Treasury Mtn. combines with one major difficulty with Treasure Mtn., its higher neighbor to the east along a connecting ridge. There is one, short, 4th/low 5th class difficulty to overcome on the ridge connect. Access to both these peaks is from Marble and to the townsite of Crystal. 4WD with high clearance is required. The 5th class section can be avoided by an elevation loss down a valley of appx. 1,000 feet and then a re-ascent. Taking this route down the valley will keep the overall climb to Class 2+.
From HWY 82 and Carbondale: Turn south off HWY 82 and drive into Carbondale staying on the main road, which is State Highway 133. Drive south past Redstone and on to the turnoff for Marble, which is less than a mile before where the highway begins to make the climb up to McClure Pass at a definite switchback. Continue on rougher pavement to the town of Marble. Make a couple of left-right jogs to continue east to Beaver Lake. If in a passenger vehicle, you might as well park here. If you have 4WD, continue east past Beaver Lake and up a steep climb to the intersection of Roads 315 and 314. Take 314 to the right for Crystal. The narrow, one-lane road drops to a shelf section where visibility of other vehicles approaching from the opposite direction is limited. Try honking your horn to alert others to your presence. You'll climb back up a little after the shelf section then eventually drop down to creek level. It's a slow and rough 4 miles to the Crystal townsite. Park where you won't interfere with the private residences. It may be both polite and advisable to request permission to park.
There is no camping in Crystal, or at least, we would assume the residents there don't want people camping in their front yards. On the 4 mile drive in, there are a few at-large spots right alongside the road. There are three National Forest fee campgrounds back out on HWY 133. One is at Redstone, the other just after turning off 133 for Marble and the third just over the top of McClure Pass.
Note: This route description is the first segment of a day that also includes Treasury Mountain. The overall mileage and elevation gain estimates reflects that inclusion.
The most significant difficulty of this hike may be finding a way across the Crystal River from the town. In 1998, we inquired with a local resident who told us to walk east past the last cabin and turn south to cross the creek. She mentioned a former bridge that was no longer there. A trail led down to the water and we found the river divided into 3 separate channels, separated by willow-covered islands. The third channel posed the greatest difficulty but we managed to get across dry on an unsteady, fallen tree and some rocks. The 9th edition of the "Guide To the Colorado Mountains" makes mention of a book by John Beyer, "Hikes and Climbs from Crystal," that describes crossing either on "an Outward Bound suspension bridge or on logs behind the southernmost house." Take that beta for what it's worth. Once you find a way across, head south up a steep embankment to an old roadbed and follow this east until it disappears. Continue bushwhacking through logs and underbrush, climbing up a steep slope to locate a vague trail on the west side of the creek that drains Bear Basin.
Most of the hike up along the creek is out of the forest, however that does not make the going any easier. The open field you initially encounter will be covered in a lush undergrowth and whatever trail you find will likely become lost in that vegetation. (Perhaps now, 17 years after recording this trip, a better trail has evolved.) Higher up, you may be able to regain the trail if you've lost it, once you clear the dense growth. Prepare to be soaked if it's rained recently. The lush vegetation continues quite a long ways into the upper basin. Above 10,300 feet, follow the west fork and further up, the tall vegetation gives way to lower growing tundra. Streams of water will be cascading across giant slabs of rock and the "Chimneys of Treasure Mountain" will loom dramatically to the west. At 11,800 feet, turn directly south and head towards the saddle just west of Pt.13,407. In early season, expect snowfields up to the saddle. Ice axe will be useful and/or microspikes. In later season, expect rocky rubble. The saddle is not difficult to gain.
At the saddle, turn west and follow the long ridge crest, first hiking over Pt.13,211, then losing about 100 feet and then continuing on mostly tundra with minimal rock to the summit. From this summit, you'll enjoy a spectacular view of the Snowmass massif to the north and the Ruby Range to the south with Yule Lakes sitting at the southern foot of Treasure Mtn.
Note: This peak is combined with Treasure Mountain, so the overall mileage and elevation gain estimates reflect a hike that goes up the west side of Bear Basin to the SE ridge of Treasure, to the summit of Treasure, then follows the ridgeline generally east over to Treasury. The descent route heads down into North Pole Basin, the east side of Bear basin and reconnects with the ascent route further down. The route description for Treasury begins from the summit of Treasure Mtn.
From the summit of Treasure Mountain, walk SE along the ridge crest on mostly tundra with minor amounts of rock back to Pt.13,211. Continue following the ridge crest dropping NE to the saddle between Pt.13,211 and Pt.13,407. The ridge begins to narrow considerably and it becomes evident that there will be about a 150 foot section of the ridge up to Pt.13,407 that will pose a problem. It's steep, broken and strewn with loose rock. If you attempt a direct approach right up the ridge line, be safe. A report on 13er.com by 14erdude83 indicates they were frustrated by this direct ridge section by a 5th class notch. That may be the best way to go. We went by a route that took us off the ridge crest and got us into a short 4th/5th class stretch. The route we chose contoured east from the saddle on a narrow bench that took us around the head of a few loose, steep couloirs. We came to a broader section where further contouring would do no good, so we decided to scramble up through a rocky cliff formation and then regain the ridge above. We followed a natural cleft upward, proceeding with care so as not to put rocks down on each other. Then we came to a clearly more technical section of the cleft/gully. For the next 80 feet, the climbing became 4th to low 5th class with some exposure on a loose, chalky type of rock with two critical, low 5th class climbing moves. At the head of this section, we could provide a belay for protection. A rope for psychological security was welcome, but there was hardly any way to protect this stretch for the lead climber. Helmets are advised. Once we were all above this section, the remainder of the hike over to Treasury was mostly on loose, broken rock, especially as you either go over or contour below Pt. 13,407. From the saddle between Pt.13,407 and Treasury, continue on mostly broken rock to the summit. See our photo gallery for a view of the technical section taken from across the valley on Purple Mountain.
Alternate to 5th Class: Apparently, a report by Sarah T. and a group she climbed with indicated that if we had continued to contour downhill SE below the cliffs for a good distance, (perhaps a .6 mile?) we would have eventually encountered an old mining cable that leads back up the steep slope toward the Treasury summit. It apparently goes a little west of the "south" ridge route (not the SE Ridge). Having this hand-line sounds much easier and the ascent becomes more of a class 2 or 2+ on a mix of tundra, embedded rock and higher up, talus/scree. The link below takes you to a report on 14ers.com by "bergsteigen" that describes this "cable" route and has a map that should help in locating where to find the cable. He rates the route as Class 2+ or 3. We're also providing a Google Earth image and some photos that may help visually explain this alternate, cable route and have approximated it on the CalTopo map. John Kirk of "Lists of John" also reports using this cable route and rates it as Class 2.
It should also be noted that Treasury can be much more easily climbed alone by using the descent route described below as your ascent route or from the south by way of CR734 out of Crested Butte and Yule Pass. The route from Yule Pass can be accessed by passenger car carefully driven, but a 4WD/or good clearance vehicle is best to drive to the top of Paradise Pass if you want to save elevation gain. Follow the Yule Pass trail west and then gain the SE ridge of Treasury west of the Cinnamon-Treasury saddle and follow all the way to the summit; or hike all the way to Yule Pass, then follow an old mining trail NW to an old mine site on the south ridge of the peak and ascend from there on steeper terrain. Consult the "Paradise Pass/Yule Pass" trailhead for more details.
Descent Route from Treasury back to Crystal: For the trip down, head back NW to the saddle between Treasury and Pt.13,407. From the saddle, angle down north on a series of ramps and ledges covered with small, loose rock into North Pole Basin. It's not quite as treacherous as it looks. About half way down, you may find some snowfields that you can glissade down to finish the drop into North Pole Basin, then work left (NNW) around a dividing ridge back over into the eastern fork of Bear Basin. Continue descending NNW and reconnect with your ascent route below 10,400 ft.