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LoJ: #584 (G & M: #570) / 13,081' UN 13081 Huerfanito

Quadrangle › Blanca Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 37° 35' 04.66", W 105° 27' 51.48" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Blanca Peak Peak Icon Mount Lindsey

Peak Summary

Note: G&M ranked this peak as #570 and identified as "UN13100 D" with an elevation of 13,100 ft. This may have been arrived at using an interpolated elevation for the summit north of the 13,081 marker? Roach & LoJ stick with the USGS map elevation marker of 13,081. 

UN 13,081 (Huerfanito  Pk.) is a class 2 summit with just a little bit of rock scrambling to reach the high point. It is accessed from the Lily Lake TH along Huerfano Creek, NNE of Blanca Peak. This is the same access as the traditional approach for Mt. Lindsey. Reaching the actual trailhead requires 4WD, otherwise, you'll have to stop and park at least two miles back. Much of the route to UN 13,081 utilizes the Mt. Lindsey approach trail. 

UN 13,081 Huerfano Ck Approach Route

Class 2
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Lily Lake/Huerfano Creek TH: 6.5 mi / 2,380'
  • Trailhead
    • Lily Lake/Huerfano Creek TH

      Please Note: During the summer of 2015, a landslide closed the road that leads to the Lily Lake Trailhead, and surrounding private property made it illegal to attempt to find another way around that landslide. Reports from summer of 2016 indicated that a temporary road was built around the landslide and vehicle access to the trailhead had resumed. It should not be assumed however, that this access will remain open. Further damage could result in closure again. It would be best to contact the Forest Service regarding road condition before planning a trip into here. Call 719-269-8500 for the Pueblo/San Carlos ranger district for more information. 

      From I-25, take exit #52 west and turn onto SH69 that goes through Gardner to Westcliffe. Drive to Gardner and then on the west side of the small town, the road makes a turn north. About a half mile west out of town, after the highway has made that turn north, take a left turn onto CR 550, aka: The Mosca Pass Road. (If coming from Westcliffe, you will reach this intersection before arriving in Gardner.) Shortly after making this turn, a Forest Service sign indicates the Upper Huerfano TH to be 21.5 miles. In 7 miles, the road turns to graded gravel. In another 4.8 miles stay left onto FS580. In 3.4 more miles, the road enters an area of private property with a sign indicating Forest Access. Another sign here indicates the Upper Huerfano Th to be another 5.3 miles. In .5 mile after entering the private property, stay left at the entrance to the Singing River Ranch. The road narrows but remains passable for 2WD. In another .9 mile, pass the entrance to the Aspen River Ranch. The road narrows more and becomes more rough. From the Aspen River ranch, it's 4.2 more miles to signs for the Huerfano and Zapata Trails, however, you will come to the landslide damage before then. When you reach the landslide damage, if in 2WD, you should park here. Only 4WD with good clearance should continue on the re-routed road. Continue 2 more miles to the Lily Lake TH for the upper valley summits or stop at the Huerfano TH for California Peak at these coordinates: N 37° 38' 20"  W 105° 28' 16". In these last couple miles, there are at-large camping opportunities and some camping room at the trailhead as well. 


      Camping

      At-large campsites on National Forest land are available the last couple miles to the trailhead. Make sure you are not attempting to camp on any of the private property. There are a couple of fairly nice spots just beyond the Huerfano-Zapata TH. See coordinates below.


      Campsite Locations

      Huerfano Creek › N 37° 38' 13.43", W 105° 28' 16.50"
      10,230 elevation
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN 13,081 Huerfano Ck Approach

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2009

    Note: It may be advisable to supplement our description with that posted on 14ers.com since much of the Huerfano route follows the Mt. Lindsey standard route. The Lily Lake trail takes out through forest and then quickly arrives at a large meadow which we found filled with bright yellow flowers in one area in 2009.  There is little elevation gain so you can move quickly. After the trail leaves the meadow, it re-enters the forest and continues to the turnoff for Lily Lake to the right after a mile. Do not go up the Lily Lake trail. Remain on the lower valley trail another 100 yards or so. The trail for Lindsey will cross the river here. There is no bridge or logs, usually, so this will likely be a wader unless later in the season.  The trail up Lindsey, once faint when we climbed it many years ago (prior to 1983) is now well established (2009). It first parallels the river for another quarter mile, then pulls steadily up through forest, following on the north side of a tributary drainage to the Huerfano River with a talus field on your left. After one fairly steep section, it opens into the upper, tundra filled basin. Mount Lindsey lays off to the SE and peeks above the eastern skyline while Blanca Peak dominates the view to the SW. The Blanca-Ellingwood headwall is indeed very impressive. 

    As you head up the tundra valley, you may see some animals moving about. We cautiously approached them using small hills as a barrier to conceal our approach. The animals turned out to be Bighorn Sheep and there was a substantial group of them numbering over a dozen. Among them were several young sheep – at least three of which we were able to obtain a nice photo of. It turns out our caution was unwarranted. Probably because of the heavy and regular human traffic in this area climbing Mt. Lindsey, these sheep had become tolerant of humans and allowed us to approach rather closely. So we snapped numerous shots and then continued on our way up the tundra-filled valley to near the foot of Huerfanito. 

    As you head on up the wide, tundra valley, Huerfanito presents a difficult looking north face with cliffs ranging 200 – 300 feet high, mostly toward the eastern end of the summit block. To avoid these cliffs, angle SW and then west and gain a saddle on the very prominent NNW ridge that extends off the peak. Once at this saddle, enjoy a very dramatic view back down the valley. There was also a great photo opportunity to catch Blanca with a prominent prow forming a backdrop. 

    From the saddle, turn south and southeast, walking on almost all broken rock and talus for the next 400 feet toward the summit ridge. You will encounter a little bit of rock scrambling as you push upward. Then you will come to what you may assume to be the final section to the summit. When you arrive at what you suppose to be the summit, (probably the 13,081 point on the USGS map), you will see that there is an eastern summit which appears higher. Walk along the rocky terrain toward the high point. This higher summit is more tenuous and a feels more exposed. Soak in the amazing view sandwiched between three enormous 14ers. 

    From the summit, here is a different way to take back down. Scramble down on very loose, smaller rock to the ESE, dropping into a shallow bowl with possibly a snow bank still intact. This is nearly a 500 foot drop on rather unstable rock.From the small bowl, stroll over to the saddle that delineates Huerfanito from Iron Nipple and Mount Lindsey. It is in the vicinity of this saddle that you can reconnect with the Mount Lindsey trail. We hiked on by an unmarked tarn that offered some nice reflection of the surrounding mountains and paused for some photos here, then continued on down. For the remainder of the trip, just follow the trail back to the Lily Lake TH, or you may want to consider heading north along the ridge to tag 13,828, Huerfano Peak. Total round-trip hiking time was a little over an easy 6 hours. 


    Additional BETA

    Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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