Upon laying eyes on Tepee Mountain for the first time two things popped into my head. First: that is one really cool looking mountain, and second: what was Gerry Roach smokin' when he called the north ridge a class-2, talus hike! Instead I found it a challenging class-3 scramble with several class-4 moves thrown in for good measure.
Tepee Mountain resides just south of Mount Richtofen on the long north-south ridge that makes up the lion's share of the Never Summer Range (this ridge also divides RMNP on the east and Never Summer Wilderness on the west). Tepee Mountain consists of two separate summits and the western one is slightly higher. From what I could tell the western summit is easiest to climb. It does not look possible to scramble between the two summits as the eastern summit has a sheer rock wall where it connects to the saddle that joins the two.
|North Ridge - Start from Agnes Lake and make as if to Climb Mount Richtofen. Instead contour around the south side of Richtofen until you hit the Richtofen-Tepee ridge. Follow the class 3+ ridge to the summit.|
|North Facing Couloir - Start from either American Lakes Trailhead or Colorado River Trail and hike up into the basin between Richtofen and Tepee. The 500-ft couloir makes for a good early-season snow climb. However the rock is rotten so when the snow melts out the couloir should be avoided. Paraphrased from Gerry Roach's RMNP guide.|
|South Ridge - Start from Colorado River Trailhead and hike into Skeleton Gulch. Ascend the saddle between Tepee Mountain and Lead Mountain. Then scramble to Tepee's western summit.|
|Agnes Lake - From Interstate 25, take the Fort Collins exit for Highway 14, also denoted as a Colorado Scenic Byway. Proceed west on 14 through town, following the signs, which is not complicated. At "Ted's Place," is the junction with Highway 287. Measure from this point, although the signage along the highway is very clear. It is 62 miles to the turn off for Lake Agnes and American Lakes. This turn off is 2 miles west from the top of Cameron Pass. This left turn is well marked. Once you've dropped into the valley, you'll need to stop at a fee station. See the RED TAPE section. Proceed up the road, staying right. The road is steep and a little rough in places but most vehicles can make this road in dry conditions. There are restroom facilities at the trailhead. |
|American Lakes Trailhead - From Fort Collins go north on Highway 287 to “Ted’s Place” and turn west onto Highway 14. Follow Highway 14 for 62 miles over the top of Cameron Pass. Turn left off Highway 14 at the sign for Lake Agnes and American Lakes. This turn off is 2 miles west from the top of Cameron Pass. This left turn is well marked. Once you've dropped into the valley, you'll need to stop at a fee station. See the RED TAPE section. Proceed up the road, staying left. In less than a mile you’ll run into a gate and the parking area at the trailhead. |
|Colorado River Trailhead - From Estes Park take Highway 36 through Beaver Meadows Entrance Station. Highway 36 becomes Highway 34 and is known as Trail Ridge Road. Follow Trail Ridge Road over the continental divide. When the road drops down along the Colorado River look for the Colorado River Trailhead on your left. Note that Trail Ridge Road is closed all winter and can close at any time (even during the summer) due to bad weather. Contact Rocky Mountain National Park if you think there is any risk of it being closed. |
Although located on the border between RMNP and Never Summer Wilderness most climbers will approach through Colorado State Forest. Day use fees for Colorado State Forest are $5.00 per vehicle. No camping is allowed in the Agnes Lake area. Lake Agnes looks like good fishing but there is a two-trout limit.
For more information concerning Colorado's State Forest and other state parks visit their website: Colorado State Forest
Never Summer Wilderness is pretty much regulation-free (besides leave-no-trace wilderness ethics) but RMNP has many regulations if you plan to camp in the park or access Tepee Mountain from a trailhead inside the park.
When To Climb/Mountain Conditions
To avoid large amounts of snow Tepee Mountain is best climbed July through October. That said, it might be nice to climb earlier in the season so that the climb up to the Richtofen-Mauler saddle could be made a snow climb. This would be much easier than the scree/talus slug that this part of the ascent is when there is no snow. The one caveat to this is that you couldn't go too early such that Tepee's north ridge would be covered in snow. This would make the later part of the ascent much more treacherous.
For the latest conditions contact RMNP or Route National Forest.
The weather forecast for Gould (the nearest town) is given below:
Camping is not allowed in the Agnes Lake area. However there is a designated campground (Crags Campground) just down the road. You'll pass its turnout on your way to Agnes Lake.
Camping in RMNP is allowed in designated campsites only and
requires a permit.
Camping in Never Summer Wilderness is allowed anywhere and does not require a permit.
Contact Routt National Forest
USDA Forest Service
Medicine Bow-Routt National Forests
2468 Jackson Street
Laramie, WY 82070
*e-mail messages will be responded to in the order received and usually within 24 hours of receipt.
Rocky Mountain National Park
1000 Highway 36
Estes Park, CO 80517-8397
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