Fletcher Mountain, Colorado
From Upper Blue Lake TH
Thursday June 28, 2012
While staying at a cabin up in Breckenridge myself, my nephew Wil and my niece’s fiancé Andy all decided to venture out for the first alpine summit of the year. Blue Lakes Road was only about 9-10 miles from the cabin and we woke at 6:00am to a beautiful morning. After a quick breakfast of scones, black coffee and some Gatorade we were on the road out of Breckenridge and followed route 9 south towards Hoosier Pass. Several winding turns later we reached Blue Lakes Rd 850 and turned right and followed the good dirt road to the upper parking lot at Upper Blue Lake.
The weather was absolutely perfect with a cooling breeze and blue skies all-around. Some mountain goats were present and at least a dozen could be counted ranging from baby size to full grown and they paid little attention to us as we readied our packs and were on the trail up the right side of the dam north of Upper Blue Lake right at 7:15. I led us up what I thought to be the correct spur following the Quandary Peak sign posted as an Eagle Scout project and soon gained some quick elevation before losing the trail in the heavy willows.
Route finding has never been my strong point and this morning was living proof of that. I now had to lead us through willows and junipers and over some rather heavy talus fields for the next 30 minutes before we finally saw the actual trail a bit below and well to our left. Scrambling across the talus was now the only way to reach the trail and we stayed high with the intersection a good 15-20 minutes more over a couple of rocky rib lines and then finally over one last hump and down a little bit to the trail right near an abandoned mine site. Here the well-traveled trail went straight up a lush/green basin with a crystal clear stream running right in the middle along the trail. Fletcher Mountain was now visible for the first time well above straight ahead.
Although we had spent a bit of time finding the actual trail we had made decent progress and now found the good trail leading up beyond the stream and much higher through a rocky section where following the cairns became the next challenge. Up we went between some small snow fields and followed some short switchbacks through some rocky/scree and then past one more large boulder that sat directly on top of the largest snowfield. We were now in another basin of sorts as the ground leveled and now up ahead lay the summit “pyramid” for Fletcher Mountain. I had noticed some fresh footprints back near the stream and figured someone was ahead of us; we could now see one person above making their way back down towards us.
This higher basin was a mixture of dirt, grass and mostly rock with the cairns becoming much harder to find. We rested often but briefly and kept ourselves well hydrated as the day was now getting quite warm under a bright sun. With the summit in view we proceeded across the basin and stayed right and up the heavy talus of the summit “pyramid” itself.
Fletcher Peak summit "pyramid"
The going was not easy and I tried to find a decent line for us to following and with an occasional cairne we made our way much higher where we soon met the person we’d seen earlier. He was alone and had a rock in each hand and showed us some pyrite he’d found. We spoke briefly and then we headed up as he went down and the “trail” seemed pretty much non-existent at this point as we simply scrambled up higher and higher until the summit was directly above. Myself and Wil now clambered up one last rocky section as I reached the summit with Wil soon to follow. Andy was a little behind and made the summit about 5 minutes later; we’d made it! The time was 10:15.
The summit views were spectacular with countless peaks all-around and Quandary Peak dominating the view to the east and Upper Blue Lake down below.
We could see many people on the Quandary summit while we had the Fletcher summit all to ourselves which was good thing as this summit is quite small. Drift Peak lies due south and to the west is Mayflower Gulch and what little remains of the old Boston Mine
Mayflower Gulch and old Boston mine
which seemed rather fitting since Andy and I were both sporting Red Sox caps. North we could see Atlantic & Pacific Peaks directly across.
Atlantic & Pacific Peaks
We signed the summit registry, took in some food and drink while enjoying this high perch where we barely had enough room to sit and relax.
Yours truly & Andy
Grey clouds were building from the west and all-around as we knew our stay would be brief as we took some photos and more food and drink before bidding a due to this obscure, little summit at 10:35.
I put down three aspirin just as we were leaving as I knew the scramble back down would be just as difficult as the way up. Back down went pretty well and after making some mental notes on the way up I had us heading for a large rock ledge near the end of this upper most basin. After about 35 minutes we were back at the large boulder atop the snow field and I knew we were right where we needed to be to make the descent back down to the lower basin. We picked-up some more cairns here and made our way back down through the rocks and scree between the snow fields and finally down to the green basin and back to the well-traveled trail.
The grey clouds continued to build as we removed our leggings and applied some more sun lotion for the final descent back down to the north side of Upper Blue Lake. The sun remained strong overhead but the clouds soon brought some distant thunder and kind of spurred us along. Staying on the trail this time brought us well down near the lake and through some heavy willows as we now finally saw another group of people (mother, father and two kids) hiking back from the far end of the lake also heading back towards the dam. We exchanged pleasantries and we then followed them back to the parking lot and my truck right at 12:25pm.
Wil and Andy are each from Connecticut and both in their twenties. I was very pleased having them along for this trek and proud of how well they each did with the altitude adjustments making this a most pleasant and memorable alpine hike/climb.
Took a few more shots on the way back to the cabin of Monte Cristo Creek below Lower Blue Lake.
Monte Cristo Creek Falls
First alpine summit of 2012 on this beautiful day in the Colorado high country and another centennial 13’er………Way sweet!!
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