Pomeroy Mtn (13151')
Calico Mtn (12949')
Grizzly Mtn (13708')
"Lo Carb" (13591')-Unranked
Cyclone Mtn (13596')
Carbonate Mtn (13663')
13.4 miles RT, 6260' gain (includes 700' drop due to weather)
From Shavano townsite (10744')
Aug 15, 2008
I decided to take a 3 day weekend to hit some peaks before the summer got away from me. A trip to the southern Sawatch came about at the last minute on the way to a fun weekend in the San Juans. This is a cool loop hike that collects 5 ranked 13ers, 3 of which are bi-centennials! The ridges between these peaks can be kept at class 3, so you can move fairly well.
I drove up FR-200 the night before and found a nice secluded pullout near the old Jennings Creek TH for Tabeguache. I was real worried about being able to pull this off, so a 4:15am start was in order. I drove my car up to the point on the map marked as the Shavano townsite, but I didn't see any old buildings in the dark.
Pomeroy to Grizzly: Traversing in the Clouds
Low clouds in the valley made for some spooky solo hiking in the fog as I headed up the mellow road. At least I couldn't see any beady eyes looking at me! My headlamp was reflecting the fog quite a bit, so at times I couldn't see more than 100 ft in front of me. Visibility finally improved once I reached treeline, which came pretty quick. I was now above the cloud bank and was able to get my bearings towards the first peak of the day, Pomeroy.
I left the road near a mine at 12K' and headed up the steep south slopes of Pomeroy, arriving on the broad summit plateau just as the sun was rising. I was treated to some spectacular clouds which were blowing in from the east.
The clouds then spilled over the ridge I was about to traverse. Now this is how to spend a Friday morning!
The views over to neighbor Sewanee were just as cool.
After a short break, I headed down the ridge to 13070. This ridge had quite a few ups and downs, but it was mostly class 2 with a bit of class 3 scrambling here and there.
The climb up to 13070 was fairly mellow and I was feeling good about my chances at finishing the loop even though clouds were already building to the west. I was hoping the cooler day would keep the electrical fireworks at bay.
I decided to add nearby ranked 12er Calico to the day, a worthy peak less than one mile away from the connecting ridge to Grizzly. It was about one hour round trip over to it, so I was hoping the extra time wouldn't cost me.
I retraced my steps back to the main ridge, heading north to Grizzly. Once again I dropped down into the clouds and popped back out about halfway up Grizzly's south ridge. I kept my stay brief on Grizzly's summit as the weather was uncertain.
Sidehilling to Cyclone and Carbonate
The hardest part of the traverse is skirting some cliff bands on the way to Cyclone, which I choose to do on the right side.
I picked a loose gully and headed back up and all of the sudden it began to hail. This was soon followed by a boom of thunder, so it was time to bail. The descent was painfully slow on talus and scree that reminded me of the San Juans. I dropped about halfway down to the basin and the hail stopped and the sun came back out! Instead of going right back up to the ridge, I decided to do an ascending traverse towards Cyclone, which was a mistake.
This was sidehilling hell on scree. I kept crossing ribs hoping to find a suitable line back up to the ridge. I finally got sick of traversing and just bombed straight up the scree for the last couple hundred feet to the ridge. I ended up skirting below unranked "Low Carb", so I went back up the ridge and tagged it real quick.
The weather was still looking iffy, so I made haste for Cyclone and Carbonate.
My energy was low after wasting it on all of the sidehilling. These were short but steep climbs. I pretty much went right over them without stopping to beat the weather. I descended the steep south ridge of Carbonate and the weather held other than some light graupel for a few minutes. I probably should have descended the gentler Jennings Creek drainage, because my knees took a beating on the talus. This was followed by some steep aspen bushwacking and progress was slow. I finally popped out on the road and arrived back at the car at 3:15. A fun warmup to a long weekend!
Map of route going clockwise: