Peak(s):  Mt. Yale  -  14,200 feet
Date Posted:  12/02/2015
Modified:  10/24/2016
Date Climbed:   07/12/2015
Author:  TakeMeToYourSummit
 Mount Yale - Silver Creek Loop   

Yale was my thirteenth 14er years ago. It marked my "Fall Closer" shortly before Indy Pass was closed for the season
- effectively blocking easy driving options for peaks outside the Elk Mountains. That day we had noticed a nice
ridge running northeast away from the summit ridge. After summiting Harvard & Columbia in the summer of 2014
- more ideas formed regarding this ridge as a viable option to ascend Yale.

My friend Will & I gave it a go this last summer. We started at the Silver Creek Trailhead near sunrise. Anyone
who has hiked Harvard or Columbia via their standard routes has passed this TH on the way to the North
Cottonwood Creek Trailhead. We hiked the first mile and a half of the trail, angling west-southwest into the basin.
At this point you will enter a very defined "U" in the trail. Somewhere between 1/8 & 1/4 of a mile past the "U" -
we left the trail. We hiked northwest up the hill more or less across from a steep section above the creek below.
We managed to link up game trails for most of this section of the route.
Looking down at the creek, near where we left the trail.

Enjoying a good cruise through the woods.

This view of Yale was inspiring to say the least!

The views of Harvard and Columbia were quite impressive from this ridge.

We continued along or just south of the ridge for the bulk of our remaining hike. We topped out on some of the
points and others we dodged to reduce our elevation gain. The weather was holding for the time being - we'd
hate to have to bail into the basin if anything changed.
A preview of our intended descent - the East Ridge.

Some unique rocks along the ridge.

Typical scrambling terrain up one of the ridge points.

We downclimbed into a snow patch on the backside of this bump.

We could see other hikers along both the East Ridge & upper Southwest Slopes routes as we worked our way up.
A little above 13k - every vertical foot became a personal high for Will - this was his 1st 14er after all!
Looking back on much of the ridge.

Almost to the final ridge section from the standard route. We aimed just right of the large rock in the center of this pictu

My favorite part of the Yale standard: the fun ridge options!

Summit pizza from Taster's in Snowmass. Yummy!

On the summit were at least a dozen people (this was a Sunday after all). We spoke with a few groups; inquiring
about the conditions on the East Ridge. After a couple strikeouts we found the group whom we'd seen on our
way up. They (& their dogs) were headed back the same route in a few moments and were happy to have us join
them. Some of them were from the Summit County area - Lauren, Kayla, Jeff, & Stu. Forgive me if I slightly
misspelled (or totally blew) getting your names right!
Summit views and parts of our ascent route.

Starting down the East Ridge.

A little section of scrambling mixed with short snow patches.

Playing with snow in the summer.

Plenty of optional scrambling kept this section fun. We were all very careful as we descended - a few spots had
rocks that were loose. I chose to climb both 13,420' points - both definitely have good class 3 options.
Our group headed for the 13,420' bumps.

Descending the western bump.

On the eastern bump - looking back at the western.

We had originally toyed with the idea of adding Mascot Peak to our day. Ultimately we saw no easy way to hike it & still

Will and the "white rock formation" from the East Ridge RD.

Some of the last scrambling we found for the day.

We said our goodbyes at the junction of the Colorado Trail. The other group headed south as we returned north;
toward the Silver Creek TH. This is a rather nice section of the trail and we made good time to the creek. We
filtered some water, passed a few other hikers (one of whom was weeks into the entire CT route), and made our
way to the TH. We camped a few miles down the road, enjoyed breakfast Monday in BV, and drove back to
Snowmass Village as two happy hikers. A big thanks to Will for joining me on this loop & providing some of the
wonderful pictures in this report!
Lets filter some of that snowmelt we were playing in earlier!

*Not an actual GPS file... this approximation was created after the hike. The "U" is very easy to locate along the

Notes on this route:
Expect 5500'+ vertical & 10+ miles to hike this route.
This route could be kept at difficult class 2 - with plenty of options for class 3 or harder available.
Bailing into the Silver Creek basin (due to weather, etc...) was very doable for most of this hike.
If you miss the turn past the "U" on the ascent you may find yourself in dense forest and/or cliffed out.
Route finding during the ascent above treeline is fairly obvious.
Route finding on the descent (having not ascended that route) will be needed (study the East Ridge RD).
If you choose to try this route - start early, stay safe, and have fun (we sure did!)!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
12/03/2015 17:42
Way to get the summit using a unique and cool approach Brad. Looking forward to skiing some stuff next spring with you and your crew.
Enjoy the holidays.

Great Adventure
12/03/2015 20:54
Looking at Google Earth, it appears there are a lot of up and downs. Nevertheless, it looks like a day full of ridge fun.

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