East Pagoda via Ripple Creek Pass

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Time Required:
Half a day
Class 4 when snow covered, class 2+ or 3 when dry

Route Quality: 2 Votes

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East Pagoda via Ripple Creek Pass
Created On: Jun 8, 2005
Last Edited On: Mar 7, 2006


The trailhead is at a large meadow just south of Ripple Creek Pass. The road over Ripple Creek Pass is usually plowed around Memorial Day and stays open until around Thanksgiving, but each year is different.

There are several ways to reach Ripple Creek Pass. There is a road from the south and Trappers Lake, one from the east and Yampa or Phippsburg, one from the northeast and Oak Creek, one from the north and Hayden, and one from the northeast and Pagoda (village) and Hamilton. I know only the road from Hamilton and Pagoda, but very few Coloradoans will be coming from that direction (Craig), so it seems rather pointless to describe the drive. Most people will be driving in from the Trappers Lake or Yampa areas.

Bring the White River Forest Service Map, and park at the meadow just south of Ripple Creek Pass. All raods are in good condition, and can be driven in a car, but 4wd may be needed in bad weather, or ealy or late season.

Note: More detail on driving directions will be added when I drive the other routes.

Route Description

Make sure to pull out the map and compass and/or GPS for this one. There is no trail to the summit of the peak, and much of the route is in thick timber. The route is a piece of cake, exept for the crux pitch (see below).

Note: We climbed this peak in a snowstorm with very little visibility, and when the entire route was buried in snow. I will do my best to decribe the route, but be aware that things may appear different in different conditions.

When the route is snow covered (as it was on our visit), it seemed best to forget about trying to follow the trail and to make a "beeline" to the summit using a map and compass. This will be the route described as we found it in those conditions. From the trailhead, cross the snow-covered meadow to the northwest to a trailhead sign. From here, continue northwest along some meadows until the forest is entered. Pull out the map and compass or GPS here and pay close attention to your location. Continue through the forest and head in the general direction of the peak. Climb north and to the south ridge of the peak. Once on the ridge crest, follow the ridge north to the summit. There is a cliff band to get through just before the summit block, and this forms the only obstacle on the climb. If the cliff band is iced up, such as it was on our visit, this can be a short (25-30 feet) but challenging little climb. Our route took us up a crack with a few small chockstones for footholds. When iced up, this pitch could be considered 4th class, but when it is snow free, I'm guessing it would only be class 2+ or 3 tops. It may be possible to bypass the cliff band if you look around, but climbing the band adds a little excitement to an otherwise very easy route. Once on top of the crux, the summit is just a short walk to the north. If the weather is good, you should enjoy some spectacular views. The round trip distance to the summit is about three miles. Most of the elevation gain in the last mile.

Essential Gear

In the July through September season, no special equipment is needed. Ski poles and snowshoes are usually needed from sometime in November until sometime in June, but if you climb early enough in the morning in May or June, you may get away without them, assuming the snow is frozen. A rope can be useful to ascend the crux pitch if it is iced up, which might(?)be the case anytime between October until sometime in June. There is an old tree which could be used an an anchor.

Since there is no trail, make sure to bring a map and compass, or a GPS.