Peak(s):  Mt. Herard  -  13,340 feet
"Medano Peak"  -  13,153 feet
Gardner Butte - 7330
Date Posted:  10/23/2011
Modified:  05/18/2012
Date Climbed:   10/23/2011
Author:  Steve Knapp
Additional Members:   jkirk
 Herard Medano Group   

UN 12883
"Medano Peak" (13,153)
Mount Herard (13,340)
UN 12925

10 miles RT, 5,500' gain, 7 hours
From Medano Lake TH (9,600'), Sangre De Cristo
Partners: John and Alyson

On a perfect fall day it was time to get one last trip high into the Sangres. I met up with John and Alyson in Highlands Ranch at 4am and made the long drive to the Medano Lake trailhead via the east side over Medano Pass. The road is decent most of the way, worst on the west side of the pass near the trailhead. It was 30 degrees when we started about 7:30am, clear skies and no wind.


We made good time up the Medano Lake trail, which was mostly dry with a few patches of snow. At about 10,800 we left the trail and bushwhacked steeply NW to treeline. The last 1,000 vertical feet went quickly on the bare, grassy south facing slope of 12883. The summit was reached about 10am. It worked well to do this group of four peaks in this direction this time of year. I was concerned about possible deep snow on the north side of Medano and Herard, but it had been two weeks since the last storm and the snow was mostly blown off or compacted. The gaiters never came out.

Medano Peak:

Next up was Medano Peak. It was over 1,000' of gain from the saddle and I was feeling it a bit, I haven't been above 13k since early September in the Gore Range. From Medano we continued our loop over to Mt. Herard which had even more snow on it. The descent of Herard was a bit tricky with quite a bit of snow and a cornice on the ridge. From the last saddle it was an easy hike to the top of 12925. It was interesting to look down onto the Great Sand Dunes, I've got to get in there sometime and play on the sand.

Mount Herard:

John and Alyson on Mt. Herard summit:

Zoom to the Crestone Group:

From 12925 we followed the long NE ridge to treeline and then descended steeply down the north slopes. Here there was a foot of snow from the last storm and it was great to bash quickly down through it, making for a speedy descent. We regained the trail and reached the trailhead by 2:30 in time to learn the Broncos had pulled off an amazing win in Miami. Tebow time! I'll be at the game Sunday, we'll see how they fare against the surprising Lions.


A look back to Medano Peak:

Medano Lake (swimming season nearly over):

Since it was so early there was still more peaks we could do. 9540 and 9335 were pretty easy from a couple miles east of the pass. We couldn't figure out a decent way down to 9611 without spending the rest of the day doing it so we skipped that one. On to Gardner Butte, which was a really fun 4th class climb. Then we finished the day with a sunset climb of North Rattlesnake Butte, about 15 miles out onto the Plains. At 6,450 this peak was nearly 7,000 feet lower than Mt. Herard. Quite the variety, and a nice 8-peak day!

Gardner Butte:

Topo for Medano/Herard group:

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