Our route described here is best suited for West Slope hikers, but the trailhead access for Front Range hikers, involves probably little more driving time than taking the long dirt road up Halfmoon Creek out of Leadville.
From the trailhead, walk north on the old roadbed and find a place to ford the creek. Once across, follow an old jeep track north into a clearing with some old mine tailings. Locate a trail that continues north, then turns east climbing into the trees. This trail continues well-defined up into Lackawanna Gulch. Eventually, it fades in the higher meadows as you approach timberline. When the drainage splits, follow the left fork to a high basin and a pass at 12,460 ft. Pick up an old jeep track at the pass that leads down into the Halfmoon Creek drainage all the way to the "Champion Mill." Either walk the old track or blaze your own path across the tundra. The "mill" is still a prominent building easily seen from all over this valley and 20 years ago, when we did this climb, was in fairly good condition.
From the mill, or perhaps a higher contour/traverse to save elevation loss, walk through forest to the north, crossing two minor drainages and head to the east side of a basin just above 12,000 ft. With the open view of the south face of K 49 here, chart a path of least resistance to the summit. The 1,500 feet of gain looks a little daunting but much of it goes on tundra with broken rock higher up that becomes progressively more unstable. We came out on the west ridge at about 13,200 ft. and then walked on more stable terrain to the summit, arriving at about noon with a 7:00 AM start. We lost a good 45 minutes this day trying to find a dry crossing of the North Fork of Lake Creek, back at the trailhead. It was early season, there was a lot of snow even down into the trees and the creek was raging. If you do this hike early in the season, an ice axe may be handy.
From the summit of this seemingly insignificant peak dwarfed by its surrounding neighbors, you'll enjoy commanding views of both 14ers and higher 13ers all around. The terrain is typical of the Sawatch. For the return hike, retrace your route back to the trailhead.