The talus slope leading up the upper southwest side of Mailbox Peak provides a slightly more technical alternative option for potential summiters of the mountain. The talus field is best recommended during mid-to-late Spring while snow is still present on the upper slopes but the talus field rocks are exposed and after avalanche danger has considerably passed, but is an option during other times of the year, as well.
The talus field begins at approximately 4100' elevation, and variations of it continue to the summit. The Mailbox Peak Trail (standard route) traverses to the left (WNW) of the talus slope. As the standard trail can be quite rugged and muddy at times on the upper section of the mountain, the talus slope can provide a more durable alternative route.
There are several distinct advantages to traversing the talus slope. First, Mailbox Peak is a very popular hiking destination. As such, much of the fragile landscape surrounding the standard route is being damaged by the large numbers of visitors to the mountain. This damage can be limited considerably by ascending and descending via the talus slope, as traveling (YDS Class II/III) on hard rocks and boulders is more viable to the surrounding landscape than damaging dirt and wildflowers. Another advantage of traversing the talus slope is to avoid rock-wells hidden by snow on and around the standard route, during periods when the mountain is snow-covered but the talus field is exposed. This scenario normally occurs during mid-to-late Spring, after avalanche dangers above treeline have passed.
Route DescriptionHike the Mailbox Peak Trail until above treeline. The talus slope begins by approximately 4100' elevation. Begin ascending the talus slope, walking and boulder-hopping on the rock field. After several hundred feet of elevation gain, the talus slope re-intersects with the Mailbox Peak Trail. Climbers can either regain the official trail, or move east along the southern slopes to remain on talus/rocky terrain and then up to the summit.
Essential GearStandard hiking gear.
During periods when snow covers the talus slope, the slope (as well as the upper sides of the mountain in general) should be avoided due to high avalanche danger. Snow-covered talus is dangerous because of hidden rock-wells, as well.