Northwest Face

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
Route Type:
Steep hike/scramble
Time Required:
One to two days
class 3

Route Quality: 1 Votes

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Created On: Nov 5, 2005
Last Edited On: Nov 5, 2005


Total Round Trip Distance & gain-22.8 miles & 4,850-ft
Distance to Upper Slate Lake 9.2 miles and 2,370-ft
Upper Slate Lake to Peak Q--- RT and & gain 4 miles & 2,200-ft
Upper Slate Lake to Peak Q and R---RT 6 miles & 3,400-ft

From the Boulder Creek TH, hike southwest 1.9 miles to the signed Gore Range Trail (39°43.364' N, 106°10.991' W.) Hike the Gore Range Trail north 3.5 miles to the signed Slate Creek Trail (39°45.772' N, 106°11.686' W.) Take the Slate Creek Trail 3.25 miles to Slate Lake or Lower Slate Lake (39°44.713' N, 106°14.592' W.) There is good camping here. From here, the trail becomes steeper, and the last mile to Upper Slate Lake will cover 1000-ft. When you reach the Upper Slate Lake, look for good camping about .2 miles southwest of northeasterly end of the lake (39°44.452' N, 106°15.830'.) I recommend this to be “basecamp” for the next few days.

The trail system above Upper Slate Lake is basically void. The bushwhacking above and beyond the lake is as tough as is gets. There is “tough bushwhacking” and there is “tough Gore Range bushwhacking,” be prepared for the Gore Range kind. It will be dense and likely wet.

There is a faint trail that runs parallel to the banks of Upper Slate Lake but it ends quickly. There is loose talus field, south and above the lake. Climb south up and out of the difficult treed lower ramparts by the lake. Traverse the north slopes of Peak S for 1.5 miles to a place where the north ridge of Peak R terminates in the basin, just south of “South American Lake.” Hike grassy benches into the area below the R & Q saddle.

Route Description

Locate the saddle between Peak R and Q and ascend the talus slope a half mile & 700-ft. This slope will retain snow well into August. From the slope, try to locate a series of grass ledges that traverse and cut across the northwest of Peak R. Locating these ledges is key to the route. From Peak Q, these ledges are easy to spot. Leave the slope at 12,300-ft and hike on grassy ledges across the northwest face. Hike toward the north ridge and locate a steep grass and talus filled gully and ascend it to about 12,800-ft. From here, climb out of the gulley and on to the north ridge. Staying as close to the ridge crest.

Northwest Face

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