OverviewThe mile and a half long ridge that connects Deer Mountain to PT 13736 provides for some interesting scrambling and great views of the surrounding areas. The route requires climbing over unranked PT 13445 and as a result of all of the up and down, yields about 1100' of vertical climbing. The route works well in either direction, and each way has its benefits.
If you start from Deer Mountain you climb the highest peak first and descend back to the trailhead without a long trail hike out. However, if you climb from PT 13736 first you will be able to upclimb the most difficult class 3 sections.
The ridge traverse is 1 1/2 miles and gains about 1100' of elevation with all of the ups and downs. Below are some totals including ascent and descent of the peaks.
Ascent of Deer's NW Ridge, traverse to PT 13736 with descent of the NE Ridge on PT 13736 is 10 miles round trip with about 4100' of elevation gain.
Ascent of Deer's NW Ridge, traverse to PT 13736 with descent via Mt Champion's SE Ridge is 9 1/2 miles round trip with 4400' of elevation gain.
Getting ThereThe route begins at the North Fork Lake Creek Trailhead at 10,780'. From the junction of Colorado 82 and Hwy 24, go 19 miles west to the first major switchback before the road ascends to Independence Pass. Just below this switchback there is a dirt parking area for about a dozen cars on the right. This trailhead is about 2.2 miles above the winter road closure.
Route DescriptionThis route is described going from Deer to PT 13736. Begin by ascending the Northwest Ridge route on Deer Mountain. From the summit descend off the south ridge of Deer Mountain. There is some class 3 downclimbing required off the summit block and the rock is a little loose. Continue to scramble over steep class 2 terrain to a steep rock step in the ridge. This section requires careful class 3 downclimbing as the rock is loose.
The next section goes quickly as you by pass a couple of small bumps on the ridge with the aid of a climbers/game trail. The hiking here is class 2 and leads you to the base of PT 13445. Ascend class 2 talus to the top of this unranked summit. As a side note, you can climb east from this point to reach the west ridge of "K49".
Climb along the ridge crest from this point over a second unranked "bump". From the top of this section begin the route's crux, a 3rd class downclimb to the 13060' low point of the traverse. From above the route may not seem obvious, but try and stay as close to the ridge crest as your comfort with the exposure allows. The left side is your out to avoid any difficulties, but there is some loose rock on that side.
At the base of this pitch your downclimbing is over and all that remains is to climb 676' up the Northeast Ridge of PT 13736. There is some loose rock and a few easy scrambling moves to overcome along the way. The steepness relents just below the summit where one final tower remains. Climb over it or bypass it on semi-loose blocks to the left side to reach the summit.