OverviewThis is a great 1/2 day outing from Red Mountain Pass which can have a nice mountaineering flair to it with snow. The route starts with some rolling terrain in the trees then climbs a series of benches on the ridge before a nice exposed catwalk leads to the finish.
Round Trip: 3 1/2 Miles
Appx 2300' Elevation Gain
via Red Mountain Pass (11,075')
Getting ThereThe trailhead is Red Mountain Pass, which is located at 11,075' along the "Million Dollar Highway" approximately midway between Ouray and Silverton in Colorado's San Juan Mountains. Parking is on the east side of the pass.
Route DescriptionHead southwest from the pass and climb a series of rolling benches in the trees. You are aiming for the first open face seen in this photo from the parking area.
From treeline, the ridge continues the "bench" theme. You will gain a couple hundred feet, then traverse a flat section, climb, traverse, etc. This continues until about 12,800' on the ridge where a steeper step leads to the crest of the finishing catwalk section. The slopes that were free from snow seemed to be grass with some talus tossed in. With firm snow these benches go quickly as you get a "breather" at each bench.
The catwalk is the most enjoyable part of this route. It starts out flat and slowly gains in elevation until the steepest sections just below the summit. There is some nice exposure, especially to the right. Watch for cornices on the right, and steep slide prone slopes to your left. In summer this may or may not require a little light scrambling.
Essential GearNothing special is required in summer. In winter perhaps snowshoes or crampons depending on how soft or firm the snow is. An ice axe is useful to help with the exposed traverses towards the end.
Other InformationYou can descend the South Ridge back to the Black Bear Road, combo opporunities abound as well, especially with PT 13510B to the north and T10 to the south.
The area has a lot of ski mountaineering, particularly in the spring on this side of the pass. There are great moderate lines all over the place.