Beattie is one of the jagged and colorful peaks that surround Trout Lake near Lizard Head Pass in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado. Although not as high as some of its more illustriuos neighbors such as Vermilion Peak (13894 ft), Golden Horn (13765 ft) and Pilot Knob (13738 ft), Beattie Peak is a formidable mountain that is well worth climbing.
Theoretically, Beattie can be climbed from the west (via Trout Lake) and from the east (via South Mineral Campground). Without giving any details, "Climbing Colorado's San Juan Mountains" by Robert F. Rosebrough recommends that the hiker go from the South Mineral Campground to the 13000 ft saddle between Beattie and Fuller Peak (13761 ft), then follow the ridge to the top. I tried this route but found it impractical (see below). Since maps show that the western slopes of Beattie are less steep, the easiest way to climb Beattie may be from the west.
From Silverton (elevation 9318 ft) drive 2 miles north on Route 550 till you see the sign for the South Mineral Campground on the west side of Route 550. Turn west on this road and follow it 4.5 miles till the campground. The road is not paved but is well-graded and passable by any car until the campground. After the campground, the road becomes 4 wheel drive. Follow it another 2 miles on the northwest side of the creek until you reach the abandoned Bendora Mine (10750 ft). This is your trailhead. USGS map shows that the road splits here. The first arm goes down the valley to cross the creek and head for South Park. The second arm continues above the creek to reach the abandoned Big Three Mine. The second arm of the road has actually been converted into a trail (motorized vehicles are not allowed). You will need to hike the second arm.
According to "Climbing Colorado's San Juan Mountains", you should go from the trailhead to the 13000 ft saddle between Beattie and Fuller Peaks (the book gives no details as to how this may be achieved). From the trailhead, you can not see Beattie, Fuller or the saddle between them. All you can see is a steep slope that leads to a band of cliffs. Since I was not able to reach the saddle, I will mention the route I took.
Maps show that Bendora Mine is under a drainage below Fuller Peak. To get to the drainage below the 13000 ft saddle, I began to hike the trail that goes to the Big Three Mine. The band of cliffs continued on top of steep slopes above the trail. Soon the trail entered a very dense pine forest. At this point, I was probably in the drainage below the 13000 ft saddle but it would have been unwise to leave the trail and attempt to bushwhack my way up the steep slope where my only view was that of the few trees directly in front of me. My map showed that the forest continued another 500 vertical feet above the trail so I decided to continue to hike the trail.
After making a couple of switchbacks, the trail reached a stream (11500 ft). I was now in a drainage below Beattie and unnamed Peak (approximate elevation) 13280 ft. Here I left the trail and bushwhacked my way 50-75 vertical feet up until the forest ended. Once above the forest, I was hoping to back track my way to the drainage below the 13000 ft saddle but the slope that I needed to hike was covered with a dense carpet of bushes neck high that seemed impossible to cross so I decided to go up the drainage between Beattie and Peak 13280 ft.
I continued up the slopes on the right side of the creek going across a boulder field. In a couple of places, the rocks became small and slippery. At around 12130 ft (and 2 miles from the trailhead), a basin that housed a small unnamed lake opened up. What I assumed to be the summit of Beattie Peak finally appeared to the right and Peak 13280 ft appeared to the left.
A steep and nasty scree slope rose above the lake all the way to the summit of Beattie. The slope did not seem to be a technical climb (see picture) but since only 3 days prior to this I had struggled up the scree slopes of another mountain (Peak 13309), I was in no mood to tackle the slope. I decided to sit by the lake and enjoy the views. Beattie Peak, Peak 13280 ft, Rolling Mountain (13693 ft) and Twin Sisters (13432 ft & 13374 ft) provided me with spectacular views.