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LoJ: #320 (G & M: #321) / 13,401' White Benchmark

Range › Elks Range
Quadrangle › Gothic
Summit Location › Peak Route Icon N 38° 58' 24.47", W 106° 55' 39.95" (Not Field Checked)

Peak Summary

A fairly long 4WD access followed by a scenic hike into the upper basin of West Brush Creek and a finish on a Class 2+ ridge. Lots of wildflowers & possible mountain goat siting.

White BM South Ridge Route

Class 2+
Medium Day // Take a Lunch
RT From West Brush Creek TH - Elk Mtns.: 7 mi / 3,000'
  • Trailhead
    • West Brush Creek TH - Elk Mtns.

      From the Town of Gunnison: Turn north at the center of town on HWY 135. Pass through Almont and continue toward Crested Butte. About 2 miles before reaching the town, (between mile markers 24 and 25) turn right (north) onto CR738 which also becomes FR738. This is locally known as the "Pearl Pass Road" and also accesses the local airport. The road starts out paved, then changes to graded gravel after one mile. It initially passes through a subdivision. Before turning off the highway, you'll have outstanding views of Teocalli Mtn. Passenger cars can make it in the first 4 - 5 miles to a little past the junction where the East River comes in. At 2.3 miles in from the highway, there's a newer trailhead called the "Brush Creek TH." Most will want to continue driving past here. At 4.5 miles stay left where a private road turns off. The intersection of the Pearl Pass Road and the West Brush Creek Road comes at 5.3 miles from the highway as we measured. Just before FR 738 begins to gain elevation, and shortly after (.2 mile) FR738.2A turns off for West Brush Creek, there is a primitive camp area on the right. Passenger cars should be parked here. If not parking a passenger car, turn left onto FR738.2A which heads NE on higher slopes above West Brush Creek. This initial half mile has numerous potholes. The road turns a more northerly direction after about half a mile, stay right at 6.2 miles, there's a gate at 6.4 miles and the road stays well above West Brush Creek for the next mile before dropping down to and crossing the creek at 7.3 miles. At 6.7 and 6.9 miles there are some possible campsites. There is an excellent campsite here. The creek crossing requires driving through West Brush Creek so in early season this may be a problem. 

      Continue on the east side of the creek now for another1.7 miles appx. to the end of the road. There is no formal parking area - just a grassy, open knoll after climbing steeply up a section of road that passes through willows. This last two miles will be the slowest mainly because of potholes. We did not find too many rocky obstacles on a drive up here in 2011 and again in 2019, but some minor drainage crossings proved to offer some clearance problems for some vehicles. There's another nice campsite at 8.4 miles and a less used one at 8.8 miles. The road ends about .2 mile after that. Much of the 4 mile drive in passes through open, grassy terrain.

      It should be noted that this trailhead can also serve as a TH for Teocalli. From the end of the road, if you hike along the trail that heads up West Brush Creek, in a few tenths of a mile a trail heads off to the right at the wilderness boundary. (N 38° 56' 51.68"  W 106° 53' 34.46") The trail which does not show on either the USGS quad, or the Gunnison NF map, heads east from a trail junction to the south ridge of Teocalli ("Teocalli Ridge" on the USGS map) and crosses the ridge at 11,100 ft. Head north from that saddle for an easy Class 2 hike to the summit on a trail that eventually fades away below some minor cliff bands. Mountain bikes use this trail as an access to Teocali Ridge. 


      There are no formal, forest service campgrounds either along the West Brush Creek Road or the Pearl Pass Road. There are however, a good number of primitive sites to be enjoyed. We have provided mileages above to help campers & hikers locate a place to stay. 

      Campsite Locations

      Campsite #1 › N 38° 53' 48.90", W 106° 53' 05.64"
      Shortly past where FR738.2A turns off from FR738 (The Pearl Pass Road), there is a frequently used primitive camp area on the right. Elevation 9,180 ft.
      Campsite #2 › N 38° 55' 17.11", W 106° 52' 44.71"
      Is a little over 2 miles in on FR738.2A (the West Brush Creek Road) and comes just before the road crosses from the west side to the east side of West Brush Creek. Elevation 96.15 ft.
      Campsite #3 › N 38° 56' 23.60", W 106° 53' 03.63"
      At about 9,900 feet elevation, before the West Brush Creek road makes its final climb to the TH. Select your own primitive site somewhere in this vicinity with some good trees for shelter. Elevation 9,920 ft.
    Peak Icon Route Map Photos

    Route Info White BM South Ridge

    Route Description

    Year Climbed: 2011

    From the trailhead, a trail leads north to NW on the east side of the creek for about ½ mile before it begins to fade. Before entering a forested area, cross the creek where the trail comes very near to it and head up an open slope, not too steep, staying near the edge of the forest. After about 400 feet of gain, head into the forest and work your way through the forest into the upper basin of West Brush Creek. You may at times see something of a trail in here. Pass along the foot of a rock glacier where more trail may be evident and eventually intersect the creek and continue along the drainage, to the end of the trees, hopefully finding a trail again that also heads NW to a saddle between White BM and a minor 12er of 12,728 to the south of White. Follow this trail to the saddle between White BM and UN12,728. Most of this upper basin hike will be on the faint trail and tundra. Wildflowers abound all around here, especially a very red variety of paintbrush.

    Once at the saddle, turn north and begin following the ridge crest to the summit. Along the way you'll encounter a few rock outcrops. At one particular outcrop, the droppings left behind by mountain goats are a couple of inches deep. Keep your eye out for them. Continue up the ridge that gradually turns to more rock & small boulder rubble. Finish on the rocky summit. Contemplate the trip over to White Rock Mountain if you wish, but be warned, it's a difficult traverse. Descend by the same ridge, or shortcut your descent by heading more directly down the SE face by one of several scree slope opportunities. Many more wildflowers to be seen here.

    It should be noted that the trailhead for this hike can also serve as a TH for Teocalli. A trail which does not show on either the USGS quad, or the Guinnison NF map, heads east from the parking area to the south ridge of Teocalli ("Teocalli Ridge" on the USGS map) and crosses the ridge at 11,100 ft. Head north from that saddle for an easy Class 2 hike to the summit on a trail that eventually fades away below some minor cliff bands.

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