South Slopes

Page Type Page Type: Route
Location Lat/Lon: 39.12860°N / 106.4824°W
Additional Information Route Type: Hiking
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall
Additional Information Time Required: Most of a day
Additional Information Difficulty: Class 2
Sign the Climber's Log


Overall Round Trip Distance: 10 miles
Total Vertical Gain: 3,700'

This hike begins at the Halfmoon Creek Trailhead (10,240') described under "getting there", approximately 2 miles west of the Mt Massive Trailhead just south of Lake County 11. Cross North Halfmoon Creek on a mulit-log bridge and follow the 4WD road as it rises along the South Halfmoon Creek drainage. Take care on the bridge as it is a little wobbly. Continue to follow the road as it passes below Mt Elbert's east face and begins to switchback up to the Iron Mike Mine at 12,560' (approximately 3 miles from the trailhead). The climb starts from the mine.

Route Description

Leave the road at the Iron Mike Mine and cross tundra to the north towards the south slopes of French Mountain. The image below identifies the general path to follow. There may be a small stream in early season as the snow melts off of the peaks above. The ascent route follows a moderately steep scree gully to the left (west) of the main summit above. The gully is straightforward, but is a little bit loose in parts. This gully may be filled with snow in early season. It was dry when I climbed in late July 2004. The top of the gully is the 13,620' saddle with Frasco Benchmark known as "Friscol". There was some lingering snow right at the saddle. From here follow the ridge directly to the summit, approximately 1/4 mile northeast of the saddle. You can descend the same way, or continue over Frasco Benchmark and complete a loop with Casco Peak.

Essential Gear

Summer/Fall: Standard hiking gear, the route is 10 miles RT so bring adequate water, there is water available from the South Halfmoon Creek, but none once above the mine.

Spring: An Ice Axe and Crampons may be useful, the gully that this route climbs may hold snow through June depending on the year

Winter: This route increases dramatically in length as Lake County 11 is usually closed well before the Halfmoon Campground, adding approximately 7 miles each way to reach the trailhead. Avalanches could pose a significant hazard as well.

Miscellaneous Info

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

Route Map

Topographic Map with Annotations for this route

South Slopes Route Map



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