Friday, October 11, 2013

Keller Mountain.

This week we set off for an adventure in the Gore Range.  On the north side of I-25 near Silverthorne, this range contains a wealth of 13ers and ruggedly beautiful scenery.  We started from the Rock Creek trail head right around 7.  The day was already surprisingly warm. 
The trail leads to an abandoned mine, and this is where we lost the official trail and just went up to gain the ridge crest and continue west.
Snow became more prevalent as we gained altitude, though I was still okay in trail runners.
And up...
Dan had suggested this peak due to the scrambling to get there.  As you gain the ridge at point 12840+, the next high point looks decidedly more difficult.  And it is.  Here is Dan down climbing a section.  This will be up to class 4, class 3 if you take the path of least resistance, and easier (though significantly looser) if you stay to the south of the ridge proper.
Views ever increasing in scope and breadth.
Another airy down climb.
Past the worst of the difficulties, it is now a short jaunt over to the true summit.
Which of course continues to offer spectacular views.
Contrail for perspective. 
Nearby peaks.
Back to point 13040+.
This looks back along the more technical ridge we'd climbed to get here to point 12840+.
Of course by now my feet were soaked and cold.  Toe warmers helped.
Back on the other side of the difficulties, we stopped for a rest and bite to eat.  Dan noticed a eagle catching a thermal up over the peak we'd just been on.  We could see a white tail as it looped around, and finally it came close enough that we were able to see it's stark white head.  My first Bald Eagle sighting ever!  What a spectacular animal. 
A great vantage point into the Rock Creek drainage as we descended. 
From here we stayed on the ridge, eventually finding the old abandoned trail leading back down.  This was a better way to go in my opinion.  No loose scree to deal with. 
We got back to the car around 4, giving us a nine hour day.  We'd forgotten how much more difficult snow makes everything, including scrambling with wet shoes!
My first trip to the Gore Range was very memorable.  Great scenery, good solid rock, and a fun summit.  I will be back!
Keller Mountain (13085 feet) via Rock Creek TH:
4.8 miles one way, 3585 foot gain.  Up to fourth class.  Strenuous-.

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