Intro/StatsWhitehouse Mtn B (11975’)- CO Rank 1325
Treasure Mtn (13528’)- CO Rank 235
(Ragged range near Marble)
11.4 miles RT, 5490’ gain
From Treasure Mtn Bible Camp (8660’)
My wife and I were in Marble n.w. of Crested Butte for a weekend getaway at a nice B&B, so I scoured the maps for a convenient hike that wouldn’t take too long. I marveled at the ruggedness of the Ragged mountains on the way back from a trip to the West Elks earlier this summer, and vowed to visit them soon. This was the perfect opportunity. Treasure is not only the highpoint of this small range in the Elks, but is also a tri-centennial and a top 100 prominence peak to boot! Its relatively gentle north slopes are in sharp contrast to the rest of the range, so I thought this hike would be a piece of cake even though there would be a lot of vertical. I would soon find out there are no free tickets in the Raggeds!
With a forecast for no rain, I wasn’t too worried about starting this hike real early. I got the B&B to serve us at 6:30. I hoped to combine nearby 11er Whitehouse on the way up, as it was just north of the jeep road I planned on hiking up. The owner of the B&B informed me that the start of the jeep road on Whitehouse’s west slopes was on private property, the lower portion owned by a Bible camp. We headed up the Quarry Road south from Marble and stopped by the registration area at the camp. I secured permission to hike on their property, but the lady said they didn’t own the land higher up the mountain.
Surprises on WhitehouseMy wife dropped me off at 7:52am and I was off. We had hoped to meet at the gate to the campground at 3:15. Wishful thinking! After a brief detour going down the wrong fork in the road, I headed up the steep, endless switchbacks. The road has a couple long switchbacks, then they get shorter and steeper. I made good time and followed it all the way to a cabin on the south ridge of Whitehouse. From here, it was only 4/10 mile to the summit. It looked like it would be a cakewalk on the map, but surprises were lurking.
I initially found a trail, but that quickly petered out and gave way to a lot of bushwacking/scrambling. The ridge was much rougher than I anticipated, which slowed my progress quite a bit. I skirted the ridge to the left on the more difficult terrain over loose shale. This ridge reminded me of some of the bushwacks on lower peaks I have done around C. Springs. After a couple false summits, I topped out at 10:04. Knowing the 2.5 mile traverse over to Treasure would take more time, I only hung around for 15 minutes. The views on Whitehouse were worth the effort as the connecting ridge between Capitol and Snowmass stood tall to the east. Whitehouse is riddled with prime avy terrain as we could see avy chutes all over its steep north face from the B&B.
The Long Traverse to TreasureOn the descent, I initially tried to stay on the ridge crest to minimize the bushwacking, but it was too tedious. I dropped off the crest at a cool, exposed section. It took me about 40 minutes to get back to the cabin at the saddle.
From here, the going would be much easier on Treasure’s broad, n.w. ridge. I dropped down to the road to avoid some towers on the ridge, passing by the Skyline Mine. I soon left the road and traversed s.e. underneath the cliffs of Pt 12287. My final steep grunt of the day popped me out above the cliffs and onto the gentle ridge.
The hike now turned into a gentle high altitude tundra stroll along Treasure’s gentle n.w. ridge. Treasure is a huge mountain with a couple false summits to the south, which I skirted around to the right. I was now moving much quicker and cruised up to the summit at 12:22. The weather was perfect as it was one of those rare August days where the clouds were few. Here I enjoyed looking down the cool Chimneys of Treasure Mtn ridge to the east.
The Maroon Bells and Pyramid dominated the skyline to the east. I could even see the white gully on Thunder Pyramid. This mountain sees few visitors, yet it is a hidden treasure indeed. I didn’t have the time to continue over to neighbor 13er Treasury, although the ridge to it looked problematic with a cliff band near the saddle. With uncertain terrain lurking on the descent, I headed down at 12:45.
Paying My DuesIn order to avoid hiking all the way back to the road and down the endless switchbacks, I decided to bail down a n.w. trending broad ridge to the north of Yule Lakes. It looked steep but doable on the map and would keep me out of the trees all the way down to the Yule Pass trail at Thompson Flat. This looked like a great decision at first as it was a nice, grassy descent for the first 500’ vertical or so. All good things must come to an end though, as things would soon turn rough. I stayed on patches of grass through the talus and I noticed some potential cliffy terrain below on the ridge, which there were. I decided to traverse into a drainage to the south, which looked a bit more promising.
The terrain continued to steepen and gave way to steep slabs, willows, and ledges. I followed a stream bed to avoid the willows when I could, but the rocks in the stream were slick with moss. I would think I was in the clear and another obstacle would present itself. Luckily there was only one small cliff band that I had to skirt, or it would have taken me much longer. The seemingly endless 3400’ bushwack down to the valley finally ended and I found the trail above Yule Creek. To add insult to injury, I briefly lost the trail again amidst brush that was taller than me! I bushwacked to the creek and saw the trail pop out on the other side.
After crossing the creek, I made radio contact with my wife and said I would be late, still 1.5 miles from our meeting place. I told her to drive up the road as far as she could to save me some distance. The trail pops out at the Yule Quarry, which according to my B&B host is the largest marble quarry in the world. It was cool hiking next to huge blocks of marble. I met Jenni on at a bend in the road at 9200’ at 3:40. I would find out there are no gimmie summits in the Raggeds!