Crystal Peak is another dramatic and impressively rugged summit located north of Pacific Peak. Atlantic, Pacific and Crystal are sequenced together in that order for a longer, ten-mile day that visits an array of terrains and includes some pristine mountain lakes and abundant wildflowers in the brief "summer" month. One way mileage and elevation gain to Crystal are measured from the summit of Pacific Peak. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the entire circuit. Combining these three summits offers a chance to "bag" three, Top 100 peaks in a single day - a rare occurrence for peakbaggers.
From the summit of Pacific Peak, head down north off the steep summit cone, following the ridge line. The east side of the ridge drops off rather dramatically into an ancient glacial cirque with the expected cliffs. The west side of the ridge is less intimidating, but the route is almost all rubble of various sizes including boulder size. Once you reach the Pacific-Crystal saddle, things begin to relent a little. As you continue NE now, the final ridge approach to Crystal becomes more gentle and there's even a little bit of tundra near the ridge, half way up to the summit. The talus is smaller & more stable. But one thing reverses itself. Now, the west side of the ridge offers the drama with rugged cliffs and gullies that lead down onto vast rock glaciers that converge onto the valley bottom of an unnamed drainage that flows NW to SH 91. The rock glaciers are quite impressive. The summit of Crystal offers more stunning views, especially of the north face of the mountain that drops dramatically into another cirque-like valley. To the east are the two inviting Crystal Lakes.
For the descent and return to the start, try these rough directions. Head directly down the south face of Crystal, aiming for the unnamed, upper lake at 12,460 ft. The descent will start on talus & scree and lower down, if you pick the right route, you'll begin to encounter some tundra before reaching the tundra plain above and around the lake. We found the series of four lakes all the way to Mohawk Lake to be an area of lush growth with abundant wildflowers and numerous marshy areas in early summer. Marsh Marigolds were all over the place. This was especially true at the upper two lakes. At times, the various marshes sent us zigzagging around to try and keep our boots somewhat dry. The Forest Service map shows a trail all the way to the uppermost lake, however the vegetation may have obscured it. At the second lake at 12,391 ft., you can pick up a trail that will lead directly down to Lower Mohawk Lake. East of the lake at 12,391 ft., it passes through a section of low, open willows. That trail continues down to the Mayflower Lakes and the Spruce Creek TH. For the purpose of getting back to you vehicle however, you must continue ESE from the 12,391 ft. lake and drop down to Mohawk Lake. Find your way around the lake on either north or south end. The south end has boulder rubble to deal with but is a little more direct to get to the next objective.
From Mohawk Lake, you need to work east crossing one small rise just above 12,200 feet, then about a third of a mile farther SE, cross over another small rise/bump on its' SW end. The goal is to contour around the long east ridge that comes off of Crystal Peak at a level between 12,000 and 12,200 feet and then drop into a high tundra basin that sits over the Blue River/McCullough Diversion Tunnel. Avoid the low willows and at 11,500 feet, begin to drop south out of that basin toward a service road for the tunnel. Once you hit the road, walk down to McCullough Gulch, cross the creek, then continue up the road to where your vehicle is parked to complete the loop.
For other route and approach ideas for Atlantic, Pacific or Crystal, see "Colorado's Thirteeners" by Gerry and Jennifer Roach.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.