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4 summits in the Elk mountains and San Juan mountains of Colorado

John B

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I have been remiss in not posting this sooner. I had a week of vacation scheduled in early August in anticipation of a trip with some friends to the Tetons. Unfortunately, for various reasons it didn't happen. I decided not to waste the prime time vacation, and was able to work out some peaks and a mini-backpacking trip with my friend Lisa.

On Saturday, August 2 I drove from my home in the foothills west of Denver, and met Lisa (she lives in western Colorado) at the Capitol peak trailhead (Capitol is known as one of, if not THE toughest fourteeners in the state). However, Capitol was not our goal as both of us had climbed it many years ago. Rather, we were seeking redemption for a failed attempt to climb one of it's neighbors (Clark peak 13,580ft in elevation). It's a challenge in it's own right. Saturday we backpacked in 6.5 miles from the trailhead at 9000 feet to just below Capitol Lake at 11,500ft and camped for the night. Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/ClarkDalyEntryDay2014_08_02?authkey=Gv1sRgCMHoy5Csqp-SYA

Sunday, August 3: As we had to climb 800 feet to the Daly/Capitol saddle, then descend 300 feet to a basin to the east, climb another 400 feet to a second ridge, descend a cliff, traverse a snowfield just to get to a class 3+ ridge on Clark peak, we left our camp at 4:20am. After dealing with the ascent/descent, we had an interesting (but fun) scramble up the west ridge of Clark peak, reaching the summit at 10am--took us 1.5 hours to do a half mile scramble along that ridge. Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/ClarkPeak2014_08_03?authkey=Gv1sRgCN6rwbiWtf-AfQ

Monday, August 4: we slept in, got up at the sinfully late hour of 5:30am, left camp at 6:30am with a goal of Mt Daly (13,300ft). Got to ascend the same steep ridge as we did on Sunday, then had some interesting route finding to gain the summit of Mt Daly at 10am. Weather was closing in, so we descended the west side of the ridge (not the way we came up) so that we could escape possible lightning dangers. Almost got cliffed out twice, but managed to find our way back to camp. Got rained on most of the last half of the descent, and pretty much from 2pm through the night after getting back to camp at 12:30, just having time to sort gear, and dive in our tents. Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/MtDaly2014_08_04?authkey=Gv1sRgCO_GhrGf-9bj5AE

Tuesday, August 5: up at 6:30, left camp at 8 and packed out to the trailhead: Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/ClarkDalyExitDay2014_08_05?authkey=Gv1sRgCPOMw5CImpaVlgE

drove to Montrose (western Colorado), stayed at Lisa's house there Tuesday night. Took the day off Wednesday, had a chance to hook up with my brother also. drove to campsite in the backcountry Wednesday night, and car camped.

Thursday, August 7: up at 5am, drove 2 miles up the 4 wheel drive road from our campsite to trailhead and climbed Redcliff peak (13,642). This was our token "easy" peak--just a class 2 walkup, and lots of fun. Drove from here down to yankee boy basin near Ouray, Colorado and camped in campground for the night. Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/RedcliffPeak?authkey=Gv1sRgCNKuovut29rjmgE

Friday, August 8: up very early (4am), drove 5 miles up rough 4wd road to trailhead for Potosi peak (13,786ft) This was another daunting climb, with a very steep ascent of grassy slopes followed by scree slopes, then traversed east to the summit tower of Potosi. Had a bit of an issue finding the proper coulouir that was the gateway to the summit (the entire summit block is a cliff band, and essentially there is only one "easy" way to the top. After the climb, back to Montrose, stayed there for the night, and returned to Denver area on Saturday. Pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/JBroadbooks/PotosiPeak2014_08_08?authkey=Gv1sRgCIGC_pLy8bXs8QE

For the week: 4 summits, 35 miles and 13,600 in elevation gain. Needed some rest after that!


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Nice photos. I just got back from the same area, although i'm still ticking off 14ers, so i nabbed the Chicago basin peaks, Sneffels, and Snowmass. Gotta love Ouray and Yankee Boy Basin. I'm out there a few times a year and its always great!


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Aaron Zagrodnick

Awesome trip report John.

Just got back from 5 days in the Wind River mountains. Trip report to follow soon.

I'm already jealous... :D

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