Northeast Face

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.87270°N / 107.0381°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Time Required: Half a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 3 - 4
Sign the Climber's Log


This route ascends Nipple Peak, an excellent peak found in the Elkhead Mountains of Colorado. This route description will provide information on the most difficult, and final, portion of an ascent of Nipple Peak via the Northeast Face route. The northeast face of Nipple Peak includes much varied terrain, but mostly solid rock or snow depending on season intermixed with lots of loose rock and dirt. The face also holds some smaller cliffs and couloirs/gullies that could provide more difficult climbing.

Nipple Peak has a spectacular little summit, with a finger of a summit block to scramble to the top. The block is exciting to climb and on top gives wonderful 360 degree views of much of northwest Colorado.

Round Trip Distance: 3 to 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,100' to 1,800'
Difficulty: Class 3 to 4 depending upon route-finding

These distances include the approach from FR 488 and depend how far up the road is open.

Nipple Peak from Steamboat Lake

Getting There

See the Getting There section of the Nipple Peak page. Also, the hiking description to the base of the Northeast Face route can be found on the Trilby Flats route page.

FAIR WARNING: THE MAPS SUCK. Maps in this portion of the state are notoriously bad. The topo supplied with this route shows the *approximate* location of FR 488 in blue. In green is the *approximate* route taken to the base of the Northeast Face route. Red is the Northeast Face route. Orange is the South Face descent route.

It should be noted that the latest USGS topo quad for this area was updated in 2000 and seems a little bit more accurate. Also, the Routt National Forest map, latest edition, seems to be close. However, older maps are plain wrong.

Northeast Face Route Map

Route Description

From the saddle between Nipple Peak and its southeast ridge, head to the north side of the peak. There you will see a weakness angling westward up the peak. Begin scrambling up the weakness. There is a fair amount of loose rock. The difficulty is Class 3 to 4. Continue up the weakness until most of the north face is below you (warning, this face cliffs out at the bottom). At this point, continue straight on the weakness (class 3ish) or turn left (south) and head directly for the summit (class 4ish). Once near the summit, climb the final summit block by scrambling up the block next to it and reaching across to the summit. Enjoy the view.

Northeast Face Route
Nipple Peak s Summit

Essential Gear

In addition to standard gear:

In the summer, hiking poles.
In the winter, skis/snowshoes, ice axe, crampons, etc.
In the spring, hiking poles, ice axe, and possibly crampons.



Parents refers to a larger category under which an object falls. For example, theAconcagua mountain page has the 'Aconcagua Group' and the 'Seven Summits' asparents and is a parent itself to many routes, photos, and Trip Reports.