Gore Range Overview
Hail Peak, Willow Peak, East Thorn, and Red Peak from Deming Mountain.
Colorado’s spectacular but barely known Gore Range
is host to many alpine summits over 13,000-ft and many more summits over 12,000-ft. In the relatively short stretch from Gore Pass in the north to Tenmile Creek in the south, the Gore range is densely populated with 50 some mountains over 12,000-ft. The Gores, rather then consisting of large isolated mountains rising from the timber or tundra, consist instead of dramatic serrated ridges, with the summits being ridge junctions or highpoints. These dramatic ridges are riddled with gnarled, tooth-like spires that have mesmerized many world-class climbers. Many of these high and wild ridges actually have names like, The Zodiac Spires
, Ripsaw Ridge
, Red Diamond Ridge
and The Grand Traverse
Geologicaly the Gore Range is a fault-block mountain range
. Similiar to the Sangre de Cristos of Colorado and the Tetons of Wyoming in that these ranges are bounded by faults that broke and shifted, thrusting up the mountains while downdropping the valleys. Although the rock is similiar to the Idaho Springs Formation of the Front Range, the rugged Gore's contrasting orogensis makes these mountains look quite different from the glaciated folded anticline that makes up the Front Range. Glaciers played an extensive role in carving the cirques and spires that abound in the Gores. Many of the drainages are choked by large terminal moraines at their lower reaches and cut by successive headwalls higher up. Many headwalls are graced with gorgeous waterfalls.
The Gore Range is almost completely encompassed by the Eagles Nest Wilderness
. This 133,325 acre Wilderness Area was established in 1976. It is popular (especialy the Vail side) but wilderness protection has granted a lasting pristene quality that is palpable. Despite the network of access trails, many drainages (the upper reaches in particular) remain trail-less. Wilderness regulations do apply; please follow them as this area is a real treasure.
Only 60 miles at its closest point from Denver, the Gore Range as a whole is relatively unknown. Due to the lack of mining roads that criss-cross more popular mountain ranges the interior of the Gore Range can be difficult to reach. Of the summits of the Gore Range none attain the magic 14,000-ft mark, which accounts for some of the ranges obscurity. The monarch of the Gore Range is the 13,534-ft. Mount Powell
at the north end of the range. Overall, the west side of the Gore Range is more accessible than the east. If approaching from the east, expect long, tedious, bushwhacking adventures with difficult route finding.
A result of the Gore Range's obscurity is that few of the summits are officialy named. The Colorado Mountain Club
and enterprising climbers have often bestowed their own names. These unofficial designations often are the "alphabet" designations of the early CMC trips (relics of the 1930's) or the more inspired names that came latter on (The Spider
, Mount Solitude
, etc). A list of these names and their elevations can be found at Gerry and Jennifer Roach's
wonderful website. The process educating one's self about these mountains is quite rewarding. Hand label your maps.
Those of us that are determined to spend some time climbing the Gores should own updated U.S. Geological survey topography maps and brush up on their compass skills. Precise planning and execution are of paramount importance when selecting routes in this range. With solid route finding, many of these quiet summits can be climbed without a rope. Major faces and long jagged ridges provide unlimited technical climbing opportunities as well. An ice axe is highly recommended on any early season climbs.
Please do your own research and homework for the Gores because this mountain range lacks any current guidebook exposure. After developing strong map reading skills, go and discover for yourself the Gore Range magic you occasionally hear about.
Please see Theron Welch's
excellent page on the Gore Range for more information. His photos and descriptions are inspiring and informative. Thank you Mr. Welch.
Text graciously provided by Kane with some elaboration by myself.
Panoramic shot from the summit of Deming Mountain.
Deming Mountain Overview
Deming Mountain from the Deming-Red Peak saddle. August 2004.
is the monarch of a very small kingdom. It is a relatively gentle outpost on the southern margins of the mighty Gore Range. Yet it lords over fellow summits in the diminutive subsection of the Gores located south of Red Buffalo Pass
. These southern Gore summits are much less rugged then their brethern to the north but they offer awe inspiring views and a chance to look into the rugged heart of the Gore Range.
Deming Mountain is archetypal of this area. It shares a lot of the characteristics of Buffalo Mountain
and Uneva Peak
being possessed of a rounded summit and steeper lower slopes. However Deming is not without its ramparts. Its north face is moderately cliffy, its northwest ridge is a short tight scramble punctuated by a notch, and its connecting ridge with the 12,578 ft. West Deming
looks to be a sporty traverse. The standard route via Eccles Pass
has a brief steep step that could be problematic with snow or ice.
Deming is a veritable field course in the attractions of the Gores. The waterfalls, lakes, streams, flowers, and wildlife blending into a collage of the wonderful vibes this area has. The views from the summit are spectacular. The spine of the Gores march north in a most sky raking fashion. In close proximity West Deming Mountain
, Snow Peak
, Mount Valhalla
, Hail Peak
, Willow Peak
, Zodiac View Peak
, East Thorn
, Red Peak
, Buffalo Mountain
, and Eccles Peak
, grace the view.
Note on the etymology of Deming:
The following quote was provided by John Prater and originates in Joe Kramarsic's "Mountaineering in the Gore Range": There is no name for this mountain on either the Dillon 1929 15M map or the Vail Pass 1970 7½M map. However, a Bureau of Reclamation survey marker on the summit denotes the name "Deming Mountain". This name is for an early Frisco family dating back to 1888. John J. Deming, 1874-1920, followed his father Elisha to Frisco, arriving in 1890. He spent a number of years as a logger and miner. He and his wife raised seven children and the family "... hiked, hunted, fished and explored every inch of their wilderness 'back yard'."
Maps and Directions
Topographic map of Routes on Deming Mountain.
Ryan Gulch Trailhead
The Ryan Gulch Trailhead is the primary access point on Deming Mountain. To get there take the Silverthorne
exit off of I-70. Go north on Highway 9 to the first light and take a left. This becomes the Ryan Gulch Road. Follow this about 3.5 miles as it switchbacks up the slopes past condos and mountain homes. The parking for the trailhead is on the southside of the road. The Ryan Gulch Trail is found to the right (east) of the parking lot. This is not to be confused with the Lilly Pad Lake Trail
which is found to the left on the west side of the parking area. Note: After hiking up the trail about a half mile you will come to a confusing 4 way intersection. The trail to the left leads to Buffalo Mountain, the center trail leads to South Willow Creek (this is the trail you want), the right trail leads to the Mesa Cortina Trailhead.
The South Willow Creek Route: 13.5 miles, class 2.
From the Ryan Gulch Road Trailhead follow the trail on the right side (east side) up to the 4 way intersection. Take the center trail here. Continue north east until you come to the first talus crossing. Do not take the faint trail leading off to the left.
Cross the talus and begin the descent into the South Willow Creek drainage. From the boggy bottom go left heading up past the South Willow Creek Falls
. There are some excellent but public campsites here. Continue up the trail which evens out after passing the drainage's headwall.
Once in the upper basin go left at a trail intersection heading past two lakes on route to Eccles Pass. From Eccles Pass go either directly over the rock step just to the west or contour up the grassy, rock strewn slope on the south side of the ridge. Once past this minor obstacle Deming Mountain's upper slopes provide a pleasant stroll.
“Red Tape” per attm
No permits or fees are required. Like all wilderness areas no mechanized or motorized vehicles are permitted within the Eagles Nest boundaries.
Wilderness is land set aside as part of wild America, where man can be a visitor. The natural environment has not been disturbed. Travel is restricted to foot or horseback. No mechanized equipment is allowed.
For more information, contact the U.S. Forest Service at the # below:
Eastern Portion of the Wilderness:
Dillon Ranger District
680 River Parkway
Silverthorne, CO 80498
Western Portion of the Wilderness:
Holy Cross Ranger District
P.O. Box 190, 24747 US HWY 24
Minturn, CO, 81645, Phone: 970-827-5715
When To Climb
Deming Mountain may be accesible year round. However avalanche slopes threaten the South Willow Creek Route and the Meadow Creek Route may present problems above Eccles Pass. Still, given stable conditions this mountain can be enjoyed year round.
Deming Mountain above Meadow Creek with two dogs. June 2005.
Camping is available in the upper Meadow Creek Basin, along South Willow Creek (especialy near the falls), and in upper South Willow Creek Basin. Please try and minimize your impact.
Expect snow in the Gore Range until early June.
Colorado Avalanche Information Center (CAIC)
Vail Web Cam
Click image to enlarge
Click here to view a 7-day forecast for The Gore Range