Ogalalla Express

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 40.17030°N / 105.6659°W
Additional Information Route Type: Scrambling
Additional Information Time Required: A long day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


I will describe this route as a descent route from the summit of Ogalalla Peak. Further, my description will assume that little or no snow is left in the couloir. I'll be happy to integrate information about the other options and conditions. In the meanwhile, if you plan to climb Ogalalla Express with snow, please consult Roach's excellent IPW guide. I do not recommend an ascent after the snow has melted. On the other hand, as a descent route for climbers who want to reach the Middle Saint Vrain Trailhead, Ogalalla Express has the advantage of being faster than the east ridge. Moreover, it's better not to plan a late afternoon ridge traversal unless the weather is good and stable. With the premises in place, it only remains to point to the East Ridge route as a way to approach the start of Ogalalla Express.

Route Description

Ogalalla Express follows the evident gully that descends to the southeast of the main summit. In late summer most snow has melted in the gully and the route is a descent on rather steep scree and talus. From the summit you can see the wide upper mouth of the gully reaching the Continental Divide. Walk a short distance due southwest and turn left into the gully at the earliest point that is convenient. Generally keep left (north) under the walls of Ogalalla Peak except for a couple of occasions where a dogleg is required to avoid cliffing out.

During the descent you constantly see a small lake, unofficially named Pika Lake, that appears to have the shape of a diamond. The route passes to the right (south) of Pika Lake and there it connects with the Middle Saint Vrain Glacier Trail. Aim therefore for the lake, picking your way through the boulders to avoid a few obvious cliffs. The slope relents once you get out of the gully, but the going remains rather slow for the mile or so that separates the summit at 13,138 ft from Pika Lake at 10,920 ft. Skirt the lake on the right, avoid the krummholz by staying close to the bank, do a little final boulder hopping at the outlet of the lake, and spot the cairns on the right (south) side of the stream. Once on the trail, the pace picks up, and there are only nine miles left to the end of your journey!

Essential Gear

Standard hiking equipment. Sturdy shoes recommended. Rockfall is a possibility in the gully. You may want to bring a helmet.

Miscellaneous Info

If you have information about this route that doesn't pertain to any of the other sections, please add it here.



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