Peak(s):  "West Partner Peak"  -  13,041 feet
"East Partner Peak"  -  13,057 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2011
Modified:  08/09/2011
Date Climbed:   08/06/2011
Author:  lordhelmut
 Partner Traverse   

Peak L ("Necklace Peak")

This is Peak L, unofficially considered to be the "sentinel" of the Eastern Gores. This peak exemplifies all that is appealing of the Gores. Solitude, aesthetics, many miles deep in the heart of Slate Creek Basin, solid rock and classic scrambling to name a few pros. This peak, along with Q, C, Z, East Thorne, the pinnacles of Zodiac Ridge and The Spider the The Fly, are most of the most iconic in the entire state and tend to strike a cord in the hearts of local enthusiasts.

Ben and I had a window of opportunity to hit a nice ridge run Saturday, and the weather forecast was finally looking positive. On Monday, we emailed our buddy Rick (mtnfiend), seeking his interest level in advance. Monday the itinerary read simply the Partner Traverse (12-13 miles and 5000 vertical). By Wednesday, we were thinking of adding nearby 12er Pk.K and 13er Mt.Solitude to the mix. Once Friday morning rolled around, this all was nearly set in stone and by the afternoon, we figured we'd throw in Outpost Peak and call it a nice Pitkin Lake Traverse. Ben eventually figured there are 24 hours in a day and we're not getting any younger, so he began to venture in to neighboring basins, asking if including "The Saw" over to Pk.P, Q, J, "Spider" and "Fly" was feasible. The sky was beginning to become the limit and ours eyes would prove to be quite a bit bigger than our stomachs.

The 3 of us rolled in to the Pitkin Lake Trailhead, or shall I say East Vail condominium parking lot, around 6am and Rick began feeling a little loopy....

Ricardo Juan Gonazalez

After some light, brief drizzle, we were on the trail around 6:30am, expecting to run some serious ridges. The approach to Pitkin Lake is marked as 4.4 miles. So is Deluge Lake, Booth Lake and the basin to North Traverse via Bighorn Creek. It seems like whoever came up with that measurement went up one trail and called it good on all the surrounding basins, figuring nobody is going to bother with the Gores anyway.

After passing multiple campsites worth a return visit, we saw our access point to the SE ridge stemming off of the imposing East Partner Peak. Given our endurance levels these days, "Mount Solitude" looked a decent distance away, and along with our uncertainty of the ridge from Solitude to East Partner, we figured we'd save it for another time.

We snacked first though and what was on the menu? Why the ever so trustworthy High Fructose Corn Syrup, 99 cent orange Kroger Brand fruit slices from Beef Filler Soopers. The title deserves to be in all caps, cause it is a staple of the American diet. We enjoyed it for its temporary nourishment, as displayed here by Ben....

Ben and his artificial supplements

Salt N'Vinegar Pringles, Kit Kat's and the standard Planter's Gorp were also on the menu for the day, nothing out of the ordinary. No Whole Foods Bulk Items this go around, we decided to get more bang for our buck.

Something must've seeped in to Rick's brain from that sombrero he was touting earlier that morning, he couldn't seem to stop dancing around like Pancho Villa after too many shots of Don Julio....


And here's a shot without Ricardo in the way...


We made way for the SE shoulder of East Partner, and made sure to admire the views along the way..

Land of Ponds

East Partner

East Partner w/ Ben in foreground for size

The scrambling as we neared the summit got pretty interesting, legitimate class 3, with some short spots of 4, all on solid rock.

Scrambling below the summit

The summit of East Partner was all ours. According to the register, we were the first to set foot on it since September of 2009, but I happen to know for a fact others that have graced its slopes since then. Needless to say, this felt like a well earned and unique summit.

Ben looking to the NW from summit of E.Partner

Ben and Rick were touting some new softshell jackets from Patagonia and GoLite respectively. This inspired a quick debate about the bend over and take it prices of some companies, such as Arcteryx (better known as "Reach Around'Teryx").

The debate ended and the traverse began. It was a stout start, but tamed out quick and remained that way for the better part of the first half of the ridge.

tedious downclimbing


We reached the saddle and the Silence of the Lambs quoting session began. After our best Anthony Hopkins and Clarice Starling impressions, we took a quick break on the wide, grassy saddle.

Hello Clarice.....

Up till this point, we were all a tad confused as to the difficulty rating of the Partner Traverse, we were feeling a tad unfulfilled. Well, someone must've been listening. The second half of the traverse was humbling to put it lightly. Numerous mandatory rappels, upclimbing, tedious downclimbing, knife edge traversing, 3 cruel false summits and 3 hours later, we topped out on the summit of West Partner Peak.

The pics tell the tale better than I can.


Ben rapping

more rapping




Slate Creek Basin

Peak Q

Ben thinking he's on the true summit

Ben now on the real summit

This was some of the most tedious ridge travelling I had even seen. Rick's 30M 8.0 diameter rope got some decent usage (I recommend it for anyone interested, travelling from East to West) and a prolonged knife edge with nothing but 500 feet of air to our left and 1000 to our right kept our attention for the last 2/3rds. It was one hell of a ridge, that's for sure.

It was 4pm by the time we topped out on West Partner, literally standing in the heart of the Gores. We could see 95% of the peaks in the entire range and enjoyed another summit all to ourselves.

The descent off West Partner was not all that fun, eventually making it down to the lake within a hour. We really were missing our skis at this point. What could've been a 60 minute ski to the car in the Spring turned in to a knee bashing 3 and a half hour slog. We reached the car just before darkness and made a beeline to Wendy's where we feasted on the dollar menu (more like the 1.49$ menu) before heading back to Denver. Ben proceeded to cold cock himself in the face and stuck his head completely out the window to avoid falling asleep, but we made it nonetheless. A 10 hour shuteye and a growler of Bull and Bush Root Beer was awaiting me in the fridge as I proceeded to guzzle that stuff like Forrest Gump and his 16 Dr. Peppers at the White House College Football All-American award ceremony.

A parting shot....

Pitkin Lake and E.Partner

Now if you excuse me, I'm going to check under my bed for Lord Gore......

p.s. The photoshopped shots are the work of Benners. He finally put his program to some good use and although highly saturated, I like the way they turned out, and had no problem putting them in this TR. Just a quick disclaimer.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25

Comments or Questions
Damn Camera
08/09/2011 13:16
I think photoshop and cameras in general just hate me, as this TR demonstrates what amazing pics (esp the one of the lake) that camera CAN take, lol.

Nice work all around dudes. What'd it turn out to be, 15 hours or so? Looks like a great day out in some seclusion.

Liver and fava beans?
08/09/2011 15:03
Whatever Senor Rick was having, it looks like it works.
That's a first class day in a first class range.
Well done, guys.
Brian, this is a great TR with lots of personality, as always.
Nice entry into the TR photoshop derby, Ben!

08/09/2011 15:07
Good to see you back in the hills. Looking forward to the next couple of trips.

Wowzers ...
08/09/2011 15:29
What beautiful photos and great ”action” shots, Brian (what?!?!? no face time for you ... give up the camera next time ). Congrats to all three of you ... gotta love a ”full day” in the mountains (and ”sans boards” no less ). Thanks for posting. Happy trails!

08/09/2011 15:31
Great picture, great TR, makes me want to go there now. That rock looks gorgeous. Looks like some significant route finding challenges. Nicely done!

The Gores Are Sweet
08/09/2011 16:26
Nice TR dude. I'm liking the Gores more and more every time I head in there. Thanks for the comments on the shots, I'm still not sure how I feel about Photoshopping shots but the program is expensive as hell so it's not a bad way to get some use out of it.

Looking forward to another one fellas!

Yo quiero mas de......El Gores!!
08/09/2011 18:02
Nuf said.

He shoots and scores...
08/09/2011 19:03
Looks like another solid outing, helmut. I assume this crew was not responsible for those cans of Ranger IPA I found in your trash two weekends ago?

re: Lord Gore

I think Laurence Olivier sums it up best in Marathon Man when he asks Dustin Hoffman the following:

”Is it safe?”

very nice!
08/09/2011 21:38
This traverse interests me. Thanks for posting, nice TR (and photos) as usual Brian!

Chicago Transplant
Solid Outing
08/09/2011 21:59
Good solid work in the Gores, I love those peaks but haven't done them together yet, might have to remedy that problem one of these days...

08/10/2011 03:33
I'm more than impressed and a bit jealous of your adventures. I just hiked up Vista Point and Mt. Solitude, and the views in that direction were sensational. Keep up the great work!

08/11/2011 01:07
...the Gores...someday, someday. But first I need to pull my head away from the Indian Peaks 12ers and that's tough to do right now.

Enjoyable read. Love those scrambling action pics! And Peak L, Q, and the Partners are some good looking peaks. Land of Ponds...for sure...

08/13/2011 17:08
Looks like an awesome range, I need to get into the gores soon!

Point and Shoots
08/18/2011 15:06
Thanks for the comments, it was a classic Gore-geous day.

Matt - Senor Rick, good one. No nice bottles of Chianti up there though.

Presto - wowzers is what we thought when we found the trailhead pavement comfortable after a 15 hour day.

rickinko - the rock was gorgeous indeed, thanks for the comments.

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