LoJ: #498 (G & M: #501) / 13,180' UN 13180 Mount Valhalla

Range › Gore Range
Quadrangle › Willow Lakes
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 39' 40.79", W 106° 13' 05.40" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

Mt. Valhalla climbed as a traverse from Grand Traverse Peak (UN13,041) is a Class 2+ ridge walk with just minor scrambling through some troughs and over some rocky points. It can also be ascended directly from Deluge Lake. The Deluge Lake trailhead is accessible to any passenger car. Reaching Mt. Valhalla involves a steep trail hike of over 4 miles one way before beginning the main ascent. We have sequenced Valhalla with Grand Traverse Peak as part of a backpack trip that also picks up Snow Peak and Mt. Silverthorne (Willow BM).

Mt. Valhalla West Ridge Route

Class 2+
backpacker icon + Peak Icon Peak Icon
Backpack + Medium Day
Climbed with "Grand Traverse Peak"
RT From Deluge Lake/Gore Creek TH: 12.25 mi / 5,225'
RT From Deluge Lake with "Grand Traverse Peak": 3.25 mi / 2,175'
From "Grand Traverse Peak": 1.25 mi / 850' (One-Way)
  • Trailhead
    • Deluge Lake/Gore Creek TH

      From either direction on I-70, take exit 180 about 4 miles east of the main town exit for Vail. As you exit, go south and onto Big Horn Road. Drive east on that road 2.3 miles through condo and residential village to the trailhead. Big Horn Road will turn NE and cross under the interstate, then make a broad curve to the east and SE. Parking for the trailhead is on that curve. Just a short distance past the trailhead is the entrance to the Gore Creek Campground. There may be some more shoulder parking on the road just beyond the CG. A little more past there, the road is barred from vehicular traffic and becomes the bike trail over Vail Pass. On weekends, the available parking fills beyond capacity. Arrive early if you want to park close to the trailhead.

      Camping

      Just east of the trailhead parking is the Gore Creek Campground, a National Forest Service fee area with vault toilets and water. Reservations may be made for campsites at www.reserveamerica.com. Other than that, there is virtually no other place close by with at-large/primitive camping. Your best bet may be to go up to the summit of Vail Pass and drive down the Black Lakes Road where there is a pullout parking area right where the road is barred from vehicular traffic and becomes the Vail Pass bike trail, east end. This is not a primitive camp location but you may be able to sleep in your vehicle.

      Campsite Locations

      Gore Crek CG › N 39° 37' 37.14", W 106° 16' 26.33"
      Fee required. 8750 elevation. Lots of interstate traffic noise.
    Approach Map Photos
    • From Deluge Lake/Gore Creek TH via Deluge Lake & "Grand Traverse Peak":

      • Deluge Lake Trail  Moderate | RT: 9 mi / 3,050’

        Of the five trails that begin from near Vail and head generally north into the Gore, four are initially very steep as they climb out of the valley. Only the Gore Creek trail avoids this problem, but there are two trails that take off from this trailhead location and they are now joined at one start at the upper end of the parking lot. A short distance up the trail is a register where you should stop to sign in if overnight permits are required. Head up the Deluge Lake Trail, #2014, for an unrelentingly steep hike.

        Turning onto the Deluge Lake trail, you will first find yourself heading west and somewhat downhill for a while before the trail turns abruptly to the ENE and begins the long, gruesome, relentless climb. In two miles, the trail gains about 2,300 feet in elevation! With fully loaded packs, there is no way to make this fun or remotely enjoyable. In addition, the highway noise from I-70 far below, carries up the canyon and proves highly annoying until you finally turn out of the main drainage and head up the Deluge Creek drainage. There are a few switchbacks on the lower end of the trail, and then some others near the higher end, just before it starts to level out some. In between, it is extremely steep and it will be a footing problem on your way back down and out with lots of loose dirt & gravel. Hiking back down, as you encounter day-hikers coming up, you will likely not see too many smiling, cheerful faces. Most will have this look of "Why didn't they tell me this trail was so steep?"

        Above the higher switchbacks the trail begins to level out some and takes you across a small creek, through a brief fern forest, across some talus and then on to a nice meadow, still well above the main Deluge Creek. Continue on, passing through more forest and then coming to Deluge Creek, after having crossed a subtle ridge and losing a little elevation. Cross the creek and continued parallel to it, having now broken out into more open meadow. Ahead, you can see the higher bench that harbors Deluge Lake. We had thought we might see a good campsite in this stretch but not seeing one, we found ourselves going all the way to the lake. It took us just over 3 hours with breaks to pack up there. The lake is a beautiful location, half surrounded by Grand Traverse, Mt. Valhalla and Snow Peak, and half by the open tundra of this upper bench. Some nice groups of campanula graced the trail approaching the lake when we packed in in early August. It was blissful solitude there on a weekday.



        Camping

        We spent extra time trying to locate a good campsite, but at the lake, there is no tree cover, so we had to settle for a somewhat exposed site, down south from the lake a bit, and about 100 yards east of an unoccupied cabin. See our approximate coordinates for that site. There were a few very low conifers there.


        Campsite Locations

        Deluge Lake Camp N 39° 39' 14.44", W 106° 13' 34.26"
        Elevation 11,750 ft.

        Open This Approach in a New Window
      • Grand Traverse PK SE Slope  Class 2 / 1.0 mi / 1,325’ One-Way


        From Deluge Lake cross the lake outlet to the west side and circle around to the north end of the lake where you begin your ascent on mostly tundra adjacent to some rock/scree, to a saddle, almost directly north of the lake, at 12,420 ft. Though steep, the hike up to the saddle is fairly easy. Lower down, there is clear trail evidence that fades as you hike higher. The trail leads through some lush growth, offering wildflower viewing. At the saddle turn west and continue your ascent on tundra giving way to talus and rock until you arrive at the summit. There's a little bit of rock scrambling along the summit crest. It took us one hour from our camp location at Deluge Lake to gain the summit. We debated that this may have been the easiest Gore summit we had done if you discount the rugged backpack in.

        From this summit, and along the hike up, you have very good views of the ridge between Grand Traverse Peak and North Traverse Peak. This ridge is often referred to as "The Grand Traverse" and offers an interesting and challenging route of 3rd and 4th class scrambling. A preferred route for doing this traverse is to hike up Bighorn Creek, ascend N. Traverse first, head south along the ridge to Grand Traverse Peak and then either exit down Deluge Creek where you've stashed another vehicle (or perhaps bike) at the trailhead, or descend back down into the Bighorn Creek drainage and pick up the trail to return to the same start. If interested, be sure and see Gary Neben's report on the Mountain Handbook link provided below. Also, this traverse is written up in Dave Cooper's book, "Colorado Scrambles."

        If timing and weather permit, consider proceeding on to Mt. Valhalla, a long mile ridge traverse to the east. Surprisingly, that traverse can be completed in a little over an hour.

        Open This Route in a New Window
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info Mt. Valhalla West Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2012

    Mt. Valhalla is sequenced with Grand Traverse Peak (UN13,041). One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of Grand Traverse. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assumes completion of the sequence. The sequence mileage is measured from a campsite a little south of Deluge Lake.

    The ridge connection to Mt. Valhalla from Grand Traverse Peak is fairly straightforward, even though it appears to have several complications. At times there is even some trail. When not on the ridge crest, we always stayed on the south side. The initial section goes quickly on tundra and then you get into some gullies and a little bit of some rock work and up & down stuff, but there is never anything real intimidating or that should slow you much. There is one little steep upclimb to gain a minor saddle that is just west of the summit where a minor, no-count, rocky pinnacle will draw your attention. The final summit block is some class 2+ scrambling over solid rock. From Grand Traverse Peak, the ridge traverse took us 1:15. The views again of the entire Gore Range, stretching to the north and south are remarkable, even though the atmosphere can be rather hazy. If drawn to the minor rocky pinnacle just NW of the summit, that is a 15 minute 3rd class scramble.

    On the way back down, retrace your steps to the saddle by the pinnacle. From the saddle, descend down south on loose scree and dirt, then veer to the right to get on some more solid footing tundra. Avoid an entrenched gully by passing on the right and then follow tundra on down into a curving drainage that will lead back to lake level and your campsite if you have made this trip into a backpack. For an account of a Valhalla-Snow Peak traverse, follow either of the links below.


    Additional BETA

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