Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,037 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,004 feet
Buckskin Benchmark  -  13,370 feet
"Sundog"  -  13,432 feet
Pacific Peak  -  13,950 feet
Date Posted:  08/20/2012
Date Climbed:   08/18/2012
Author:  mlayman09
 Peak bagging road trip   

I flew out to Denver last Monday to visit the University of Denver's grad program in GIS. After that I got a rental car and drove around Colorado for a week to see some places I hadn't seen before and, of course, climb some mountains!

My first peak was Pacific Peak (13950) just south of Breckenridge. I had originally planned to do Massive but the weather didn't look too good. The climb up Pacific is pretty straightforward. There is a good trail from the parking lot off of spruce creek road up to the Mohawk lakes. 2wd vehicles can easily make it to the parking lot, I was driving a Chevy Aveo.

Once you get into the basin you can see Pacific's distinct summit off in the distance to the west. to ascend the ridge leading to the summit, you must ascend a steep and very loose gully. Since I'm from VA and only been at altitude for 3 days, this really kicked my butt...


Once you reach the plateau, its an easy class 2 scramble up to the summit. The views were rather lack-luster because of the haze, I could see Democrat peak but that was about as far as I could see.


I made it up in about 3 hours and my GPS said it was 5 miles one way. Since the views weren't that great and I wasn't feeling to fresh I decided not to traverse to Atlantic.

Peak #2: Buckskin BM

I had never been to Aspen or the Elk range, so I decided to do Buckskin BM in the Maroon Bells Snowmass Wilderness. I took the bus up at 9am (the earliest they run, if you want an earlier start, you can drive up for $10) and started hiking at 9:30 after taking the classic Maroon Bells photo. To reach Buckskin BM, take the well marked trail up to Crater Lake then head north on a good trail to Buckskin Pass.


I hiked this mid-week and there were many people on the trail. This area affords great views of Pyramid's massif and North Maroon Peak. The climb up to Buckskin Pass isn't difficult thanks to switchbacks. I reached the pass in 2 hours. The weather looked good so I went ahead and went up to Buckskin BM. Leave the trail and contour around a small hill, then descend a small rocky slope then ascend a very steep grassy slope. Towards the top it is class 2+. Buckskin BM is just under a mile from the top of Buckskin Pass. The views of Snowmass are better from the top than they are from the Pass. Descended fairly quickly because of an impending storm.


Peaks 3-5: Redcloud, Sunshine, Sundog

I was new to the San Juans as well and decided to hike Redcloud and Sunshine, and possibly Sundog if the weather held. A note on the road up to the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead: I did it in a Chevy Aveo with good clearance, however there are some very sketchy parts. 4wd drive is unnecessary up the trailhead but good clearance is a must. I camped out and got on the trail at 6:30 the next morning.

Despite feeling awful (breakfast hadn't settled) the ascent up Redcloud was fairly easy. There is a good trail the whole way, with a small class 2 section near the summit. Reached the top in 2 hours, snapped a summit pic then headed on over to Sunshine. Took my sweet time and took in the incredible views of the San Juans; Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn are very easy to spot. Reached Sunshine and chatted with a fella named John for awhile then decided to go for Sundog.


The northwest slope of Sunshine has a faint trail down it, which I followed. You'll reach a saddle and the ridge climb up to Sundog is in plain view. It is fun class 2+ with an occasional class 3 move. The rock on Sundog is particularly red. Descending Sundog isn't too much fun, it is very loose talus and scree the whole way down, and once you get into the trees it isn't too much fun either. There is a faint trail down, but I rarely stayed on its path. Reached the Silver Creek trail and kicked it on home and got back to camp at 12:30.


Sundog's ridge

Despite all the haze, this trip was fantastic.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Comments or Questions
Rich H
sundawg tree
08/21/2012 20:52
There used to be a tree(s) between Sundawg and Sunshine at approx 13,300'. So far it is the highest tree I have seen in the US... was curious if it was still there?


not sure...
08/21/2012 21:01
I don't remember any trees between Sundog and Sunshine, although just north of Sundog and at ~12000 ft. there were a few evergreens.

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