Mt. Buckskin - Northeast Slope

Difficulty:  Class 2 
Ski: Intermediate+
Ski "D System": D5 / R2 / II  
Summit Elevation: 13,865 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 12,000 feet
Elevation Gain:1,950 feet
Round-trip Length: 3.00 miles
Trailhead: Kite Lake
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Route Added: 05/26/2005
Last Updated: 07/11/2013


Take Colorado 9 to Alma. In the middle of town and on the west side of the road, look for a small sign for the road to Kite Lake. Turn here and drive a bit through a residential area. Continue 6 miles to Kite Lake. The last mile of this road can be a bit more rough, but a good-clearance 2WD should still be able to make it when the road is dry. There are restrooms and some camping spots at the trailhead. You must pay a small fee to park/camp at Kite Lake. If you park below (no fee), walk up the road to Kite Lake.


Taken from Mt. Bross, Photo #1 shows the entire route. Locate the trail to Lake Emma (Photo #2) that leaves the Kite Lake parking area near the outhouse. Follow the good trail west up the hill toward the basin between Mt. Buckskin and Mt. Democrat. Upon reaching the basin, the trail stays on the north side and continues west. Photo #3 shows the view of Buckskin. Near 12,300’, leave the trail and hike south across the basin toward Buckskin. If you leave the trail too early, you will have to walk through the willows on the east end of the basin. Cross one or two small streams and continue south across the basin. Reach the base of the northeast slope at 12,400’. The remaining route climbs the left side of Buckskin’s northeast slope.

Photo #4 shows several ways to begin the ascent. Pick your own route and climb up under the power lines where they turn across the left side of the slope. The steepest portion of this hike is between 12,500’ and 12,700’. Pass the power lines near 12,600’ and continue south toward the left side of the slope. It is not necessary to go all the way to the left edge of the slope. About 100’ above the power lines, the slope flattens out for a bit. The summit is up to the right and 1,000’ of climbing remains - Photo #5.

Follow the left side of the slope as it curves southwest toward the summit ridge. Near 13,600’, the terrain below the summit ridge is pretty simple - Photo #6. You can either climb directly up to the summit ridge or angle west and gradually hike to the summit while crossing the top of the slope. Gain the ridge and walk over to the true summit. Buckskin’s northwest summit is 1/4 mile away - Photo #7. Photo #8 shows Mt. Democrat to the north, and Photo #9 is the view of the summit from Buckskin’s northwest summit.


In spring, Buckskin provides ample skiing if snow is abundant. Intermediate ski terrain can be found in the general area of the hiking route described above. For more advanced terrain, and more continuous snow lines, a ski from the northwest summit is recommended. Check out Photo #10 and Photo #11 for a look at this area. In Photo #11, the most challenging gully descent is shown near the bottom/center of the photo. With continuous snow, it’s an easy ski back to the Kite Lake trailhead.


Under good conditions, most of the northeast slope can be climbed without too much difficulty. It’s mostly Class 2. There is some loose rock on this slope.


Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11