What's up with the name?
There are many summits that have unofficial names that have sprung up because of local usage or traditional agreement in the climbing community. Examples of these are some of the "T", "S", or "V" designation summits in the San Juans.
Richmond Pass Trail
Richmond Pass trail
(13,315') is easily accessible from Richmond Pass
. Richmond Pass can be reached either from Ironton Trailhead from US-550 (=Million Dollar Hwy
), or the other trailhead off Imogene Pass Rd. If you have 4 WD vehicle, the trailhead from Imogene Pass Rd. will make your hike a little shorter, but if you do not have a 4 WD vehicle, use the trailhead off US-550. This section of the trail is especially spectacular in the fall when aspens are changing colors. The area around Ironton is a very popular in the autumn with photographers.
Ironton Trailhead is in the southern portion of Ironton Park on the west side of Highway 550 as you head toward Red Mountain Pass. It is before the first switchback above Ironton Park and can be hard to find. Turn onto a short dirt road to reach it. Parking is limited to several cars. It is 2.5 miles from Ironton TH to the top of the Richmond Pass. The trail is easy to follow as it climbs through aspen trees, making many switchbacks. The higher sections of the trail are over grassy tundra and if trail is not very visible just follow cairns and posts all the way to the pass. You will get amazing views of Hayden Mountain here, and across the valley great views of Red Mountains, Brown Mountain and Abrams Peak. If you continue down the pass, you will reach the Richmond Basin Road where it joins with Imogene road. It is about 3.8 miles from Ironton to Imgene Pass.
The altitude at the Richmond Pass is 12,678 feet.
T 8 route overview from Richmond Pass
Wildflowers along Imogene Pass Road
As any mountain there are many ways to reach its summit.
The easiest way to teach the summit of T 8 is from the Richmond Pass. This hike will be mostly on trail all the way to the pass - elevation 12,678 feet, then over tundra and very little scree. The steepness does not exceed class 2 and there is pretty much no exposure. Richmond Pass can be hiked either from Ironton Trailhead, or from Imogene Pass Trailhed (see above). This approach combines really well with Hayden Mountain South. The summit of T 8 is located about 1 miles from the top of the pass in the southwest direction. Basically drop onto the SW side of the pass and try to stay high and traverse mostly over grassy slopes until you join a unmarked 4 WD road (unmarked on maps). Follow this road to a clearance between steeper slopes of T 8, go up this clearance (see photo) and up gentle slopes of T 8. The summit is decorated with a small cairn and summit register. The views are spectacular in all directions.
A more complicated route would be a traverse from T 7, involving loose class 3 moves and lots of scree. This approach would require 4 WD vehicle and driving/or hiking up Imogene Pass Road.
T 8 is located in the Mount Sneffels Wilderness area, so general regulations when visiting wilderness area apply. The following is prohibited: Entering area with more than 15 people per group. Camping within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or National Forest System Trail. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than 7 days. Possessing a dog which is not under control (verbal control is ok). For more regulations see the link to the website below.
When to Climb
Summer and early autumn are obviously the easiest. Ironton trailhead is accessible year round. The area gets heavy snowfall and the slopes are steep. Be familiar with avalanche conditions if climbing during the winter. Check for avalanche forecast here
Primitive camping is available at Imogene Rd. turn off for Richmond Pass. I would not recommend camping at the Ironton Trailhead - it is close to the road. Sleeping in a car could be an option here. Many people camp around Ironton Park. There are developed campground in Ouray and Silverton areas.