Peak(s):  Peak 10  -  13,633 feet
Peak 9  -  13,195 feet
Date Posted:  09/16/2014
Modified:  09/18/2014
Date Climbed:   09/14/2014
Author:  Steve Climber
Additional Members:   AeroDan
 I thought it was only ten miles?!!?   

Route: Tenmile Traverse (Peaks 1-10)
Team: AeroDan (Chirp); Steve Climber
Distance: (per GPS) 18 miles from car to bus stop
Gain: (per GPS) ~9000'
Time: 11:55 car to bus stop

A few days prior, Chirp posted an inquiry on FB to see if anyone wanted to join him near Breckenridge for an attempt at traversing Peaks 1-10 of the Tenmile Range. This trip had been on my radar since reading 'Big Day' Jed's report about them (and a few more) in winter 2012. At about 7pm the night before, I finally committed to it, and told him I was in so we could make plans. After discussing weather and route details, we decided to meet at Mt. Royal TH in the morning.

The familiar "What the hell do we do this for?!" ran through my head as the alarm blared its call at 2:15am. I snoozed it once and enjoyed one last bit of dreamland before rising with a grumble to get coffee brewing and start packing. I left Boulder at 3:15 and arrived at the TH to a freshly-awake Chirp at 4:40am. As the plan was to ride the bus back to town from Breck, we made the decision to stash his Jeep on the South end of Frisco to avoid having to walk any more than we had already signed up for. Once the shuttle rig was parked, we returned to the TH, finished prepping, and had trailrunners on the ground at 5:50am.

Ascending the well-groomed Mt. Royal trail was a treat by headlamp and we were pleased to have some pretty spectacular sunrise views over Grays/Torreys and Evans/Bierstadt, as well as the Dillon Rez. The trail was quite steep in sections and we had to remind ourselves to dial back the pace to conserve what we could for later in they day, when we would surely need it. We chatted away as the 3800' feet of initial gain ticked by, and soon found ourselves admiring stunning views from atop Pk 1's blocky summit.

Sunrise and "GnR" (no, that's not a typo)
Chirp at treeline heading toward Pk 1

Stunning morning
The fun begins...

Watching over the Dillon Rez
Pk 1 to Tenmile (Pk 2) with Pk 10 WAAAY off in the distance

Tenmile to Pk 2.5, Pk 3, and Pk 4 (the meat of the route)
Certified Chirp Approved scrambling

Was hard not to stop at every point for the views
Ever present exposure to the West

Starting down from Pk 2.5 toward The Dragon

Peaks 1-4 supplied some of the most fluid and sustained scrambling I've done in a long time; truly a treat! We both felt like monkeys swinging from one vine to the next as the rocky ridgeline passed below our hands and feet. Along the way, there were several opportunities to spice things up to the level of 'climbing'; one of these being a large tower (80-90') with a 60-70' crack running up it's side that was far too inviting to pass up. The bulgy, overhung start was certainly the crux and I stood, stumped, while freezing rock caused numb fingers and a decreased faith in what I was pulling on. After an aborted attempt to gain the left of the bulge, I opted for an awkward stem to attack the off-width crack head on. With one huge pull and large step into the depth of the crack, I found a knee bar and a perfect spot to warm my fingers and recollect myself before continuing up. After about 15' the angle eased back to 'slightly less than vertical' and the climbing became quite fun. Topping out was almost as nice a reward as thawing my hands on the sun kissed rocks of the downclimb to the SE.

I couldn't make the left go
So went right

Pulling through the end of the vertical climbing
So much fun

Chirp tailed around the West side base of the tower and met me for the next scrambling section. I had gotten my fill of spicy climbing for a few minutes, so I opted to traverse along the base of a very cool looking rock spine as he took it on directly. He exclaimed several times that it was 'high consequence' but when he came down the smile on his face led me to believe it was well worth it.

Chirp's turn for some fun
Chirp loving the ridge life

'High Consequence'

We continued on to the base of 'The Dragon' and inspected it up close. Knowing we had already burned precious time with our two unnecessary detours, we opted to bypass to the West and followed well worn ledges around it; re-gaining the easier ridge and reaching Pk 3's summit shortly after. The ridge to Pk 4 looked imposing, but knowing the we had just passed the toughest section boosted our confidence and we charged down into the saddle. Staying on the ridge proper, again, provided us ample scrambling and intense exposure in several spots. Happily moving from rock to rock, we reached the broad summit of Pk 4 before we knew it and stopped for a bite to eat. Looking South, the view of our remaining route became apparent and a lump developed in my throat. "This is going to be a LONG day" I started to choke until I was distracted when a low flying small plane buzzed by just to the West. We stared and watched him fly South then turn a sharp 180 and return, flying impossibly close to the ridge. As he went passed us, he was close enough to make out a smile on his face. We threw our arms up and he waved back from the cockpit, then waggled his wings, flipped another 180 and disappeared for good, headed South once again.

Sunlight playing on the ridge to Pk 4
A few easily passable knife edges along the way

Nothing but smiles all day
On the false summit of Pk 4, saying farewell to the 'fun' part of the day

Chirp finishing Pk 4 in style (running from the false summit)
Looking back at Pk 6

The potatoes of the route

The weather seemed to be holding off quite nicely with only small clouds developing and a steady breeze that worked to tame the heat of the direct sun. We took our time finishing our snacks before setting our legs to Slog Mode, as we suspected the rest of the route would yield ZERO excitement. Our suspicions were confirmed, but the mellow tundra-ridge never failed to provide world-class views of some of Colorado's most stunning landscape. We trudged along from summit to saddle, stopping several times to take water and calories, as well as some requisite goofy pictures of ski terrain signs with no snow around. The North slope of Pk 8 was brutally steep and before long, we swapped our straight-line approach for a switchback pattern (although I hugged a snow fence at one point and treated it like class 3 terrain, pulling myself straight up 150' or so )

Bro, do you even double black?
Dan sets his sights on Pks 9 and 10

Looking back at Pk 8

Pk 9 gave us more of the same pain, though less steep, as we gained a broad shoulder to follow to the summit. On our way up this shoulder, we saw our first people of the day, as a team of 3 ultra runners (we would find out later) quickly descended Pk 8 toward us. At the top of Pk 9, we took some more calories and watched as the team arrived on the false summit and sat down, presumably doing the same as us. We took off down into our final saddle of the day to the base of a hugely imposing talus slope up Pk 10. My legs were pretty thrashed at this point and 800' of clumsy talus tripping ensued. The runners were quickly behind us and followed our line for the most part, although one of them (Alex) split off further to the West and put away the final 600' faster than I've ever seen anyone manage to gain anything at this angle.

One. More. Push.
Not sure I've ever loved seeing the Stars n' Stripes more

So happy to be on our final summit (almost entire traverse visible behind)



Cresting the final false summit bump and seeing Old Glory swaying in the breeze was easily the best feeling I had all day (right up until the post-game burger and beer). We chatted with Alex for a few minutes until the other two caught up. We happily exchanged summit photo duties until the cold wind started slinging snowflakes at us sideways. Dropping directly to the East put us on well graded 4wd road, where we were able to pick up the descent pace to a brisk run. We were all mindlessly trotting along until two switchbacks down the road, when another plane buzzed over the top of us...except this time it was an F-16 fighter moving a bit faster who was apparently not as eager to wag the wings at us. Oh well.

About 10 seconds after the F-16 buzz
Ultrarunners...I kept up for about a mile

You kiddin' me?!?!

Though we got dropped by the other team fairly early on, the run down to the Pk 9 restaurant went smoothly. From there, we decided to pick up the Mercury Superchair lift line and follow the towers straight down. At the base of the Mercury, we caught another section of road for a bit, before cutting straight downhill and onto Sundowner (can't be a day on a ski hill without at least one green run) for the remainder of the walk into the village. We arrived at the Beaver Run condos with an official time of 11h 55m from 'civilization to civilization'.

One last shot of Pk 8
Mercury Superchair...was hoping to find some goggles or some forgotten schwag. No luck

From there, we caught the Free Ride bus to Frisco, where we had a great chance to chat with some folks who had recently done the same route as us. Based on the glaring faces, it didn't seem the rest of the passengers were as amused with us and our levels of stoke as we were although none of us could have cared less in that moment.

Arriving at Chirp's Jeep, we quickly picked my car up and bee-lined straight for Dillon Dam Brewery for burgers, beers, and flipping through pics of the day while re-living the entire route peak by peak.

Beers and thing all day

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 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Comments or Questions
You are my Heros...
09/17/2014 00:31
Maybe one day I'll be like you. One day...

Nice report! Thanks for the write up.

Cool route
09/17/2014 02:01
I have long wanted to do this... but other things keep consuming my time. Someday... Nice job and great pics!

Michael J
Stopping to have fun...
09/17/2014 02:41
”Squirrel!....” - You guys are so easily distracted! I would have done the same thing, although I might have skipped all the other stuff! Great write up! Hope to see you both on Sunday.

Nice traverse!
09/17/2014 03:07
Well done, Sam! Brings back good memories of when Kristine and I did this one many years ago. Congrats, dude!

Definitely one of...
09/17/2014 03:27
my favorite outings yet. Bummer we connected toward the end of the scrambling season cuz there's a bunch of Gore and Needle/Grenadier action to be had! I also have this book of scrambles that oughta make a good list. Guess this is all something to look forward to next season!

09/17/2014 15:30
Tasty trip report...

Very nice
09/17/2014 17:21
Loved the crack climb pics, that is intense! Well done guys!

what jmanner said...
09/17/2014 20:26
and this is sick. Nice work boys!

Steve Climber
09/17/2014 21:08
to all for the kind words. This was definitely one of the better trips I've had in CO. It had everything I could have asked scrambling/climbing, hair raising exposure, lots of miles at altitude, planes buzzing, great views and weather, and awesome company! Wish they could all be like this : 8)

09/18/2014 02:15
Greeeeat hike and TR!!

Nice Traverse!
09/19/2014 01:20
Maybe one day I'll get to this one, but skiing the peaks is sooo much more fun!

F yeah
09/19/2014 21:22
Almost did this last year, and probably won't fit it in this year. Great TR, congrats on a solid day. Gotta love pre-snow September weather!!

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