Drift to Fletcher Traverse

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.39940°N / 106.138°W
Seasons Season: Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 3-4 scrambling
Additional Information Rock Difficulty: Class 4
Sign the Climber's Log

Drift to Fletcher Traverse

This was a pleasant traverse with lots of fun options to work around a center cornice.

From the summit of Drift, descend first to the southeast, and then quickly turn north to wrap yourself around the flank of an east-trending ridge. Now below the summit of Drift, head immediately northwest below the summit and gain the ridge that takes you to Fletcher. After a short distance, the ridge forces you to downclimb a gulley, and you will find yourself at the large cornice that interrupts the traverse to Fletcher. There is a really fun notch at the base of the gulley below the cornice. Have some fun monkeying around in here. Most of the material is class 3.

From the notch, take a look up the east face of the cornice and you will find class 3 to 4 routes up some nice slab rock. Looking at the west face of the cornice from the notch, and you will find a class 3 route up a loose rock couloir. This west route is actually an abrupt and vertical ledge with significant exposure. Imagine loose rock and a tumble to the gulley which drops below to your left. I found I was more comfortable with the slab on the east side of the cornice than this exposed and loose ledge on the west side of the cornice. On either of these routes, it seemed to me that the downclimb on the other side of the cornice was fairly easy.

Ultimately because of fall ice, I had to bail on the cornice and I finished by downclimbing the gulley that descends northwest from the notch below the cornice. Be very careful of seasonal ice that accumulates on the slab in here. I used my arrester extensively on this decent, although it is probably a great class 3 scramble in the summer. Although you can fully exit this gulley, instead, look for a small but defined notch to your right. You should see this once you reach the bottom of the slab in the gulley, about midway down. Contouring north through the notch, leave the gulley and then regain the Drift-Fletcher ridge on the north side of the cornice. After negotiating your preferred route past the cornice, Fletcher will seem like a short sprint.

"Black and Tan"

The "Black and Tan" route gains the saddle immediately south of Fletcher (between Fletcher and the cornice-traverse described above.) Some sources describe this as a standard approach to Fletcher from Mayflower Gulch.

I highly recommend avoiding this route.

The Black and Tan route is filled with some of the worst scree and rotten talus you can possibly find in this part of the state. No hiker or climber on this route will be able to achieve a "leave no trace" ascent.

The Black and Tan route would be great if you needed a shortcut off the mountain, such as in a summer thunderstorm. Otherwise I 100% recommend retracing your route across the ridge traverse, or returning through Fletcher's standard approach to the east.

Essential Gear

I used an arrester. Some people will find a rope comforting on the cornice.



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