LoJ: #406 (G & M: #404) / 13,294' UN 13294 The Citadel

Range › Front Range
Quadrangle › Loveland Pass
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 39° 42' 55.15", W 105° 54' 41.43" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

UN13,294, "The Citadel," offers a short day-climb route for Front Range peakbaggers. While most of the hike is generally easy Class 2 terrain and close to I-70, the split summit offers some brief Class 3 scrambling opportunity and in early season, the final summit approach can also offer a little ice axe work as well. This is a nice summit for learning mountaineers to hone their skills on. The approach to the summit also provides abundant wildflower viewing and either of the two possible trailheads can be accessed by passenger vehicles off I-70.

The Citadel SE Ridge Route

Class 3
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From Dry Gulch: 6.5 mi / 2,700'
  • Trailhead
    • Dry Gulch Trailhead

      Warning: If using this trailhead on summer weekends, expect the parking situation to become crowded. If coming west from the Front Range on I-70, drive two miles past Exit 218 for Herman Gulch, and take exit 216 marked as the turnoff for US6 and Loveland Pass. When you exit, drive just a short distance and then watch for a gravel road on your right that parallels the exit road. Make a sharp right onto this gravel road, reversing direction of travel and drive back a bout a half mile to a gate across the road. Park along the roadside and begin your hike here.

      If coming from the west on I-70, you will need to drive on east through the Eisenhower tunnel, then take the exit immediately after exiting the tunnel and drop down to a stop sign. At the stop sign, make a left and drive along the old US 6 to another intersection where you will make another left and cross under the interstate. Drive a very short distance NE to where the road you are on makes a sharp turn to the right and accesses the westbound interstate. Right where the road makes that turn, look for the access to the gravel road that parallels the interstate exit ramp. Drive the half mile along the gravel road to the gate mentioned above and park. 


      Camping

      There are no designated camp locations close by. However, a short distance up Dry Gulch puts you on National Forest land where you could find plenty of primitive camping if you don't mind packing in some gear a short ways. You could probably try and sleep in your vehicle at the trailhead, but traffic noise all night long would probably keep you awake. For Front Range hikers, this trailhead is so close, most will not need to camp. Camping will be more of an issue for hikers coming from the western slope. 

    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info The Citadel SE Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2012

    Notice: Google Earth always has difficulty handling in any way that resembles accuracy, summits that are very vertical and rocky in nature with cliffs, etc. Because of that, we were unable to obtain any GE measurement of the summit elevation that even came close to the USGS map. This would also suggest that the coordinates we are providing for the summit, may be off substantially. Use our coordinates with caution and good sense, since they are not field checked and/or, cross reference over to other sites. 

    From the car park, walk NNE up the road and through the gate. Continue NNE and the road will gradually turn north, turning away from the interstate in about a third of a mile. The road gently ascends north to a crossing of Dry Creek. Just past this crossing is a large storage area with a wooden fence guarding the contents. The road quickly diminishes after here to a 4WD track and in another half mile or less, turns into a trail. The survey map doesn’t indicate this, but numerous willows occupy the valley bottom of Dry Gulch along the creek, so the trail skirts well to the north of the creek trying to avoid these willows. In about a half mile up from the “storage” area, we began following a fainter trail that led us more upward below the slopes of UN 12,671. After a short while, we lost the trail and continued in a WNW direction toward the basin below the SE slopes of Citadel. For the most part, we avoided any trees. As we accessed the tundra slopes higher up, we encountered some nice rivulets and early flowers which delayed us as we spent some time photographing, then continued on up the basin. We headed toward a trail that took us up to the 12,020 ft. saddle on the ridge east of the Citadel summit.

    From near the saddle continue on upward on easy, moderately steep, tundra terrain to where the east and south ridge converge. Continue NW to the great wall/barrier that the summit block forms. At this point, we followed a trail that led us somewhat downward and crossed below some cliffs and  the head of a gully or two, heading generally NW, but remaining on the west/south side of the peak. The faint trail led us into a very steep, narrow gully that was fairly clean, but had some hard snow near the top. With some care, proceed up the gully and crest out at a saddle that splits the two equally high summits of Citadel. There will finally be an opportunity to get out of the wind here if they are present. High winds along Front Range peaks are a common occurrence. 

    Because both summits appear to be of equal height, most climbers will want to tag both. To access the east summit from this saddle there is a short, 15 foot rock wall that is easily dispensed with a low 4th class maneuver (some rate it as Class 3+). Rope not necessary with some spotting from above or below. Once above it, it's just some rock hopping to the airy summit that drops precipitously on the north side into Herman Gulch. After taking in the view and studying the route for the NW summit, scamper back down to the saddle.  From the saddle follow a natural, somewhat green ramp that ascends upward, to the north, in the direction of the rocky summit. It is at the most, some 3rd class scrambling and soon, you will find yourself on the other summit. Take turns surmounting the highest block of rock here. It can be so windy that it may be somewhat dangerous to try to stand on this small rock pinnacle. Most will prefer to simply set their rear on the top. On both the east and west sides of this summit block there are severe, exposed drops of hundreds of feet. Both summits provide some nice panoramic views of the Front Range peaks in this area. 

    For the descent, return as you came. On the way back into Dry Gulch, try to take the time to enjoy the abundant wildflowers. Others may wish to include either Hagar Mountain to the south or Pettingell Peak to the north in their summits efforts. Both offer some difficult ridge work. Pettingell will require a rope for rappel. There's a good account on SummitPost. There's also a good account of the Hagar-Citadel traverse on 14ers.com. See links below. It may also be possible to complete a multi-summit climb on a good day and include Golden Bear/UN13,010. 

    It should also be noted that The Citadel can also be just as easily accessed from Herman Gulch. In that case, you would use the directions for the Herman Gulch/Watrous Gulch Trailhead and walk up Herman Gulch. Again, you can find useful reports on this approach on some other sites. The weekend parking at either trailhead can be crowded. Plan on arriving early. 


    Additional BETA

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