Peak(s):  Keller Mountain  -  13,085 feet
Date Posted:  05/31/2012
Date Climbed:   05/27/2012
Author:  lordhelmut
Additional Members:   XC Snowboarder, Summit Lounger, d_baker
 Keller playing hard to get   

Keller Mountain (13,085)
Route : Southeast Face
Mileage : 10-11 miles
Vertical : 4500
Time : 9 hrs 45 min
Climbers : Darin (d_baker, spelled with 1 R), Greg (Summit Lounger, aptly named) and Marc (i.e. Carl's neighbor, i.e. XC Snowboarder, i.e. A person with a conscience who used to climb cool stuff until some lawyer poisoned his mind and conned him into skiing all the 14ers, i.e. A person who didn't initially set off to board all the 14ers, leaving shitty ones behind and having no partners to do them with now)

The Gores

That's about as artistic of a shot as you are going to see in this trip report. Truth of the matter is Keller Mountain wasn't as euphoric of a climb as some in the past, but it was a classic in other ways. The Gores aren't always friendly, they don't always grant you easy passage. They can provide you with quite a bit of joy, but they can also teach you a lesson if need be. It's the former of that statement that keeps you coming back for more. There is no real list to follow, other than the peaks and the basins themselves. Most times, when promoting this fine range, I can't tell if I'm receiving raised eyebrows of intrigue or insanity. When chance comes for you to show off the mysterious, ominous and fascinating range, you strike and hope your virgin companions are ready to tackle an adventure. As Yvon Chouinard said "It's not an adventure until something goes wrong".

Darin sent out a group email before the long weekend, fishing for Gore bait. He got a few bites. Myself, Marc, Darin and Greg all met up at the Silverthorne Outlets parking lot at 5am and piled in to Marc's Taco for the short ride up route 9 to the Rock Creek Trailhead at 9500 feet. Quick note on the road. Despite a few passenger vehicles making it to the trailhead parking lot, the once 2wd road in to Rock Creek has deteriorated a tad since 2010. Just a small observation.

We hit the trail around 6am and crossed the Gore Range Trail soon enough (it's a few hundred yards from the parking lot). We were greeted with mildly aesthetic views not too long after :

Valhalla and Rock Creek Valley

The Boss Mine is the only remnants of commercial mining in the Gore Range. Unfortunately, we were 115 years late, or else we'd all be rollin' in silver riches. All that remained was an ugly, scree filled hill that served as our cue to head left or right.

Once we hit the Boss Mine, our goal was to hit a snow line on the SE Face, so we dropped down and traversed left. In hindsight, dropping all the way down and hiking along the creek in the open woods would've been a lot nicer than trying to side hill and maintain unnecessary elevation. We hit too many bushwacking sections and boulder fields to make it worth our time.

The BushRanger

The side of Grand Traverse you don't see too often

Greg was setting a grueling pace. Had this been "The Oregon Trail", I'm pretty sure I would've fallen gravely ill with the measles, Darin would've missed all the bear and squirrel he shot at and Marc would've died from dysentery. I can see why his name is Summit LOUNGER, as he has a pension to float on ahead and "lounge" as his comrades catch up. Kind of like here....


And here

The Summit Lounger

After more traversing than we bargained for, we reached the base of whatever snowclimb looked the most fun, and the most feasible, as there were a number of options. We'd end up choosing wisely. Starting up......

Beginning the chute

We faced off with some mellow mixed sections early on and throughout.....

Getting creative

melted out

About halfway up, the chutes forked. Greg, in lead, chose to head left. With a booter kindly provided by Mr. Stem Cell Cocktail, we chose to follow. The climb steepened as we climbed up and up, but this didn't phase Mr. Stem Cell Cocktail, so he chose to find something more suited to his liking, in this case a rib with some decent exposure. Again, with the established booter, we graciously followed. Just as the couloir reached nipple tingling status, it ended. Oh well, great climb though.

getting narrow

getting steep

wouldn't want to fall here

Now it was time to find the elusive Keller. Is this it over here Darin wonders?

Darin and Pt. 13,055

The map seems to think so, looking to the right is overrated anyway, let's go check it out. ADD kicked in and we all simply admired the view of whatever point we were resting on. Greg asked to take a look at the map. After a good couple minutes, we decided we weren't on Keller, but rather Unnamed 13,055, a mere point along the ridge between Keller and North Traverse Peak (in our defense, the Keller massif is kind of complicated, specially from below). All I could think about at that point in time was Furthermore's combo of Keller to Snow Peak and how assannine it all seemed to me now.

The views.....

Northwestern Gores - name all these peaks and Lord Gore will pick up your next post-climb tab

Peak L - aptly named

Southern Gores

Valhalla - still skiable apparently

Anyways, Keller is over here (what a tease)....

Where we are supposed to be

A short jaunt later, we reached the summit and then prepared for a Tour de Keller down the East Ridge. Along the way we scouted some Gore Couloir Classics...


Zebra Strip


I'd tell you what these are, but then I'd have to kill ya.

The descent off the ridge proved easier than expected and we regained the Boss Mine trail before we knew it. We got to that section of the trail where we started seeing the type of people that give you signs that you are close to the car. A box of Dunkin Donuts awaited us. I went to college in New England and was so engulfed by this chain, I almost felt like Ted Kazinsk'ing them in to orbit. Now that I'm out here, I've gone to such lengths to make pilgrimages to the Springs to obtain a 12-pack of Boston Cremes. Funny how something as simple as a geographical location can completely change your perspective. With that being said, I don't care where I live. Qdoba, Red Lobster and Applebee's will always suck. Then again, I'm a firm believer that a reasonable man could live solely off Chipotle, Jimmy Johns, Peppermint Patties, Salt N' Vinegar chips and Ginger Ale for the rest of his life without issue, so what do I know?

Marc and Greg parted ways back at the Outlets, but Darin and I had some unfinished business at Chimayo Mexican Grill in Dillon. The Brovilles at the counter seemed to be only half awake on this day, but the meals proved worthy enough for a mountain man's appetite. I bidded Darin farewell and godspeed on his next assignment in Texas (poor guy) and headed on home with a storm lingering overhead.

Edit : Hate to end on a bad note, but it was confirmed recently that Jesse Peterson of Alma (a member of, drowned in Willow Lake in that canoe accident in the Sangres. Jesse was another Gore enthusiast and his daytrip account of the Boulder Lake trio a couple years was a fine example of his passion for the range and to showcase his very above average photography skills. RIP Jesse, sorry we were never able to get out.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

Comments or Questions
Gotta love the Gores!
05/31/2012 11:52
Nice one!

Helen Keller
05/31/2012 13:02
Would not have found the right summit as quickly as you all.
Nice job.

Love the Gores!
05/31/2012 13:22
Nice day trip dudes, and nice writeup Brian.

”(i.e. Carl‘s neighbor, i.e. XC Snowboarder, i.e. A person with a conscience who used to climb cool stuff until some lawyer poisoned his mind and conned him into skiing all the 14ers, i.e. A person who didn‘t initially set off to board all the 14ers, leaving shitty ones behind and having no partners to do them with now)”

F'ing hilarious.

I can't decide whether we can be friends
05/31/2012 13:52
Pro: You love Dunkin' Donuts Boston Cremes...possibly the finest fried dough I've ever tasted

Con: Chipotle over Qdoba

Well you provide excellent TR's so two pros vs. just one con. I guess it'll work.

Agree with Ben
05/31/2012 14:26
that is funny.

Looked like another fun day guys, well done!!

Marc's aliases...
05/31/2012 14:59
Flippin awesome, Brian. Love it.

Nice report, man. Want to explore Keller at some point. Nice job in exploring an alternate ascent up rather than the standard east ridge. Hope you are well.

"Mr. Stem Cell Cocktail"...
05/31/2012 15:14 that‘s a good one. I‘ve always referred to Greg (behind his back, of course) as Bishop, i.e., the android from Aliens, because the guy's speed is simply inhuman.

Great TR Brian. Full of classic helmut wit. Looks like a fun, spicy day out with a great crew.

Luv me some Gore Range
05/31/2012 15:47
So very different than the approach from the Bighorn TH.

Nice route!
05/31/2012 16:35
Does the offer in pic 14 stand for a fellow Gore Enthusiast? Great TR Brian, that East Ridge is pretty fun. Imagine heading into Slate after that climb and you can empathize with my pain a few years ago.

Nice job guys!
05/31/2012 16:45
I'll have to do this peak for namesake! Agree with Sarah - full of helmut wit! ”Stem cell cocktail” gave me a good laugh! And, ”Keller a tease?!”

Let's do some Gore stuff this summer! Great TR and photos as usual!

Last night...
05/31/2012 17:39
my neighbor stopped by and told me about how you struggled to find Keller's summit even with directions and help from your friends. Can't say I'm too surprised. On an unrelated note, don't think that all these recent 13ers and Gore Range Peaks will deter XC Snowboarder from following this heart next Spring and riding a bunch of lame 14ers. Wouldn't surprise me if your hopeful convert Mr. Benners even joins him. Speaking of 14er skiing, hope yours goes well this weekend. Can't say you don't tell a good tale. I sure enjoyed the read.

30 Seconds Over Gnarl-land...
05/31/2012 18:00
Good to see a bunch of guys I have hiked with finally get out together.

We were calling Greg ”The Terminator” after watching him accelerate up Tigiwon Road while pulling a sled. What is scary is he moves quicker on crappy terrain.

You wouldn't want to throw rocks at that guy's house because he'd haul you down.

I might have to pick up some peppermint patties for this weekend. Zingers are underrated but kind of nasty.

I hope you guys have good weather next week. Be safe.

On a side note (and I'll probably get chastised for this), well played Carl...

Chicago Transplant
05/31/2012 18:28
That Keller Mtn is a tease from the west too, I climbed it from Bighorn in Vail and remember wondering when the true summit was going to appear, a nice fun ridge run with lots of little scramble sections, and nice views the whole way.

Gore Goods
05/31/2012 20:22
Thanks for the laughs Brian! Typical Helmut report. You came through!
Fun day out with good partners, and a Gore peak to boot. Doesn't get much better, does it?
No. It does not.

An image of Mr Stem Cell Cocktail/Terminator/Lounging dude...making it look easy:

Helmut, clearly in awe at Mr. Stem Cell Cocktail's speed

A blended alphabet look....

Valhalla ski
05/31/2012 20:32
Forgot to add this one, taken from Red Pk B's summit on Monday.
I'm pretty sure it's Valhalla's summit snow field, and it's just waiting...

05/31/2012 20:41

05/31/2012 21:11
Interested in Valhalla this weekend? Yeah. That would be cool. You people can ski down while I mosey on over to Snow. Great plan, no?

Thanks all
05/31/2012 22:14
Jay521 - thanks man! Gotta love em

Matt - Helen Keller would have some trouble indeed. Is it still too soon to find light humor in that? (its been 60 years)

SuperPolack - I'll try and forget you said that. Qdoba is dog food. Thanks for the comment. If you like fried dough, head to Lamar's.

Rick/Ben - 24 hours my friends

ATMEMT - Always nice to change things up. Eastern side is just as unique

Floyd - offer still stands my friend. You must've had some xtra stiff stem cell cocktails to think Keller was a nice addition to an approach in to Slate. And yes, the helmet is already finding its way back to the shop for repairs as it literally fell apart already. Yes, I am abusing the REI return policy. Sue me!

Caroline - haha. I'd say something witty, but it might just came across as sleazy, so I'll just say thank you.

Sarah - classic Bishop reference. Glad you didn't say ”Ash” from the original, as Greg is obviously a much nicer guy. Between that and the Talking Heads reference from the La Garitas, you and Kevin are on fire. Thanks!

Kevin - Do you and Carl have a secret pact goin over there that I'm unaware of? Blasphemy. And yes, peppermint patties over Zingers is a no brainer.

Carl - your neighbor was part of the problem, not the solution. He was having just as much trouble trying to guide his way in there.

Mike - I'm glad we didn't go from Bighorn, the ridge looked long enough from Pt. 13,055

DArin - Thanks for the extra shots. Great getting out with you finally.

Monster5 - I'll be out of town. Goodluck if you go and take some shots of Valhalla's summit snow field if its still in please.

Climbers intro!
06/01/2012 01:53
Amazing. Well crafted anti 14erhigh humer!

Crush it on the trip fellas

Summit Lounger
A virgin no more!
06/01/2012 18:09
Brian, thanks for breaking me in to the Gore range. It is a great place with so many peaks that fly below the radar. I have to admit that I was pretty nervous about our first climb together. That is why I enlisted the help of some cocktails. I wanted to control my nervous energy, but after an hour of the approach, when we started to bushwack, I lost control. I could not keep my legs from going faster and faster, floating over the talus. I was hoping to cool down once we got on the snow, but my legs would not listen. There was too much heat built up already.

It was great climbing with everyone, especially Darin Has Mark read the report? He might want to defend himself......

06/01/2012 21:04
Sure can be elusive, eh Brian?

Awesome report. Love the shots, and the first one definitely is a winner. You gotta start getting these up on your yet-to-be-made site Brian.

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