Peak(s):  "East Partner Pk"  -  13,057 feet
Date Posted:  10/09/2012
Modified:  10/10/2012
Date Climbed:   10/06/2012
Author:  kansas
Additional Members:   crossfitter
 East Partner South Ridge Direct   

Pitkin Creek Trailhead
Distance- ~11 miles
Elevation Gain- ~4,700

Since finishing the 14ers a couple years ago I've been aimlessly wandering the mountains without any real goals or ambitions and have found nothing particularly inspiring to drive me forward. Sure, there has been learning to ski the big peaks (thanks Otina) and some really great routes with great people along the way but something was missing...until a recent trip to Keller Mtn. Something about the Gore has sparked my interest again and for the first time in ages I lay awake in bed at night thinking about the next adventure. A special thanks to lordhelmut for helping me get started in this daunting area, without his help these trips wouldn't have been possible.

With scrambling season quickly coming to an end, my desire to hit the Gore Range one more time prompted me organize an attempt at the Partner Traverse this weekend. For the first time in a year Kris agreed to come on a "hike" sans keg, for some reason when you climb 5.17d, walking uphill doesn't hold the same appeal anymore. As we discussed the plans on Friday night Kris and I decided we wanted more sleep and a shorter day than the traverse allowed. After looking at Kane's route description on Summitpost I suggested that we do the South Ridge direct route which he describes as "could be class 5" as opposed to the standard east face route which is a chossy class 3 gully system. Kris was pleased with this option for a shorter day with some excitement.

We threw together a light rack with a couple 30m ropes and hit Pitkin Creek trail at 7:30am for the 4 mile approach to Pitkin Lake. Near 11k we decided to head straight up the south slopes instead of contouring around closer to the lake. This decision could have been better because what followed was 1200 feet of huge talus and typical class 3 grass. I was failing in my mission to convince Kris that hiking is fun...

East Partner

Our ascent route to gain the south ridge

Still working up the slope


After finally gaining the ridge and having a good cry, our objective came into view.

East Partner with south ridge

The scenery is pretty good in this area.

West Partner

Outpost Peak

Spider and Fly

After gaining the ridge you are in for some pretty fun class 3 scrambling as you work towards the summit pyramid.

south ridge scrambling (Kris)


looking down the south ridge

Just below the base of the pyramid you have a choice- Head out onto the east face where the chossy class 3 gullies are, or you can go left to stay on the south ridge, we went left. Things get interesting pretty quickly as you climb a dihedral to regain the ridge proper.

Start of the ridge direct route

The first moves after the dihedral are difficult and exposed. We briefly discussed breaking out the rope but decided against it in the end. Kris called the first awkward section 5.4...I would have rated it higher. After working through it he told me that there was some huge exposure but to be honest, I never looked down as my mind was occupied with a funky foot jam and looking for that hidden "thank god" hold.

Pulling the crux move (Kris)

Start of the difficulties

Once past the first ridge portion things settle down into the 5.easy range but the exposure is relentless. For the most part the ridge consists of 30 foot obstacles on super solid rock.

typical terrain on the summit pyramid

this route is exposed in places (Kris)

final stretch to the summit

On the summit you are greeted with typical Gore eye candy.


Q and L

We descended the standard route, picking your way through the gullies isn't too bad but it was nice to know we had a much more aesthetic climb on the ridge proper. Instead of retracing the lower ridge back down we decided to bail off the east slopes, this was a good decision.

looking back up during the descent

looking down the east slopes

a look back at East Partner from the lower east slopes


Kris and I have done a few challenging climbs over the years (Quandary's West Ridge in January, Missouri's East Ridge in May, and the Needle in May) and we've always failed to take pictures or write reports and there is always one overriding theme...we get our asses kicked. Gladly, this trip was different. I'm not sure Kris caught the Gore bug, but I did appreciate his company on this fun little day trip. Thanks.

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

Comments or Questions
10/10/2012 02:14
Great capture on image 25.

10/10/2012 02:42

nice report cyberbuddy
10/10/2012 03:19
take me with you next time. I'll hang out with the marmots in the valley.

Nicely done you guys
10/10/2012 12:18
I still have yet to enter the Gores! Nice TR Darrin!

Kris is a poser.
10/10/2012 13:57
I've never seen anyone look more natural and comfortable on tundra and talus than Kris; he clearly loves that stuff and if you can mix in trekking poles, he's even happier. All of this ”aesthetic technical climbing” stuff is a front.

Nice day out
10/10/2012 14:21
Congrats on a great peak via an exciting route! I remember hitting that east ridge direct one of the times I've been up there and it is ”airy”. If you liked that route, hit the Partner Traverse up next time - you won't be disappointed!

Missed out
10/10/2012 15:27
Oh, and...

No traverse?
10/10/2012 16:00
What gives? Looks like that direct route, though, made the day very worthy. image #25 looks pretty airy.

Good to see Crossfitter getting out of his comfort zone and good to see you, Darrin, exploring the Gores.

10/10/2012 18:47
Don't give up on the ”hikes”. There are some sick ridges/traverses out there!

Gores suck (joke), nice job.

10/10/2012 21:07
Now get a nice Belgian! Sweet pics.

Ridge runner
10/11/2012 15:03
Chicago Transplant and I did East Partner a few years back. My pictures look very similar to yours but I don't remember much, if any, class 5. So I'm guessing we were somewhere just to the right of your route. Either way, that peak is a fun scramble. Nice job guys. And it's good to see a report by the great Kansas.

Thanks Everyone
10/11/2012 15:33
I can see myself doing this route again when its time for the traverse.

Cyberbuddy- No playing with the marmots, you will come with us. Hell, we can just have Kris carry you.

Muffy-You need to get in there, maybe that should be the topic of our next email string.

jbchalk-The traverse is on the short list for sure!

Jeff-Next time I'll help you get all that sand out, please stop doing the splits in sandboxes.

Brian-We can discuss why the Traverse didn't happen over some IPA and Ribs...soon.

Natalie-I was surprised how great the weather was this weekend and the lack of snow was nice.

Stephanie-You are correct, just to the right of ridge the ridge proper there looked like a nice class 4ish slab climb, but I kinda have a thing for trying to stay on top of the ridges!

Money Shot!
10/12/2012 01:23
Pic #25 sure gets your attention! WOW!!
Glad to hear your back in it

sweet climb
10/18/2012 03:38
The Partners just moved up on my list...thanks for posting!

04/02/2015 19:45
We were a few drainages away (on Powell) the same day and in our case Class 5 was entirely optional. Weather ended up being pretty sweet, huh? Congrats to both of you on a nice climb.

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