A fantastic traverse - Vigil to KnightsEl Paso/Teller Counties
Mt. Big Chief Quad
Mt. Vigil, 10,073 (5.3)
San Luis Peak, 10,460 interpolation/map error
McKinley Peak, 10,450
Knights Peak, 10,490
Stats: 7.3, 2880' gain.
Partners: Greg Hakes, Pete Krzanowsky, Derrill Rodgers
We parked at the Bear Trap Ranch after checking in with them, and headed uphill. Couldn't find the start of the trail due to snow, but bushwhacked west until we found it, then followed it in the snow to the rocky area below the summit. We roped up for the climb, but it can be soloed if you are willing to take the chance. There is a bolt on the east side of the first crux, but gear can be placed as well. Above that on the 2nd crux, gear can be placed as well (a #2 slots in nicely), as someone has removed the hangar from the bolt. Above those, there is a double hangar anchor for toproping the slab to the NW of the anchor. I set up a nice anchor here and belayed Pete and Derrill up. We all summited, and then Dad, being bored, soloed up to meet me while Pete and Derrill broke things down and got ready to move on. Dad and I summited again, then he used the ropes as a handline and downclimbed, spotted by P & D. Then I changed the anchor, rappelled down, and we cleaned up and headed west.
We eventually found the San Luis Trail, but I imagine it is much easier to find when dry. We followed it over some fantastic rocks to the summit area, which was one of the coolest summits I've been on. Nice giant rocks, very LCW-like. I made the mistake of not leaving my register (couldn't find one) as we were unsure about the next rocky point over, maybe 400' away. It is significantly lower. Doh!
From there, we continued on the shared ridge to McKinley, which is very close. Found a register from cftbq, signed in, and headed on to the tallest and most difficult part of the day, Knights Peak.
The bushwhacking was the densest once we started uphill, and the snow was the deepest we found, from 1-2', sometimes more. Eventually, we hit the ridge, then went south to the summit area. Cool! Found the register, had a snack, and descended north, never finding the trail indicated on the Ormes P.P. Atlas. Down to the road, we walked it back to the ranch, going downhill to save walking the road. We headed up and then parked below Sugarloaf, hitting that one as the snow turned into a whiteout. A nice finish to the day.
Sugarloaf was .8 miles, 350' gain.