LoJ: #444 (G & M: #443) UN 13244

Range › Elks Range
Quadrangle › Highland Peak
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 08' 18.41", W 106° 58' 04.30" (Not Field Checked)
Neighboring Peaks › Peak Icon Willoughby Mountain

Peak Summary

UN13,244 is located on a ridge that connects to the top of the "Big Burn" area of the Snowmass Ski Area. Nevertheless, our suggested weekend, overnight backpack approach up East Snowmass Creek offers a chance to visit a less frequented area and climb at least two 13ers. If you have time, two more 13ers lie at the head of this valley. The Snowmass Creek TH is start for this hike and is accessible by most passenger cars. The climb of UN13,244 is a steep Class 2 followed by easy Class 1.  

UN13,244 W & N Ridges Route

Class 2
backpacker icon + Peak Icon
Backpack + Short Day
RT From Snowmass Creek TH: 11.6 mi / 4,845'
RT From Campsite @ 11,160: 3.6 mi / 2,085'
  • Trailhead
    • Snowmass Creek TH

      From highway 82 between Basalt and Aspen, turn south at the lighted intersection at the town of "Snowmass" (about 4 miles south of Basalt) and drive about 2 miles to an intersection where you must turn either left or right. Take the left fork and drive east and south on N690. The road is paved another 4 - 5 miles, then becomes, good quality, graded dirt for another 4 miles to where it crosses Snowmass Creek. Beyond the creek crossing, the road climbs uphill to another intersection. Turn right and proceed south on a less maintained road to the trailhead just a few more hundred yards. As you drive that last segment, you will first pass a trailhead for East Snowmass Creek, then a short distance later, you come to the end of the road and the parking and trailhead for the Snowmass Creek trail.

      Over summer weekends, this TH may be filled to capacity with cars parked along the road in. The main parking area serves as the only designated parking for both Snowmass Creek and East Snowmass Creek. No designated camping here, so only vehicle camping, though when the parking is not so crowded, you may be able to pitch a tent nearby. No vault toilets, but at the register, ReStops are provided for use, free of charge. Further access on the road is blocked by a locked gate that marks the property boundary for Snowmass Falls Ranch. Cattle may be close by and the odor can sometimes be strong.

    Approach Map
    • From Snowmass Creek TH via Campsite @ 11,160

      We are using the Snowmass Creek trailhead as the start for this easy backpack approach. You will be better off parking your vehicle there than trying to find a place to cram it in right at the E. Snowmass Creek TH start, which you passed on your drive in to the Snowmass Creek TH. Just walk back a quarter mile on the road to begin your trip. On the White River NF map, the trail number for East Snowmass Creek is 1977 and heads south to eventually go over a pass into Willow Lake Basin. This approach will take you about 3/5ths of the distance to that pass. This trip that nets two 13ers in a less-often visited area of the Elk Mountains, works very well as an "overnight," weekend backpack. Pack in on day one and climb one of the peaks, then day two, climb the other and pack out.

      The backpack in is uneventful and takes about two and a half hours. The trail starts out fairly steep as it gains the upper valley and the creek drainage. It climbs about 600 feet in the first half mile and after that begins to taper off. From a starting elevation of 8,400 ft., backpack to an elevation of about 11,160 ft. The trail is well-used but not too entrenched or rocky and you should have no trouble following it, even when it passes through willowy areas. Some of the vegetation when we were there in early September was beginning to show signs of fall with hints of changing colors. After passing through the wide swath of an avalanche path that comes off of Willoughby and an open meadow by the creek, the trail enters back in some forest and begins to climb more steeply as it departs close proximity to the creek and gains elevation for the upper basin. Just where the trail enters the forest and begins this climb, we found a very nice, unoccupied campsite, nestled in the trees with plenty of protection from the rain. Set up your camp and if the weather is holding, we suggest climbing Willoughby Peak first, since it is right above this campsite.


      Camping

      See approximate coordinates provided.

      Campsite Locations

      Willoughby Campsite N 39° 08' 54", W 106° 58' 55"

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    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info UN13,244 W & N Ridges

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2009

    From the suggested campsite at 11,160 ft., hike back down the trail just a little, then cross the meadow to the creek and head up a fan-shaped talus slope that comes off of Baldy Mountain and holds a small drainage. The fan-shaped talus slope, lower down is covered in tundra and grass, then higher up, willows. Walk up the tundra and then enter some willows heading for a round clearing filled with red talus on the right side of the fan and partway up. Cross the open talus, re-enter the willows and then emerge out of them on the edge of a shallow, talus-filled gully that sweeps down from the mountain on the right side of the fan. From here, walk up the gully, staying right on the edge of the willows where there is some tundra, which is more comfortable to walk on than the talus in the gully itself. Follow the edge of this gully upward for a few hundred vertical feet until you are above and across from some cliff bands topped by a minor, tundra-covered ridge.

    Cross the talus-filled gully, clamber out to the right and contour on a scree covered slope until you get to the tundra ridge above the maroon cliffs. From here, hike directly up the ridge that follows a SE bearing for about 600 feet in elevation until it intersects the main, west ridge of Baldy. The lower section of this route is primarily a tundra/grass mix which gives way to more scree than tundra. Another 400 feet of gain will bring you to the foot of Baldy, an unranked 13er summit, with an unusual formation at the end facing you. Around here, we were looking back down toward our campsite and spotted a group of goats, lounging on a promontory several hundred feet down from us. There were at least nine that came out in our photos. They had probably been watching us for some time and keeping their distance. You never know who might be watching you on these wilderness climbs!

    As you hike up to the foot of Baldy, begin contouring south and walk across a saddle on kind of loose, scree type terrain with some tundra. UN13,244 will lay along the main ridge to the south about 2/3rd of a mile away. There is nothing to really impede your progress other than one minor, false summit just to the north of UN 13,244. Most of the walking is on the maroon scree with tundra mixed in. The final summit is on the gray, intrusive rock common to the area. Enjoy some impressive views of Pyramid Peak to the east and Snowmass Mountain and Capitol Peak to the west. The upper valley of East Snowmass Creek is a verdant, tundra basin surrounded by the colorful maroon and gray rock so dominant in the Elks. It took us about 2 hours to gain this summit. Descend as you came.


    Additional BETA

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