Mt. Emma is connected by a long ridge to Gilpin Peak and we have sequenced this summit with Gilpin, however, we did not use the connecting ridge. One way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Gilpin. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence.
Our proposed route to Mt. Emma retraces the ascent route on Gilpin back down the couloir and descending to about the 12,600 foot level. At that point, begin contouring SE on a rocky, boulder-talus bench and cross the rugged east ridge that extends off Gilpin. Continue the contour southward into a basin that's largely below the Gilpin-Emma saddle, crossing the bottom of another large rock glacier that descends from near the saddle. After crossing the rock glacier, head towards Pt. 13,027 that's on the ridge that connects Stony Mtn., to Emma. There will be much more pleasant and manageable terrain compared to the contour under Gilpin. At this point, we should admit here that when we did this contour that avoids Gilpins south ridge, it was later July 1995 and much of Yankee Boy Basin was still covered in snow, thus the long contour was on snow and not talus making progress much more rapid and easy.
Gain the secondary ridge that extends from Pt. 13,027 to the Mt. Emma NE ridge. Either follow the secondary ridge to the main Gilpin-Emma ridge or contour SW below that main ridge for a while before coming to a couloir that will lead up to the Mt. Emma NE ridge. Once on Emma's NE ridge, head SW for the summit block. Any obstacles can be easily avoided by working off the ridge a little on either side. At the main summit block, most choose to contour out onto the Emma north face, just below the summit blocks and cliffs. If doing so, there will be three main couloirs that you can ascend up to gain the summit ridge. We chose the third one we came to and found it snow-filled. With ice axe and crampons, we headed up the couloir which lured us in with a fairly easy slope angle which steepened more as we ascended. Toward the head of the snow-filled couloir, we estimated the angle to be 60°. We were using the pick end of our ice axes to make upward progress instead of plunging the point in. At the head of the couloir, we found ourselves only about 75 feet from the summit. The walk over to the high point was easy.
The summit of Mt. Emma offers another great view not only of Yankee Boy Basin but also of the Telluride Valley and beyond. On this late July climb for us, we were amazed at all the snow that was still left from an abundant winter supply. The summer of 2019 will likely be similar. To descend, we walked back east along the summit and then chose another couloir to drop down on the north side that was less steep and shorter. This would probably make the best access for ascending to the summit. Once down past the summit block, return to the NE ridge and follow it down, then drop into the NE basin below Emma and Stony to make your way back to the TH or wherever you parked. Once out of the talus, there will be lots of tundra and in mid July, abundant wildflowers. Great photography here!
Note: G&M's route for Gilpin & Emma had hikers coming up into the rocky basin/bowl below the Gilpin-Emma saddle and then gaining the Gilpin south ridge at about 13,400 ft. by veering right of the saddle, ascending to the right of a cliff of black rock, then climbing up a "flat butress" that consisted of crumbly shale with exposure before gaining the ridge. Once on Gilpin's south ridge, it's a Class 2 chip-rock walk to the summit. To get to Emma, they had you return by the same route, dropping back down into the same basin, traversing over to Pt. 13,027 and then ascending Emma much as we did. "Furhtermore" has a useful route description for climbing Emma from Governor Basin on LoJ.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.