In early-August, Zambo and I took a day off work and headed to the Holy Cross Wilderness. We managed to pull off a nice little loop on a pair of unique peaks just ahead of oncoming afternoon weather. It was a good day out.
The two peaks on the agenda, “Ribbed Peak” and Pt. 13,100, took us to Woods Lake on the west side of the range, which neither of us had been to before. It’s a cool area that seems more reminiscent of the Gores than the Sawatch, with plenty of deep drainages, lush forests, and craggy peaks defining the landscape.
We started on the west end of the lake at sunrise and made good time up the defined trail around the private property. Neither of us had done much research on the approach, so when we lost the trail past Eagle Lake we weren’t sure if it was cause for surprise or not. After some bushwhacking, aggravating a few hornets nests, and losing then finding the increasingly faint trail several times, we eventually came upon the northern bank of Fairview Lake.
From Fairview Lake we had a good view of our ascent route up the south face of “Ribbed Peak” – a steep, rock and foliage studded gully that looked anything but inviting. But, like most routes like this, once we started up the slope and got some momentum going, it passed by in no time.
We topped out on a small saddle just east of the summit of “Ribbed”, then engaged a few short class 3 pitches of solid rock that led to the true summit. Again, it’s amazing how much this area feels like the Gores, including the scrambling.
From “Ribbed Peak”, we reversed our route back down to the saddle atop the ascent gully, then ran the ridge over to UN 13,100 (I wish this peak had a cooler name). We rarely found ourselves sticking to the ridge crest in favor of traversing a series of ledges and grass slopes on the ridge’s south side.
A few times we came around a corner and thought we’d have the slope leading up to the summit of 13,100 right in front of us, only to be surprised by a notch in the ridge requiring a few hundred foot drop in elevation. Eventually though, the ridge yielded and we hopped up onto the summit of our second peak of the day.
Upon topping out on 13,100 we came face to face with a nasty looking thunderstorm to the north that appeared to be heading straight towards us. About once per summer I lay eyes on a storm that actually looks legitimately threatening, and sure enough, this one did.
We worked our way off the summit down the broad southwest slope of 13,100. Fools Peak sure looked cool across the way and I think we both had hoped it might be in the cards. Thirty minutes into the descent the skied opened up and confirmed our decision to forego it, with an exclamation point.
The schwack to get back to the trail was nothing short of spectacular – forty degree grass slopes and downward sloping wet rock slabs, obscured by intermittent deadfall and dense foliage was par for the course all the way to the valley floor. Every summer I try to pin a metaphorical blue ribbon on the outing that entails the worst bushwhack…well I wouldn’t be surprised if this one winds up taking the cake. Although it’s too early to say for sure…we still have an upcoming Weminuche trip after all 🙂
Back at the car we kicked off the shoes, threw on some dry clothing, and enjoyed a fine lager which shall remain nameless, courtesy of Zambo. Then it was back to Eagle and onto Denver, with another satisfying day in the hills under our belts.
Zambo, thanks for joining on this one. Let’s do it again once or twice before the snow flies!