UN13,548/Kuss Peak is a "soft-rank" summit along the Mosquito Pass divide that can be accessed from either the east or west side of Mosquito Pass. Using the road to the pass from either side, this summit is a Class 1 hike over mostly smaller scree and rubble. 4WD vehicles with excellent clearance can get you to the top of the pass from which Kuss Peak is a brief walk about 2/3rds mile north up the ridge. Passenger vehicles will have to park at lower elevation and the hike will cover several miles from either side.
Kuss Pk from Mosquito Pass Route
RT From Mosquito Pass TH (West):
From I-70 at Copper Mountain, take State Highway 91 across Fremont Pass to Leadville. In Leadville, turn east onto East 7th Street from the "downtown" area which will become CR3 and drive to the vicinity of Diamond and Mountain Lakes. The road is well-maintained and easily passable for passenger cars up to about 11,200' near some old mines, after this point, it quickly becomes rough & rocky. Vehicles with higher clearance may be able to proceed further, depending on the driver's disposition. We suggest parking out of the way by driving on a spur road toward the Conley Lakes. See TH coordinates, or park where convenient or where the road begins to become even rougher before it begins its climb to the pass (approx. 12,000').
If attempting to 4-wheel all the way up the pass, the road is decently passable (although relentlessly rocky) in stock high-clearance 4x4s up to a switchback at 12,440'. The section of road between the two switchbacks located at 12,440' & 12,600' is the roughest section on this side of the pass. The switchback at 12,600' has deteriorated in recent years and, depending on current conditions, stock SUVs may scrape bottom a bit going over a few rocks here. We hiked this road in 2015 and saw a Ford F-150, Nissan XTerra, and stock Jeep Wrangler all navigate this section, but none did so without contacting rock on the undercarriage at some point. Past this point the road remains quite narrow with very few pull-offs, but the degree of difficulty relents a bit as it approaches the summit.
Also, after the last switchback, there is a spur road that heads off to the right and in a SSE direction to access some radio tower facilities. In 1989, it was possible to drive this road all the way to the central ridge and begin hiking from there. Current condition of that road is unknown.
Along CR 3, you may be able to find a place to park overnight, but be careful about Private Property all through this area.
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Year Climbed: 1989
Kuss Peak is the first summit in a sequence that also includes Mosquito Peak and Treasurevault Mtn. When we did this route in 1989, we were able to drive to the summit of Mosquito Pass in our Jeep Cherokee, however, mileage and elevation gain presented here will be measured from the suggested parking at the Conley Lakes for those who either do not have 4WD or do not want to put their vehicle through the rigors of the upper switchbacks of Mosquito Pass. We hiked over Kuss Peak on our way to Mosquito, Treasurevault, Tweto and Arkansas. The route we are presenting here will take hikers as far as Treasurevault. See Tweto and Arkansas for another route description for those summits that avoids gaining Mosquito Pass.
From the vehicle park at or near the Conley Lakes, start walking east up the Mosquito Pass road or walk off the road on the side of your choice. The road soon becomes much rougher. The road leads toward a low pass just above 12,000 ft. where it begins gaining elevation more seriously. At 12,200 feet, the switchbacks begin. You could keep walking the road but it may be easier to get off and walk more directly east going up a mostly tundra & scree slope and bypassing the first three switchbacks. This way you can avoid the rubble on the road. It's probably best to intersect the road at the 4th switchback and at that point, follow it to the pass summit at 13,186 ft. From there, Kuss Peak is a simple stroll north up the ridge to the summit of Kuss Peak. The terrain is mostly scree, chiprock and smaller rubble and sparse tundra. At the summit, there is what we presume to be a communication facility of some sort. Please do not disturb any of the equipment and simply keep a safe distance away.
If you have no interest in doing Kuss, but want to bypass it to reach Mosquito, there's an old mining road that contours below the Kuss summit on the west side. When it forks, stay on the left/lower fork. The same road will lead to the Kuss/Mosquito saddle, and also continues north, contouring below Mosquito to the Mosquito/Treasurevault saddle. Following the road offers no better conditions than hiking the ridge as far as the rock is concerned.
From the summit of Kuss Peak, either continue on our suggested route to Mosquito and Treasurevault or return as you came.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
Mountain Handbook ›
Kuss Peak 13548
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"The competition is not even with the mountain or the rock face. You are competing instead with yourself - with your protesting body, your nerves, and, when the going gets really tough, with your reserves of character." Al Alvarez "A Test of Will"