the pass. From there we could see the the ridge run over to White Dome and beyond. Peak One looked pretty far away.

White Dome and Peak One behind it back left. Most of the contouring return route we used to get back to Hunchback Pass can be seen lower left in this photo.

White Dome’s double summit seen from the low point between Hunchback and White Dome.

Beyond this spot we made several solid class 3 moves to overcome the white band of rock seen ahead in this photo.

We rated White Dome in the top half of the peaks we hit on this trip, mainly because of the fun series of class 3 scramble sections we found en route to its summit. The rock was solid through these sections and a few moves were interesting to figure out.

Interesting “petroleum” rocks.

From the top of White Dome we made our way down its west ridge, which entailed a few loose down climbs and some more precarious ridge scrambling than either of us were expecting. Up and down a few humps and we had Peak One in our sights, not to be denied our 12th peak.

Closing in on Peak One, the 12th and final peak of our Weminuche Dozen.

We topped out on Peak One and exchanged high fives. It felt really good to have accomplished so much in such a short amount of time. I’ve said it in the past but trips like this have a way of creating a certain level of anxiety, if for no other reason than we seemingly get the opportunity for such outings so rarely. It’s always super nice when it all comes together, and on this trip, it really did. We made sure to savor the last summit. And a very scenic summit it was…

Zoom shot of the Vestal Group from the summit of Peak One.

Another zoom shot of the Trinity Traverse in all its glory.

Mt. Silex and The Guardian, which we had summited the previous day, seen from Peak One’s summit.

After soaking it all in and gulping down the last bit of our liquids, we took an efficient route down One and across the south side of White Dome, which led us through some nice flower fields and lent us views of another “crazy blue” lake down below.

Wildflower laden meadows to the east of Peak One.

Looking down at Vallecito Lake as we contoured around the broad south face of White Dome en route to the notch in Hunchback Mountain’s south ridge.

From the southeast slope of White Dome we contoured around to the north of Vallecito Lake and ascended to a prominent notch in Hunchback Mountain’s south ridge. It was slow going but we eventually made it to the notch, from which we made an easy contour back over to our packs.

A look back at White Dome as we crested Hunchback Mountain’s south ridge. You can easily see how this peak got its name.

Saddled up for the final time, we plodded on down the north side of Hunchback Pass under the afternoon sun, reaching the car around 2pm. From there it was down to Silverton (thankfully Steve’s brake lines weren’t chewed in half by our furry friends) for a copious amount of pizza and IPA.

Making our way down the final mile and half from Hunchback Pass to Beartown. Vintage Weminuche.

This one will live on in my mind for a long time Steve. Thanks again for making it happen with me this summer. Until our next dozen…

The End

P.s. Here’s a map I put together of the 5 days, color coded by day for anyone who’s interested:

Weminuche Map

Day 1: Orange, Day 2: Blue, Day 3: Yellow, Day 4: Red, Day 5: Green. Map generated at 14ers.com. Click to enlarge.

11 thoughts on “A Weminuche Dozen, Part III: Hunchback Pass Trio

  1. summithound

    Thanks for a great report, Ben. I’d been trying to plan that trip for both ’13 and ’14, so it was great to finally get it done, and I couldn’t have asked for a better partner. And we still have some peaks to get out that way…

  2. NatalieM

    Thank you for the report, and especially, for the map! Now I can finally see what the heck you were hiking out there 🙂 I camped by that lake at the bottom of Pk 7 unaware I was staring at the hiking routes of Pk 9, Silex and Guardian. It is interesting to see the different routes we took up Pk 6, 7 and Storm King, and I imagine the bushwhack up the Leviathan creek might not have been very pleasant. I’d love to chat to either of you about it at some point. What an area! I am seriously drooling about some technical routes on the peaks in the area. Hopefully, some day…

    1. Ben Post author

      No prob, Natalie. I agree the map is a big help, even for me to understand what we did out there. Leviathan was somewhat of a task to access but I’m sure you’d manage it just fine 🙂 I’d be happy to discuss it with you at some point though.
      Enjoy your early ski season!

  3. Brandon Chalk

    Really cool, Ben. Yeah, I’m with Natalie on the help the map gives us is just seeing where the heck you fellers were all those days! Glad that trip came together for you guys.

  4. Floyd

    I was wondering when we would hear about the end to this saga but this looks like the highlight of another productive year. I know you feel differently, but I already miss the dry ridges but the days will begin to get longer again soon. You hit a ton of terrain that I’m curious of. Please keep all your pictures handy, I will be asking for beta in hopefully the next couple of years.

    1. Ben Post author

      Scot, no problem! We can discuss the area over IPA and pork loin sometime. Yes snow season is beckoning, but a small part of me is already missing summer hiking season (yep, I said it).

  5. summithound

    Just looked through this report again, reminiscing (and looking forward already to next summer). The last photo on the way out reminded me of that old curmudgeon on the trail who wasn’t impressed by Hunchback pass. Yeah, that colorful carpet of wildflowers sure was drab and featureless…what an ingrate.


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