Wasatch Mountain from the slopes of La Junta Peak
Wasatch Mountain and La Junta from T 11Wasatch Mountain
is a tricentennial peak close to beautiful town of Telluride
. It combines really well with La Junta Peak
and Unnamed 13145 "Jackass Point". (Tricentennial - among the highest 300 in Colorado). To reach its summit you can either hike directly from Telluride, or you can drive a part way up Black Bear Pass Road and park at the Bridal Veil hydro electric station. The advantage of driving to Bridal Veil hydro electric station is that you get great views of Bridal Veil Falls. Bridal Veil falls is 365 foot = 111 meters waterfall. It is also a popular ice climbing fall in the winter and a tough one. Another advantage of the drive is that you start at a higher elevation and your hike will be slightly shorter.
Guide to the Colorado Mountains with Robert Ormes (sort of a Bible of Colorado Mountains) briefly mentions Wasatch Mountain. “The Wasatch Trail rejoins the East Fork Trail at 12,000’. The main summit of Wasatch Mountain (13,555’) is a steep but straightforward climb 0.75 mile to the east from this point. The converged trail ascends steadily 1.5 miles southeast to a 13,080’ pass south of Wasatch Mountain, separating Bear Creek and Bridal Veil basin."
Colorado Rank: 214
From the town of Telluride, drive through the main street = Colorado Avenue through the town. Continue on the same road towards Bridal Veil Falls
. The road becomes Black Bear Pass road. This road will climb through several switchbacks and then levels when approaching Hydro electric station above Bridal Veil Falls.
Bridal Veil Falls.
As any mountain, there are different ways to get up. I chose Bridal Veil Basin Approach since there was a fresh snow fall, and I went alone as usual for me. It was easy class 2 outing, and I did not see a soul for the whole day.
Bridal Veil Basin Approach - From the parking area above Bridal Veil Falls, pass through an opening in a gate and continue on an old mining road. The road steadily climbs up. At about 1.5 miles in, the road forks, the left leads to Blue Lake. Continue hiking on the less used right fork for ~ another 1.5 miles. Cross the Bridal Veil Creek, climb hillside and reach a bench area below Wasatch Mountain on your right (west). The approach section ends by a couple of small tarns that the road passes by.
Hike up Wasatch: From the tarns, walk uphill west, staying on the south side of the creek, and head in the direction of the Wasatch - La Junta saddle. The walking is easy, mostly on tundra with some rocky sections here and there. There is a heart shaped tarn below the saddle - elevation 12,815 feet. Climb13ers.com is describing route from the saddle to NNE ridge of Wasatch. The elevation at the saddle is 13,060 feet. I chose to ascend east slopes and intersect the north ridge higher up. It seemed easier with the fresh snow and there was less snow on the east slopes when compared to north side of the mountain. The route finding was very obvious.
Via Bear Creek Trail and Wasatch Trail - I have not done this hike all the way to Wasatch trail, only Bear Creek section. This is a beautiful hike which starts right in Telluride. Elevation at the start of the trailhead is 8,800 feet, so expect gaining a lot of altitude. Follow the Bear Creek Trail as it climbs though a forest of aspen and mixed conifers. Reach the junction with Wasatch trail after 2 miles. Turn right (west) at the junction and follow the narrow path as it climbs though switchbacks. At the top of the switchbacks the trail traverses high above the canyon floor for about a mile. Ascend the gully. Bear Creek cascades over rocks and wood debris next to the trail. Near the top of the gully pass the remnants of the Nellie Mine on the right (west) side of the trail. Beyond the mine cross a debris pile caused by a rock slide and come to junction with the East Fork Bear Creek trail for 0.9 miles to meet the Wasatch trail in the upper basin. A sign at the junction higher up points to the continuation of the Wasatch trail, crossing Bear Creek and climbing steeply up meadows over a rocky knoll. The final ascent to the saddle is quite steep, and from there you get great views of San Joaquin Ridge and Silver Mountain. To the east are the peaks and ridge rising above upper Bridal Veil Basin.
Primitive back country camping is always an option if you choose to spend the night in the nature. There are plenty of tarns higher up in Bridal Veil basin offering excellent camping opportunities and amazing vistas.
Developed campgrounds are located along highway 141: Sunshine Campground.