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LoJ: Soft Ranked / 13,192' Mount Moss

Range › San Juan Range
Quadrangle › La Plata
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 26' 20.11", W 108° 04' 41.41" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Note: See also Lavender Peak. G&M rank Moss as #492. Since LoJ & Roach have decided that Lavender is missing a contour line thus making it higher by extrapolation they have given it a rank and demoted Moss to "soft rank" status. Might as well just climb both if you're there. Moss is an easy stroll from Lavender.

Mt. Moss is a Class 2 ruble summit SE of Hesperus and Lavender. In our presentation, we have sequenced Moss with Hesperus and Lavender for an interesting day of hiking in the La Plata Mountains. Mt. Moss will use the same trailhead (Sharkstooth) as the others which can be reached by vehicles with higher ground clearance, however, passenger cars can drive to within about a mile of the trailhead. 

Mt. Moss NW Ridge Route

Class 2
Peak Icon Peak Icon Peak Icon
Long Day // Back for Dinner
Climbed with Hesperus Mountain + Lavender Peak
RT From Sharkstooth - Hesperus TH: 5.55 mi / 3,172'
From Lavender Peak: 0.30 mi / 292' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Sharkstooth - Hesperus TH

      From Durango, CO, drive west on US160 to the small town of Mancos. Turn right at a main and marked intersection and go about .4 miles north, then bear right onto CR42, which later becomes FR561 as it enters San Juan National Forest land. Drive north on this road about 10 miles to an intersection for the "Transfer Campground." The first four miles or so are paved with the remaining 6 being graded gravel. Coordinates for the intersection are: N 37° 27' 58.77"  W 108° 12' 38.59". A right turn will take you shortly to the campground, but to reach the Sharkstooth TH, continue straight for another 1.0 mile to yet another intersection where you will bear right. In another .9 mile, you should come to the turnoff for the "Aspen Guard Station." Continue straight east here for another .5 mile, still on FR 561 and turn right onto FR350. Follow this road about 7 miles generally east to another intersection for Twin lakes. Turn right here onto FR346. Drive another 1.6 miles to the trailhead parking area. This last 1.6 miles to the trailhead will become rougher and a good clearance vehicle is advisable, though 4WD is not necessarily required. 


      Camping

      The nearest National Forest campground is the "Transfer CG" about half way in on the drive. Here is the link: https://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/sanjuan/recarea/?recid=43262. The site has potable water and vault toilet. There are about 12 sites and also a group area that can be reserved. 

      The remainder of the drive in to the trailhead offers several primitive sites and it's possible to car-camp at the trailhead, but there's little privacy if others are present. There are at least two primitive sites near the Twin Lakes and another primitive site past the lakes on the way to the trailhead. 


      Campsite Locations

      Transfer › N 37° 28' 06.11", W 108° 12' 29.07"
      8,950 ft. elevation
    Approach Map Photos
    • From Hesperus Mountain Lavender Peak

      • Hesperus Mountain West Ridge  Class 2+ / 2.2 mi / 2,480’ One-Way


        The last mile or so to the trailhead is rough and requires higher or 4WD clearance, so keep that in mind when planning this trip. The remainder of the road to that point is okay and maintained well. Tha last mile will slow you down quite a bit. 

        From the trailhead, head SE on the trail, losing some elevation to a crossing of the North Fork of the West Mancos River. The present trail crosses the river at about the 10,700 foot level where the map shows a fairly wide avalanche chute cutting down to the stream. Follow the trail across the stream and then westward across the avalanche chute and back into the forest. Not long after entering the forest, we noticed a couple of rock cairns along the trail leading up on the left (south). If able, locate and follow a faint trail through the wet undergrowth heading uphill toward Hesperus. The faint path led us into a very minor drainage that we followed for a short time before exiting to avoid some willows. This exit took us over (SW) to a rubble field that we crossed and then aimed for more open terrain up ahead. Along the way we found some nice slopes covered with Columbine and other assorted flowers which we stopped to photograph. 

        Our route on up the mountain took us a little west of south, aiming for the west ridge of the peak at a saddle along a more flattened portion of the ridge at just below 12,200 ft. Gaining this saddle involved some steep rubble scrambling for part of the time. At the saddle, the tundra on the lower ridge ends and from this point on, you will be hiking on fairly small and loose rubble. As you ascend the west ridge, there will be some short cliff bands to surmount. These never presented any real difficulty but did offer a little fun. 

        Keep following the ridge eastward over all kinds of loose rubble to the summit. We crossed a few more very minor rock bands, all of which were easily bypassed. The summit affords a nice view of the connecting ridge over to Lavender & Moss. Trip accounts we had read on the internet made it sound like a traverse over to those two summits would be difficult, but if you've reached this summit early, consider a traverse on over to Lavender & Moss.  It will be worth considering because it's not all that difficult, however, you don't want to be caught in inclement weather on this traverse. For us, the weather was cloudy/overcast, but stable, so we decided to try and go for it and if the weather caught us, we felt we could exit to the basin south of Hesperus and contour back across the west ridge and head back to the trailhead. 

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      • Lavender Peak West Ridge  Class 3 / .75 mi / 400’ One-Way


        Lavender Peak is sequenced with both Hesperus Mountain and Mount Moss. One way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Hesperus. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence. 

        Begin your traverse from Hesperus to Lavender by heading down to the southeast from the Hesperus summit on some fairly loose talus. The first prominent notch just south of the Hesperus summit is easy to get around. Below it, descend 200 feet to find good access across all the rubble as you swing more easterly toward Lavender. Some infrequent cairns may indicate you are on a previously used route. Continue the contour on the south side of the ridge and you'll have to cross 3 other gullies. The next  two are passed on the south side and the third, we crossed a little on the north utilizing a dicey little snow patch, but this saved a drop to the south of at least 100 feet. After crossing the third, ascend a steep chute and then begin contouring below the summit of Lavender. At one time, Moss was considered the ranked summit of this pair of peaks, but more recently, Lavender has achieved the ranked status and Moss is now considered a “soft rank.” 

        Once you feel you have contoured to a position below the split summits of Lavender, begin your ascent.  Scramble up a steepening, narrow gully, on solid rocks and great blocks toward the split summit. We encountered 3rd and perhaps 4th class terrain (with minimal exposure) as we climbed first to the west summit and then crossed over to the east or middle summit. (Because of the near 4th class terrain, some rate Lavender as Class 3+.) There’s a third summit farther east, but it is definitely lower, whereas the other two are almost equal. All in all, though the traverse over from Hesperus is on a lot of loose and difficult rock, it is not technically difficult and goes more quickly than anticipated. From the Lavender summit, you can easily scout out the traverse on over to Moss if you choose to continue. 

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    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Mt. Moss NW Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2012

    Mount Moss is sequenced with Hesperus Mountain and Lavender Peak. One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Lavender. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence. 

    From the summit of Lavender hike/scramble down the SE slope on more loose rock. It takes about 20 minutes to descend to the saddle and another 20 to ascend over more talus & loose rock to the Moss summit. There are no difficulties other than all the talus. In case it was ever found to rise more than 300 feet above the saddle, it made sense to hike up Moss. We stayed about 15 minutes on this summit and utilized some of that time to survey potential routes on Babcock, our destination for the next day, but from Boren Creek. The Moss summit offers a chance to study routes up to Babcock from out of Tomahawk Basin if you're contemplating that approach. 

    For our return route, we descended Moss and contoured at saddle level below Lavender heading back west. At the first main saddle west of Lavender, we headed down the steep, rock & talus filled gully to the north. Along the way on this descent, we spotted two cairns (further down) that consoled us some that others had passed this way. The first 400 feet of descending were steep and loose, but that all gradually gave way to more manageable terrain farther down and some nice but brief tundra areas. We continued bushwhacking down the basin first north, then northwest and finally west as we got into the trees aiming/hoping to intersect the trail we had followed in the morning that crosses the West Fork of the North Mancos. About the time we were beginning to wonder where that trail was, we came upon it and then hiked back uphill to the trailhead. Total time for us to complete the three summit loop was about 8 hours. 


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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