OverviewThis page is not dedicated to one single route, but a collection of routes along a line of approximate peaks that form a cirque around the Gorge Lakes in RMNP. While these routes are pretty straightforward, I believe it is still imperative to have them for anyone with confusion towards how to bag these peaks. The usual sequence these peaks are climbed in is Ida, Chief Cheley, Cracktop, Julian and Terra Tomah. An optional (definitely recommended) route can be made to include unofficially named ‘Jagor Point’ from Azure Lake.
This route is primarily a Class 2 venture across 5 summits, with a small section of Class 3 scrambling. 10-20+ miles RT depending on how far you go
Getting ThereThe trailhead is called the Poudre Lake/Milner Pass TH
Route DescriptionTo Mount Ida:
Beginning at the Milner Pass Trailhead, follow the trail for about a half mile to a clearly marked intersection denoting the trail to Mount Ida. The entirety of this trail is not shown on most maps. This trail will take you above treeline, over Point 12150’ and down to a saddle between this point and the NW ridge of Mount Ida before it becomes faint. From this saddle, (gently) trample across the tundra or follow the faint path up 900’ to the summit of Mount Ida at 12880’.
To Chief Cheley Peak:
From the summit of Mount Ida, locate the slightly lower Chief Cheley Peak about .5 miles SE. Descend the steep south face of Ida to the saddle between the two peaks, 500’ below Mount Ida. The best way of doing so is not to just drop right off of Ida’s summit, where you will run into Class 3 scrambling, but to backtrack about one hundred feet and gain a sandy gully to the saddle below. The lake directly below you is Azure Lake. The climb to Chief Cheley is considerably steeper, albeit shorter, than the climb to Ida. The summit of Chief Cheley (12804’) is a conspicuous crop of white granite boulders. The lake directly below you is Highest Lake, fed by a permanent snowfield.
Ida from the saddle with Chief Cheley
Ida from Chief Cheley Peak
Chief Cheley from the summit of Mount Ida
From the summit of Chief Cheley, drop ~100’ to a small notch over looking Highest Lake and circle around backside of the headwall of the permanent snowfield to an obvious hill that is actually the summit of Cracktop. Gain the approximately 150’ to the summit of Cracktop (12766’) adorned by a cairn. If this is as far as you wish to continue, take time to check out the namesake crack that drops nearly 1000’ to just above Arrowhead Lake.
To Mount Julian:
NOTE: I have not climbed past Cracktop, any route from here on is based off of my observation and other sources, if you have climbed this route, please notify of any changes or suggestions I should make on this route.From the summit of Cracktop, you will have to navigate a small stretch to Class 3 climbing through a broken stretch of ridgeline just below Cracktop. This stretch is short, but the exposure can be intimidating, you can either fall down the crack couloir or into upper Hayden Gorge. Drop down 100’ to the connecting saddle between Cracktop and Mount Julian then simply continue up ~600’ to the summit of Mount Julian (12928’).
To Terra Tomah Mountain:
From the summit of Mount Julian, drop about 500’ to the connecting saddle between the peaks, then walk across the broad western slopes of Terra Tomah to the summit at 12718’.
To Jagor Point from Cracktop:
Jagor Point is a rocky point that juts out into the hanging valley home to the Gorge Lakes. From Cracktop, drop back down to the saddle west of the peak and cut across the talus slope to the ledge that holds Highest Lake. After visiting the lake, find the outlet stream and follow it down the rocky gulch to the edge of Azure Lake. Circle the shore to a small inlet stream running out of an unnamed pond just north of Azure Lake. Hike around boulders and patches of snow to the headwall of the gorge and locate a stable route up to the ridgeline, some 600 feet above. Once you have topped out, find the farthest east outcrop along the ridge that is the top of Jagor Point (12632’). The ensuing trip back to the saddle where the trail left off is simple Class 2 walking over tundra grasses.
Essential GearI would suggest you take a water filter, the nearest water source is at Highest Lake
BEWARE: Lightning is a huge problem in this area, you will be above treeline for 95% of this trip, and in many places, quickly decending from the ridgeline will put you in
(a) steeper, looser, wetter rocks than before
(b) a much more secluded, remote area, requiring a long bushwhack if the storm does not pass
(c) an area with no better cover than can be found on the rigdeline itself
If you are on the trail above treeline, you be the tallest thing around for a mile.
If you see clouds forming, I strongly suggest you turn around
External LinksKalet's TR
Hiking Roucky Mountain National Park,9th description