Escarpment Peak is mountain made of sedimentary rock located in Northwest Colorado. The east side of the mountain is steep while the west side of the mountain is gentler and rather than alpine, the mountain is a fairly barren “cold desert” mountain and is covered with brush and grasslands.
When viewed from the distant peaks of the north (such as Cross Mountain or Bald Mountain), Escarpment Peak looks “pointy”, but from up close it appears more mundane though there are several small cliffs about.
The weather is harsh and dry. Sunny skies predominate, but winter temperatures plunge to -40 or lower in the winter and rise to the upper 90’s in the summer. Nearby Maybell holds the distinction of being the place where the lowest temperature in Colorado was recorded at -61F (-52C). Summer temperatures have topped 100F (38C).
Vegetation is relatively sparse consisting of grass and scrubland, but the mountain holds a population of elk, deer, bighorn sheep, black bears, cougars, rattlesnakes, and other wildlife.
Escarpment Peak appears to be a popular summit by Moffat County standards (Moffat County is the second largest county in Colorado) because the summit register indicates that in the past five years there have been 10 signatures, or two a year on average (as many as five and as little as zero). With the exception of Mike Garret’s and mine, all other ascents were in the hunting season (October and November).
The upper slopes of Escarpment Peak from the east as viewed on May 1 2009. The peak appears "pointy" from the distant peaks to the north, but up close it appears more mundane.
From Highway 40 about two miles east of Maybell, turn south on County Road 57 (the road is signed for Price Creek). Follow this paved county road south to the junction of County Road 23, which is on the right. From the junction, continue along the paved County Road 57 south a very short distance to where the road begins to drop off a steep hill. Park before the road drops down the hill.
The mountain can be climbed from the east or from the west. The west side is much gentler, but required driving on rough dirt roads, but I’m not sure how access is since the roads appear to cross some private land (the peak itself is all on public land). If you did come from the west, the road up Pinto Gulch is on public land, but this requires much more driving on rough roads than the route described above in the Getting There section.
The route from the east has easy access from the paved road, but as mentioned is much steeper. The Northeast Spur
is probably the best route up the peak from the east. Because of all the elk in the area, there is only very minor bushwhacking. The northwest or southeast ridges are gentler, but may have access issues.
There are a few cliffs here, but there is really nothing that would be interesting to rock climbers.
This is the summit of Escarpment Peak on a gloomy spring day (May 1 2009). Later in the year it would be greener and a little sunshine might help as well.
The only Red Tape has to do private land. Make sure to avoid the private land (see also the route description).
There are no campgrounds in the immediate area, but camping on public land is legal. The Yampa River at Maybell is the nearest campground. Maybell itself also has a campground.
When To Climb
May and June are the best months to climb. This is the high desert with some of the widest temperature ranges in the country. In Maybell, temperatures have varied from 102 in the summer, and -61 in the winter. Summers are warm and can be hot. It can be in the 90's, and there are no reliable water sources on the mountain. Winters are cold, and the winter extremes are ridiculously low here. It may surprise some to here that the lowest temperature ever recorded in Colorado (-61), happened not in the high mountains, but at Maybell, at only 5920 feet elevation and right near Escarpment Peak. In the winter months, temperatures of -40 are fairly common, without the windchill.
The mountain could be climbed in winter from the west side, but the roads on that side would not be open so it might make a nice, but long ski tour. The east side is mostly too steep and brushy for viable ski touring.
In early spring, and possibly through April, everything is a muddy mess.
September and October can have pleasant temperatures as well, but Northwest Colorado is a very popular hunting destination. If you go then, wear blaze orange just to be safe.
Looking down the north ridge of Escarpment Peak under cloudy skies on May 1 2009. Later in the year it would be greener and perhaps a bit more aesthetic.
Mountain ConditionsCLICK HERE FOR WEATHER FORECAST FOR ESCARPMENT PEAK
Weather and climate data for Maybell at 5920 feet elevation is below. *National Weather Service Data 1958-2008.
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