LIDAR technology has elevated Telluride Peak to a "ranked" summit located between the summits of Chicago Peak, T.7 and UN 13,510 (now 13,509 Lidar) on the Ironton quad and very near and accessible by way of Imogene Pass. From the pass, reaching the summit is a simple half mile jaunt. Telluride Peak could also be combined with a day that includes Trico Peak and UN 13,509 from Black Bear Pass. Our route combines it with T.7 and T.8 for a circuit that begins and concludes on the Red Mountain Pass side near the old Idarado Mine. While an Imogene or Black Bear Pass access required 4WD, the Red Mountain Pass route is accessible to all passenger cars, but involves much more mileage and elevation gain.
Telluride Pk via Commodore Gulch Route
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
+ T 8
RT From Idarado Mine - Red Mtn. Pass:
To reach the parking for the Idarado Mine viewing area, drive south on US550 out of Ouray for approximately 12 miles to a turnoff on the right that leads to a large parking circle that overlooks the Idarado Mine complex, most of which is on the south side of the highway. This is just before a very tight switchback. If coming from Durango/Silverton, drive north on US550 to the summit of Red Mountain Pass. Continue from the pass to the north and drop down just under 2 miles to the same turnoff that leads to the parking area, which will be just after the same tight switchback. The parking area is passenger car accessible. There are no facilities there.
Previously we advised that you could walk down through the old, somewhat preserved structures just west of the parking area to begin the hike. These are known as the "Idarado Houses" and have historic value. A two-year preservation and restoration project is presently underway (as of 2022) and the area is cordoned off. To begin your hike, either park on the switchback just above the viewing area (there's room for a few vehicles there) and walk NW avoiding the gated area off to the left to begin your hike., or park in the viewing area and walk up to the switchback curve along the highway to start.
The nearest camping areas are back north in the vicinity of Ironton and Ironton Park. There are primitive sites a short distance up the road for Corkscrew Gulch. There are plenty more primitive sites on the south side of US550 just south of the turnoff for Corckscrew Gulch. A few primitive sites can be found in the vicinity of Red Mountain Pass and up the Black Bear Pass road.
Click thumbnail to view full-size photo + caption
Year Climbed: 2001
From the trailhead parking area, you want to locate an old road labelled as FS895. The actual access from US550 has been gated, closed and posted for many years now. So, from the parking area for the Idarado Mine, walk downhill a short distance initially, heading NW a briefly toward some old structures that were once support buildings to the mine and then from the northernmost structure head more west and hike uphill a little to intercept the old road. Hike generally NW along the road until you come to the creek in Commodore Gulch. Not wanting to have to find a way across in the early morning, we turned west and began following the stream course on the south bank hiking up through trees, gaining almost 400 feet in elevation. There will be another branch stream coming in from the left (SW) which is easier to cross. Do so and continue walking uphill following above the stream as it turns from a SW direction to northwest and comes to a small pond/lake at just above 12,480 ft. At about 11,700 ft., there's a nice bench area. In that vicinity you may pick up an old trail that leads up to the small lake, however, this entire area tends to be laced with game trails anyhow through all the lush tundra.
From the small lake at 12,480 ft., follow the old trail NW up to Ptarmigan Lake, which does not come into view for some time. In fact, you don't really see the lake until you get above it. Around the lake and the smaller upper pond, there are old mining roads. From the low pass just south of the lake, hike west over gentle terrain and then contour NW to the south ridge of Telluride Peak. One of the old mining roads leads up in that direction. On our way up, we encountered several patches of snow at the very end of June. The remainder of the hike along the ridge is uneventful on tundra, embedded rock, scree & rubble. The most redeeming part of the ridge will be the fairly spectacular views off towards Telluride and the Black Bear Pass Road. This soft-rank summit is sequenced with T.7 and T.8 so if up to it, continue the hike on over too these two ranked summits.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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“Let’s pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.” – C. S. Lewis