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Siberia Peak is very similar in rock conditions to Snowmass Mountain and Hagerman Peak. We consider it to be the little sister to Snowmass Mtn. This is mostly a 3rd class scramble on large, blocky talus with an entertaining but slow summit ridge. The good news is that the hike to this summit takes you by the beautiful Geneva Lake and up past the equally beautiful Gem Lake with classic Colorado scenery abounding all around. The peak can be easily climbed in a day from the trailhead in Lead King Basin, but 4WD with good clearance is REQUIRED to reach the basin. Those without a 4WD capable vehicle will likely have to backpack in to reach Siberia Peak.
There are two routes possible we will provide here to take to reach the Geneva Lake TH #1973 located in Lead King Basin. Both begin from the town of Marble.
From the north and the town of Carbondale, drive south on CO133 past Redstone and continue until just under a mile before the highway switchbacks and begins the climb up to McClure Pass. Turn off onto CR3 which continues as a paved road for five miles to Marble. Follow the main road east through town on multiple left-right turns to Beaver Lake. If parking a vehicle, you may be able to do so here.
From the south, take CO133 north through Paonia and Somerset and continue past Paonia Reservoir to McClure Pass. Drive on down the north side of the pass to the bottom of the valley and the switchback. About 1 mile after the switchback is the turnoff for CR3. Drive the paved road east for 5 miles to the town of Marble and continue through town on multiple left-right turns to Beaver Lake. If parking a vehicle, you may be able to do so here.
From Beaver Lake, for either access, continue driving east on CR3, aka: FR314. Pavement ends at the lake, but the graded road continues. At .7 mile measured from the west end of Beaver Lake, the road forks. Take the right fork which heads down between some cabins. The road continues a short distance and then dramatically deteriorates as it begins the climb up Daniels Hill. 4WD will become necessary here. As the hill crests out, come to an intersection of FR 314 and FR 315. (N 39° 04' 29.26" W 107° 09' 32.80") The right fork immediately drops down and begins the rugged drive to the townsite of Crystal. The left fork continues along Lost Trail Creek, climbing a significant amount and then finally drops down into Lead King Basin.
FR315/Lost Trail Creek Road/Lead King Basin Jeep Trail: This road gains a lot of elevation. The road continue east up the drainage. At about 2.5 miles it comes to the first set of switchbacks. There are 6 turns, some of which are very tight. Longer bed vehicles will have some trouble. 1.6 mile farther, the road crosses Silver Creek and shortly beyond there reaches maximum elevation at about 10,800 ft. The road continues another 2.4 miles to the Geneva Lake TH by dropping down on another series of switchbacks into Lead King Basin. There are seven switchbacks this time and again, some may be problematic for longer bed vehicles. The trailhead parking area is about 1,000 feet after the last switchback as you drive south at this point. The trailhead is not paved or even graveled very much. You could possibly vehicle camp here but back up toward the last switchback, there's a good camp area on the east side of the road. This upper road in heavier snow years may remain blocked by snowdrifts and/or avalanche debris. In 2019, it was not accessible until later in August. Inquire with either the White River NF or someone in Marble as to its condition.
For the CR314 access: From the aforementioned intersection, follow FR314 as it drops down, then cross SE on a narrow, shelf section of road where visibility ahead is obscured. Be careful about on-coming vehicles. It may be prudent to sound your car horn while navigating the shelf section to let an approaching vehicle know of your presence. Drive on past Lizard Lake and continue on the rough road across another shelf section as it drops down to join the Crystal River. Once it drops to near river level, the road continues its rugged journey to Crystal. There are usually an adequate number of pullouts if you encounter oncoming vehicles. The route is popular with ATV's, etc. On a few occasions, the road comes very close to the river. In early season runoff, this can be problematic. Again, inquire with White River NF or in the town of Marble before proceeding. There are not any very good campsite locations along the road. In 2019, there was an area of considerable avalanche damage that had been cleared off the road. The going is slow. We measured 3.8 miles to Crystal from the intersection at the top of Daniels Hill. It took about 45 minutes of driving one way. The road is slow and rough but not too bad overall. Most 4WD stock vehicles should be able to make the drive. We would not recommend trying it with anything less than a 4WD capable vehicle with at least average clearance for a 4WD.
A note about the Crystal Mill: This famous and frequently photographed location is just before coming to the village of Crystal. The property is privately owned and the owner(s) charge a fee to cross the fence to take photos, though some photos are possible form the road. There are several places to park in the vicinity.
Once you arrive in Crystal, continue driving east through town. Past town a short distance, the road switchbacks to the left, then to the right. Above the second switchback, there's a place on the right where a couple vehicle can be parked and sometimes this is used as a camping spot as well. Road conditions only get worse from here. In 2019 we managed to park our vehicle here for 3 days. Above this pullout, the road climbs very steeply on a lot of loose rock to a marked intersection. Straight ahead goes to Scofield Pass. Turn left and continue gaining elevation on the still rocky road, but not quite as loose. From Crystal, it's about a two-mile drive into Lead King Basin, to where the road crosses the North Fork of the Crystal River on a sturdy bridge. There are several camping options in the vicinity, several of which are located up the right fork of the road, just before coming to the bridge. To park at the trailhead, continue across the bridge and drive another .3/.4 mile to the trailhead parking area on the right. The trailhead parking is a little south of the trailhead coordinates provided. You can either walk north up the road a short distance to locate the trail or follow a trail directly north out of the parking area to reach the main trail, which is located near below and near the first switchback as the road begins to climb up out of Lead King Basin. Over the years this road has gained quite a reputation for its ruggedness. In some years, the potholes can seem large and deep enough to swallow a vehicle. Breaking an axle is a distinct possibility. There's a long shelf section that is mostly all rock that you're driving on. Beyond there, the road comes to a section of short, sharp, rocky ledges just before entering the basin that could easily blow out a tire. There is a good camp location just before there. In 2019, we were advised not to attempt to drive out Toyota Tundra on this road from Crystal so we parked back on the second switchback and packed in. Having hiked the entire length, we came back convinced we could have driven it. In previous years, we've also managed to get a Jeep Cherokee Sport up this road as well, carefully driven. You've been advised. You must assume full responsibility for any decision you make here. There is at least one outfit in Marble that will drive people into Lead King Basin and retrieve them. We have not used this company but you may want to consider them. Here is the link: http://www.smithfamilycolorado.com/CRJT/jeeptour.htm
There are several places to camp in Lead King Basin. On the way into the basin from Crystal, there's a good camp area that can accommodate several vehicles. The camp area is in trees and has seen frequent use. See coordinates below.
Once you enter the basin and the road splits, take the right fork and in just a very short distance, look for three large conifers on the right. They make an excellent campsite as well. This road that stays on the east side of the creek continues for a ways with several other possible campsites.
There are designated backcountry sites at Geneva Lake available on a first come- first served basis. There's a total of seven sites scattered around the lake. We were unable to locate site #6. You have to pack in the two miles from Lead King Basin to reach these campsites. They make a good launch-point for a climb of Hagerman, Snowmass Mtn. or Siberia peaks. They are as follows: Campsite 1: West side of lake at N 39° 05' 44.96" W 107° 04' 48.26". Campsite 2 on west side of lake: N 39° 05' 47.64" W 107° 04' 44.86". Campsite 3 close to #2: N 39° 05' 47.76" W 107° 04' 46.20". Campsite 4 - NW of the lake: N 39° 05' 59.87" W 107° 04' 45.64". Campsite 5 north of lake: N 39° 06' 00.29" W 107° 04' 40.97" (approximation). Campsite site we did not locate. Campsite 7 on east side of lake: N 39° 05' 51.56" W 107° 04' 31.05" (approximation).
From the parking area for the Geneva Lake TH, either walk north along the road to the bottom of the first switchback and then head off to the right to drop down a little to a trailhead kiosk where backpackers can self-register; or from the parking area, follow a trail north that parallels the road on the east side to the same kiosk. Head north up the trail from the kiosk and begin the hike to Geneva Lake. The trail is well-used and generally easy to follow, but tall vegetation borders much of it. The trail heads north for a quarter mile gaining elevation gradually, then turns west to gain more elevation, passing through some avalanche damage as of 2019. Around 10,400 to 10,600 feet, the trail weaves through several switchbacks. Enjoy the distant views of the falls along the stream that drains Geneva Lake. As the trail nears the lake, be sure and remain on the main trail that will climb well above the lake on the west side. Staying on the main trail will take hikers past campsites # 1 - #4. At campsite #4, the trail continues north, staying well above the creek down below. Older maps show a trail along the creek. That trail appears to be no longer in use.
The trail contours through a large open bowl filled wildflowers and ascends steeply to gain the bench where Little Gem Lake sits. Continue past Little Gem and continue on to Siberia Lake leaving most trees behind. You can begin the main ascent up the ESE ridge of Siberia before reaching the lake if you choose, or, if the lake is thawed out, hike to the south end and then begin your main ascent. We did not follow directly on the ESE ridge but instead ascended on a series of tundra-covered benches that led between rocky outcrops, large boulders and ares of broken rock, all of this just north of the ESE ridge and following the ridge in a somewhat parallel fashion. While gaining elevation, conditions will become progressively rocky. There will be more scrambling over large boulders and that will reach 3rd class level. The last 400 feet to the north-south summit ridge become even more difficult, but kind of entertaining.
The main summit ridge is is frequently cleft by the heads of several gullies and very large blocks of rock. Though never too difficult, it will slow progress. There's no right or wrong way to work north to the summit. You'll just have to weave in and out among the great boulders and gullies, sometimes staying on the ridge crest and other times dropping off a little to one side or the other. At one point, we dropped substantially off the ridge on the east side, traversed some northward and then had to regain the ridge crest by ascending back up a sandy gully with scattered columbine. This ridge can be kept at the Class 3 level, butchoice of route could lead to brief 4th class sections. The head of this gully was rather steep. When you arrive at the summit, you'll find it rather unattractive consisting of nothing more than a bunch of angled rock blocks and not laid out too comfortably for a lunch spot. There is however, a spectacular view of Capitol Peak to the north and Snowmass Mountain to the east. It took us about 3.5 hours to reach this summit from the trailhead parking in Lead King Basin.
For the descent, return as you came. It will likely be nearly impossible to exactly retrace your route along the summit ridge, but it should be easier to detect a way to stay on the ridge crest more. Once the descent begins off the main summit ridge, heading down will require constant large step-downs where you'l have to let yourself down with your arms at times if you do not want your knees to do all the work. You may also hear climbers over on Snowmass Mtn. as they ascend/descend. You will hear the rolling rocks the inadvertently set loose. We witnessed one such rock cut loose by a climber that was probably the size of a refrigerator! We suggest taking a look at Gary Neben's report on Mountain handbook for additional beta. See link below.
Bonus Points: A little south of Siberia Peak is an unnamed summit that falls just short of counting as one of the highest ranked 12ers. UN 12,980 Is a brief but entertaining scramble best reached from a turnoff on the trail just north of Little Gem Lake. We have a brief report about this peak on Lists of John at this link: https://www.listsofjohn.com/tr?Id=14496&pkid=141509