Peak(s):  "Peak L"  -  13,213 feet
Date Posted:  07/31/2012
Modified:  03/30/2013
Date Climbed:   07/28/2012
Author:  d_baker
 L is for Living   

L is for Living...


July 27-29, 2012

Terri Horvath & Darin Baker

"Peak L" (13,213')
Gore Range

Living the Good Life


Trailhead (TH): Brush Creek (4x4 w/clearance is recommended)
Approach: Brush Creek trail --> Gore Range trail --> Slate Lake trail (to Upper Slate Lake)
Note: Trails are well established and marked well at junctions. Once at Upper Slate Lake, braided trails exist on E/SE side of lake, but once beyond the lake trails are "scarce."

Route: SE ridge
Day 1 - Approach: ~10mi's
Day 2 - Climb of Pk L: ~3.5mi's RT (round trip)
Day 3 - Pack out: ~10mi's

Elevation Gain:
Day 1: ~2800'
Day 2: ~2300'
Day 3: ~1000' (regain on way back to TH)

Difficulty: class 3 & 4 rock scrambling w/route finding, on solid rock but with a respectful amount of exposure; don't expect to find many if any cairns
Note: I consider class 4 to be terrain that gets steeper with smaller holds and 5th class climbing technique is sometimes used, and I definitely face in on the down climb; the "route" we were on had all of that

Upper face to gain summit on "Pk L"

(Photo by Terri)

Gear: backpack w/overnight gear (e.g., stove, water filter, sleeping systems, tent & bivy, etc.); helmet; 10 Essentials

Resources Used For Trip Planning: Joe Kramarsic's Mountaineering in the Gore Range: A Record of Explorations, Climbs, Routes, & Names; Dave Cooper's Colorado Scrambles 2nd Edition (directions to TH); Gerry Roach's website; NOAA; TOPO! mapping software


"Peak L" becomes a lustful desire, it lures you in once your eyes are set on its fine lines. At least that is what happened to me. The same would likely be said by any Gore enthusiast. Hell, anyone that loves a good scramble in an alpine setting would get the same urges. From many vantage points from within the range, "Pk L" is like a siren. You will come to her calling...

"Pk L" and Pt. 12,710 in the foreground, taken from a high point S of Usable Pass (May 2012)
From an X, Y, Z tour earlier this month

And more recently, from "Pk H", an angle of L that I had not seen before

"Pk L" is reputable for its solid rock and fun scrambling.
It's also reputable for the long approach.
Therefore, Terri and I packed in for 3 days, with hopeful intentions for other peaks. In the end, Pk L was enough for living it up in the Gore....

Day 1: The Approach

We met in Silverthorne and drove to the TH some miles up the road. En route, we could see the peaks that tower over Slate Creek drainage, with Peak T being the star of the show from the vantage point of HWY 9. "Peak L" and the Gore Thumbs can be seen as well, but wow, is Peak T a sweet looking point! I'll have to climb it.

I leave my truck at the cemetery off of Heeney Road, and load my gear into Terri's XTerra for the drive up the steep and rutted 4x4 road to the TH. We arrive later than anticipated, but we have all day to get to camp. It's a mosquito fest from the get-go. And warm.

A camp is found as soon as we descend down to Upper Slate Lake -- perfectly situated with optimal cooking areas and areas large enough for a tent and a bivy. We're 'home' for the next few days. Rain starts, time to crawl into cover.

Our camp seen from above

(Photo by Terri)

Day 2: The Climb

From our camp, "Pk Q & R" (r. to l. starting from center, respectively) lit up in the morning


We departed from camp a little later than planned -- but oh well. From our camp we followed a trail around the E side of the lake. The trails tend to split but continue to head SW towards the inlet of the lake. The objective is to go beyond the inlet until above the waterfalls while staying climber's left of the waterfall . Once above -- cross over and head to the SW slopes coming off of the connecting ridge of Pk K and Pk L (sometimes referred to as "Necklace Ridge", per Robert Ormes' Gore - Tenmile Atlas).

En route to crossing the top of waterfalls, looking back down on Upper Slate Lake
Aiming for this point on the SW slopes

We cross over the stream, and start ascending the slopes to gain the ridge.
It's a little steep tundra walking, but the views are beautiful!

"Pk R" and "Pk Q" (l. to r.)

Final talus section leading to saddle of ridge between 12,730' and "Pk L"


At the saddle, we take a break


A look around the corner and the next portion of our route


The view from the saddle, looking W/NW; the skyline is the majority of Ripsaw Ridge (Pk C -> Pk H and slightly beyond is in this picture; r. to l.)


We depart from the saddle, with anticipation growing for the scrambling to come! The weather still looks good, even with the later am start. Terri notes the lichen covered granite that is still a little slick from the previous night's rain. We'll need to be a little cautious with our footing.

We went straight to the ridge skyline


We soon found some fun scrambling


Summit stretch is in sight

(Photo by Terri)

But first, some knife edgy terrain to get there


There's a short (~15-20') class 4 down-climb to get to the last small saddle before going up to the summit. At the mini saddle, looking up at the face to get to the summit is sweet! It's also a good point to take a look at the route you intend to take.

Starting out, there's a shallow grassy ramp that provides quick and efficient upward progress. We stayed climber's left near the edge of the ridge, where we found some nice class four scrambling. Our descent line went farther in on the face for easier terrain to down-climb.

Terri coming up the grass ledges


Ladies first on the small summit; no summit dance on this one! ;)


Gore Thumbs & Guyselman (a.k.a., "Pk M")


"Pk R" (12,995') and I believe "East Partner" ("Pk V"; 13,057') behind


"Pk Q" and "South America" lake

(Photo by Terri)

"Pk I" along the ridge in foreground, "Pk G" above, "Pk F" right of center in distance


"Pk C Prime", "Pk C", & Mt Powell; "The Elephant" (12,865') in foreground on left

(Photo by Terri)

Our stay is short. We methodically descend, taking a slightly easier line down the broken rock. Back at the saddle, we decide to start the ridge to "Pk K" and see how the weather behaves. We could see multiple bail options off of the ridge that runs SW to our hopeful destination. We did not summit, but the extended ridge scramble was a fun addition to the day.


Views of "Pk L" were sweet too

(Photo by Terri)

Light rain drops started to fall, and an easy & quick decision was made to just descend. There'll be other days & opportunities to come back for "Pk K" as well as Q, R, S, T, Gore Thumbs, etc....

Off the ridge and lower down, we take a break next to a tarn

(Photo by Terri)

I lead us astray through some willows (move, motherf*ckers!!)

(Photo by Terri)

Back at camp, it was another quick decision that the next day we would forgo a summit attempt of Guyselman and just pack up and hike out. Decision made, next up was about 14hrs of horizontal relaxation - due to rain and of course darkness.

Day 3: The Hike Out

We hiked out. End of story. We got back to TH just as the rain fully unleashed. Well that was fun!

Life is a gift, now live it!

Thanks for reading,

"L" is for...

In July of 1932, Edmund Cooper and Carl Erickson recorded the first known ascent of "Peak C." According to Kramarsic's book and his extensive research, Cooper & Erickson are also credited with the naming of the lettered peaks. They appointed the nomenclature system to the high peaks that surround the Black Creek Valley, starting with A and going through to O. In 1933, the letters P thru T were designated for peaks in the Slate Creek area.

In 1935, a map made by Kenneth Segerstrom "perpetuated the letter designations" (Kramarsic, pg 12) and the nomenclature lettering system of the Gore became the "norm."

It would be another 33 years before the rest of the alphabet was applied to some of the remaining peaks in the Gore.
This came about prior to a CMC (Colorado Mountain Club) wilderness trip. In the Trail & Timberline magazine (published by the CMC), William Mounsey wrote, "Logically the lettering system could be extended to include the peaks around the head of the main Slate Creek, and the alphabet would last just long enough to get the job done." (Kramarsic, pg 116)

Robert Ormes' 1978 Gore-Tenmile Atlas has additional designations for peaks, lakes, ridges, and saddles. He wrote, "since people need handles to call things by, some of them will probably stick" in regards to names placed and/or "given" to geographic features and places on his map.

He (Ormes) also mentions the lettered peaks that the CMC started to perpetuate, and goes further to say, "since then other climbers have given names to several other peaks and to a few lakes, valleys, and passes."

On you may find an additional name for "Pk L" to be "Necklace Peak" - the source most likely stems from the Ormes atlas. Also on the atlas is "Necklace Ridge."

Aforementioned in my report is this ridge, which is the connecting ridge between "Pk L" and "Pk K." To the W of this ridge are passes such as "Boomer Pass" and "June Pass." To the SW of "Necklace Ridge" you'll find "Tub Lake."

I'm still "new" to the Gore Range; in fact I've only been going there for less than a year now, but it's an area that I've grown to love and respect. Learning about these additional names or other names for parts of the Gore has been a fun discovery for me.

However, while I like some of the other aliases given to the lettered peaks, I'm still partial to the nomenclature system. The lettered peaks are more alluring for me. Maybe it's because the letters are what I had heard of first.
Part of the overall allurement, regardless if it's the "lettered names" or other names given to these wonderful peaks, is that you won't find many maps with the names on them. That is where the mystery and the adventure begins.....

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 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
L is for Livin it up
07/31/2012 20:30
Slate Creek style. Nice job finding one of the better campsites in the state.

Tarns in the Gores are usually really cool.

Thanks for the history lesson.

Memories from a long time ago
07/31/2012 23:00
It has been 30 years or so since I was up there. I agree, stick with the Alphabet Peaks.Nice report!

Thanks for posting
08/01/2012 02:29
Also thanks for the beta on Q. I agree I like the history lesson on the range. So you had no problems getting to the Bush Creek TH? I thought there were hundreds of fallen trees above the gate.

no timestamps?
08/01/2012 03:05
Looks like a nice spot! very informative TR and great pictures as always! I'm going to go ”like” it now.

08/01/2012 03:34
Thanks for the comments everyone. And Dilly-boy, I guess I deserve that one.

Astro-Colin, no trees on road. The road can be slick on the descent if it has rained though. Just an fyi.

Nice report, Darin
08/01/2012 06:04
I'm intending to get up there in the next couple of months. This is great, helpful info!

L could be for lazy as well
08/01/2012 18:19
How do you find the time to climb all these peaks while you're employed?? Oh yeah, right, you're on vacation!!

Great report!!

Great Report!
08/01/2012 22:43
Also glad to see the American flag I placed on the summit of Peak H is still there (photo #6). I was up there on 7/13/12 with some buddies, so you must have been up there sometime after that? We made sure to sing the ”new” national anthem when we put the flag there: ”America... F*ck Yeah!!” (From Team America)

Yah. What Helmet said!
08/02/2012 15:29
Sweet report, Darin. Really enjoyed reading this.
The history part I thought was fascinating.
Stop making the Gores so enticing!

08/02/2012 19:41
Looks like a ton of fun! That finaly summit pitch looks really interesting. Thanks for a great report and photos.

L-ovin the Gores
08/03/2012 02:51
Your trip reports on these mountains have been awesome--that place is almost otherworldly--need to get up there soon!!

Chicago Transplant
L is for Love
08/06/2012 15:28
I loved climbing Peak L, definitely one of my favorite 13ers in the whole state.

Very nice
01/24/2013 16:52
I've been up to Upper Slate Lake to do some flyfishing, but hadn't gotten into climbing up mountains yet, so didn't even think to look up. I'll have to go back and explore now! Thanks!

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