Grizzly Peak E
Combines well with Jenkins Mountain and UN13,140B from the Pieplant Mill site. Grizzly is a Class2+ peak with plenty of boulder rubble to contend with, typical of many Sawatch summits. The Pieplant mill site serves as the trailhead and is accessible by higher clearance vehicles. 4WD not required. Located North of Taylor Park Reservoir, drive time to the Pieplant mill site is over four hours for either Front Range or West Slope climbers.
Grizzly Peak E NE Ridge Route
From US Highway 50 in the middle of Gunnison, turn north onto SH 135 and drive to Almont. Turn right onto FR742 and follow to Taylor Park Reservoir. At an intersection by the SE corner of the reservoir, continue north on FR742 on the east side of the reservoir for 6.5 miles appx. to the "Pieplant Cow Camp." Turn right onto FR742.3D which heads in a northerly direction to the old Pieplant Mill site. The Gunnison NF map identifies the road to Pieplant as FR742.3H and another source says 742.8F, but the road is actually signed (as of 2015) as FR742.3D. It is 3.8 miles up this road to the old mill site. Along the way, there is one gate to pass through. The road starts out fairly good and never really requires 4WD, but good clearance is useful for getting through potholes, mudholes etc. The road does get a little rough toward the end.
If coming from Buena Vista via Cottonwood Pass, follow Gunnison CR209 down west from the top of the pass to its intersection with CR742. Turn right (north) at 742 and drive 4.35 miles to the Pieplant turnoff on FR742.3D as described above.
At the Pieplant Old Mill site, there is ample, primitive camping available in several spots, either in the trees or on the edge of the large meadow. There are also any number of primitive sites on the drive in as well. Most of the forest up to the mill is lodgepole. A number of deer graze in the meadow evening and morning and the old mill site offers some spare time diversion. This was quite an operation in its day.
From Jenkins Mountain
Class 2 /
3.2 mi / 3,150’ One-Way
Jenkins South Ridge
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From the Pieplant Mill site, walk up an old road to the mill site and continue following that road as it heads uphill to the north into the forest and toward the actual mine site at 10,800 ft. At about 11,000 foot level past the mine, leave the old roadbed and head NE up an intermittent drainage, then angle SE to a minor ridge and slope that joins the main south ridge of Jenkins. Nice tundra will slowly give way to more rock, but nothing too tedious or rugged. Follow the south ridge to where it intersects the east ridge. Turn left and walk NW to the summit of Jenkins over mostly small chiprock and talus. Time from Pieplant will be about 2.5 to 3 hours.
Return by the same route or continue on to UN13,140 and Grizzly for a much longer and more difficult day.
Class 2+ /
1.25 mi / 500’ One-Way
UN13,140B North Ridge
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This peak is sequenced with Jenkins Mountain before and Grizzly Peak following. If following that circuit, then the distance from Jenkins to UN13,140B is 1.25 miles with an additional 500 feet of elevation gain. To complete the circuit over Grizzly from UN13,140 will be an additional 4.7 miles and 1160 feet of elevation gain.
From the summit of Jenkins Mountain, walk SE along the ridge crest and keep following the ridge ESE to a saddle WNW of the 13,050 unranked point. From that point, keep following the main ridge as it turns more to the south losing about 100 feet in elevation before beginning to regain that and more to reach the summit of UN13,140B. As you approach the summit, the ridge will break down into some minor pinnacles. You could attempt to clamber over these staying as high as possible, but we chose to lose some elevation by dropping down a steep, talus-filled gully and then regaining the ridge past the pinnacles by climbing up another gully. The last 100 feet in elevation to the summit will lead over some steep rock that will require some minor scrambling. This last stretch is where the difficulty level could reach 3rd class. For the most part, however, the ascent is Class 2+.
Year Climbed: 2000
This route description is based on a sequence of a loop hike that begins at the Pieplant Mill site, climbs up Jenkins Mountain, then continues to UN13,140B. From UN13,140B, it's an additional 1.5 rugged miles to Grizzly with 900 feet of gain. To complete the loop, you'll hike another 3.2 miles back to the mill site with an extra 260 feet of gain.
From UN13,140B, follow the ridgeline SE a quarter mile or so on fairly easy terrain. As you progress, staying on the ridge crest will become progressively more difficult. Shortly, you will come to a section where you will either have to do some serious climbing/scrambling or abandon the ridge and head down into a large, steep, loose, rock-filled couloir to the south. Drop 400 feet in elevation down that couloir and then start looking for an exit. The descent goes quickly on a lot of scree. Head east over a more level area to a minor basin at 12,600 ft. This will mostly be covered in boulders. Ascend to the saddle between Pt. 12,882 and Grizzly on more boulder rubble. Follow the ridge SW to the Grizzly summit on yet more rubble. With some luck or if earlier in the season, there may be snow fields in the minor basin that will negate having to clamber over the relentless boulders to reach the saddle. Once on the ridge however, you will have no other choice than to navigate the innumerable rocks and boulders to the summit. It will take about one hour or more to traverse from Jenkins to UN13,140B, then at a minimum, another hour to reach Grizzly.
To descend and finish your loop hike day, head SE off the Grizzly summit and down a rocky, rounded ridge. If early enough in the season, a narrow band of snow may allow a glissading descent along a portion of this ridge. At 11,400 you'll reach some trees and be able to leave most of the rocks and talus behind, but not before one final trek across one other boulder field. Continue SW descending through easy forest until you intersect a trail known by several names depending on the map used. The USGS quad calls this the "Rocky Mountain Pack Trail." The most recent Gunnison National Forest map identifies this as Trail #414, aka: the "Timberline Trail." This trail follows the wilderness boundary and heads generally NW and takes you all the way back to the Pieplant Mill site, for an easier and more pleasant finish to your day. This descent will add 3.2 more miles to the day for a total loop of 9 or more miles with total elevation gain of over 4,800 ft.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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