Starting at the Willis Gulch TH (9,280-ft), cross the Lake Fork River on a very nice bridge and continue on past some beaver ponds on your left. Follow the easy trail as it gradually ascends east up through some beautiful strands of aspens. At this point you are at the base of the Northeast ridge Route of Rinker Peak.
Here comes the tricky part, locating the correct spot to leave the trail to start your steep ascent up the northeast ridge. When looking at the topo map in Roach’s thirteener book on page 120, about a half mile from the TH, locate a small stream that descends from a tiny flat spot (meadow). The words “Lake Chaffe” appear below this meadow. That meadow is the objective and if you hike up this small drainage you won’t have any issues locating the meadow at 10,400-ft. When you leave the Willis Gulch Trail, you can expect a semi steep easy bushwhack. The trees are far enough apart which makes for easy going. I also found numerous game trails that aided my progress.
At 10,400-ft you will get to this meadow, which in my opinion is one of the most intimate places I have ever been, I bet nobody comes up here which might make for a nice place to take my wife one of these days! Once at the meadow, turn right and start your ascent of the northeast ridge. This section of the hike is really nice, again, off-trail hiking through well spaced aspen trees with the aid of game trails, very steep but not too difficult at all. The lower ramparts of the northeast ridge is free of trees and consists of large talus, so I decided to keep on traversing up through the trees on nice footing until I absolutely had to attain the ridge crest and start hiking on talus.
Once on the ridge crest you get this view of the Lake fork River and hwy 82. The rest of the route is obvious from here. Just follow this long narrowing ridge to the top of your first false summit. From here, drop about 150-ft and continue another quarter mile up to the lower of two highpoints of Twin Peaks at 13,270, the hiking here is tough class 2. From this summit drop close to 200-ft and start back up the steep ridge to the summit of the higher of the Twin Peaks at 13,370-ft. Trying to bypass these summits is possible but by only 20 or 30-ft for the slope is too loose and steep here. There are a few escape routes down to the Willis Gulch area if a storm is brewing, I know because I used one of them. The only problem is that it is a 2000-ft drop. Yikes, watch your knees. From the top of the second Twin Peak drop another 150-ft and start your final ascent up to Rinker’s summit, class 2.
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