"Quarter to 5 Peak", 12300
Mount Neva, 12814
Mount Jasper, 12923
"Skyscraper Peak", 12383
Start: 4th of July TH, ~10150
Finish: Junction to Hessie TH, ~9000
approx 13mi/4900'/10hr 40min
Partner: James Just
James and I met on Hwy 119 south of Nederland at the turn-off to Eldora. We drove 4.7mi, dropping my car at the junction to the Hessie TH, then he drove us to the 4th of July TH.
We started hiking at 6am up the pleasant trail. James was kind enough to not only set up the shuttle but also to hike "Quarter to 5" with me. At about 11500' we left the trail, heading up 800' in 1/4 mile to the summit. We saw 5 ptarmigan in their summer clothing on the slope and arrived atop the first peak at 7:40am.
We headed down the bumpy ridge to Arapaho Pass and connected with Kevin, from Rollinsville, who was also planning to do Neva's north ridge. Kevin and I were going by Roach's description, James by Cooper's, and we all managed fine. From the first major notch we traversed east of the ridge. From the second, I traversed on the west side while the other two stayed higher on the ridge.
At the third notch we traversed up on the east side on class 3 terrain to reach the gully below the crux. At the gully we saw three possible routes, on the east side, west side, and top of the gully. There also seemed to be a way to drop low on the west and bypass the crux altogether. After reviewing the descriptions, James led us up the route on the east side. I used a couple "knee on the ledge" moves and thought it was solid class 4 and not something I would enjoy downclimbing.
From the crux, we continued along the ridge, reaching Neva's summit at 9:50am. After a break, Kevin sped ahead to Jasper and a music festival, while James and I took a more leisurely pace, reaching Jasper's west summit at 11am. We scrambled over to the east summit, deciding the west was higher.
With James heading home to meet other obligations, I continued alone along the Continental Divide, reaching 12660 at noon. The stretch to Skyscraper is gentle but long, and the Divide winds were pushing hard. I was happy to reach the last summit at 1:35pm.
From the summit, I walked along the east ridge then descended south to Skyscraper Reservoir with minimal bushwhacking at 2:50pm. Everything about Skyscraper Peak seemed very pleasant. From the reservoir I caught the trail, which varies from smooth to rocky, narrow to 4WD road, reached the Hessie TH and continued to my vehicle at 4:40pm. A great day in the IPW!