Peak(s):  Crystal Peak A  -  13,852 feet
Father Dyer Peak  -  13,615 feet
Peak 10  -  13,633 feet
Date Posted:  06/26/2016
Date Climbed:   06/25/2016
Author:  roemmic1
 Father Dyer/Crystal Peak/Peak 10 Loop   

After spending the last few weekends in the Sawatch Range I decided to try this 13er loop in the Tenmiles. I started off on the Wheeler Trail just off the Aqueduct Road at 6:15.

Heading up the Wheeler Trail

About a half mile in I encountered a crossing at the creek. However, there didn't appear to be any sort of good rocks or branches in place to cross dryly so I sucked it up and waded across barefoot. Happy to have brought an extra pair of pants, which I used to dry and warm my feet, I then headed up the remaining quarter mile of the trail to meet up with the 4WD road.

The creek crossing on the Wheeler Trail

Wheeler Trail junction with the 4WD road

Shortly after hiking along the road the views finally started to open up and the beautiful 13ers and Crystal Lake basin appeared before me.

First glimpse of Father Dyer, Crystal Peak and Peak 10

After hiking probably another half mile or so I ran into a huge "puddle" on the road due to extensive overflow from the nearby stream. Rather than wade through this like the creek on the Wheeler Trail, there was a side trail off to the right of the main road I followed which led to a makeshift branch crossing. Utilizing my best gymnastics skills, I tightroped it across the branches and reconnected with the main road shortly thereafter.

The water covering the road

Side trail bypass

The makeshift creek crossing I used to bypass all the water on the road

From here I continued up the road and scoped out the route I would follow along Father Dyer's East Ridge.

First look at the route up Father Dyer's east ridge

I followed the road up until the point where it becomes obvious it's necessary to get off the trail and head to the base of the east ridge. It's important to note here that the road does continue up and turns into a trail to Mt. Helen (which is more difficult and exposed than Father Dyer) so if your goal is Father Dyer make sure to leave the road at the point when you have a straight shot up a mini gully. After leaving the trail, the gully was filled with snow and, despite being only 7 am at this point, it was already getting soft and postholey. To avoid this I rock hopped on the boulder field to the left of the gully and just crossed a small section of the snow once I was at the base of the east ridge.

The snowfield I bypassed by rock hopping the boulders and talus on the right side of the photo

Rather than hike straight up the base of the east ridge, I veered a little to the left where there's a hill that leads a bit more gradually up to the start of the route. Once one the ridge it becomes pretty obvious the route to follow. It's mainly class 2 climbing and I encountered really only two sections that were class 3 from my perspective. The first one was a large crux of rock followed by a flatter section. At this point there is a smaller ledge below and to the right of the crux that you can drop down on and then simply scramble up behind the crux to the flat section. This is exactly what I did and thought it made for an easier climb than trying to navigate that crux.

Looking back over the first class 3 section

The second section was a group of rocks angled almost like a knife edge (definitely wasn't a knife edge but that sort of idea) that just took some careful traversing to cross. I found the rock throughout this section and the majority of the climb up the ridge to be pretty solid although it's definitely important to test it before trying.

The second class 3 section

Upon passing these two sections it was pretty much a fairly straightforward and easy climb to the false summit and actual summit (which is about a tenth of a mile from the false summit). After summiting Father Dyer around 8:30 and spending no more than a minute or two to hydrate, I immediately started down on my way over to Crystal Peak. The route to Crystal is also obvious and just requires following the ridge over.

The route over to Crystal Peak

Quandary with Democrat in the far background

Having not encountered anyone on the hike so far, and not expecting to really, I was surprised when I met two guys about halfway over to Crystal. They were heading in the opposite direction back toward Father Dyer and said they were planning to try Mt. Helen. After wishing them good luck, I continued on my way across the ridge and up to the summit of Crystal. There was a minor snowfield near the top but I easily passed it on the left side. I had made really good time and it was only 9 am at this point with not a cloud in the sky. Taking 10 minutes to rest and eat a bit, I then headed down Crystal and over to Peak 10. Again, this route was pretty obvious and just required following the ridgeline and did not exceed Class 2.

Looking over to Peak 10 from Crystal

At Peak 10 I encountered a large group of skiers coming up the east ridge from the Breckenridge ski area. Given that it was still before 10 am and I was still feeling good, I considered descending Peak 10 to head over to Peak 9. About a quarter of the way down the mountain I decided this was not a good idea as the descent was very steep and filled with loose scree so I turned around and headed back up. By this point all the skiers were at the summit and I spent some time chatting with them and eating a bit more. On the descent I simply backtracked to the saddle between Crystal and Peak 10 and descended via the Crystal Peak route. I did encounter a few snowfields along the way but they were both easy to traverse by following previous bootprints.

Looking down into Breckenridge from Peak 10

The first snowfield I encountered descending the Crystal Peak route

Second snowfield

The loop was super enjoyable and a nice route to find a bit of desolation despite being so close to the Front Range. The ridge on Father Dyer was definitely the best part of the loop and I'm eager to get back sometime in the future to tackle Mt. Helen.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Double Oh Seven
Cool report
06/26/2016 13:15
That loop is a fun one! Thanks for writing up. Pic #10 is a great angle on the ridge

Just missed you!
06/26/2016 14:04
I sure wish we had found those logs in the willows across Crystal Creek yesterday! We did make a successful jump across the creek a little below the Wheeler Trail crossing. We talked briefly with the two guys you did as we were starting the traverse from Helen. They had made it past the difficulties along the ridge including an aggressive goat that charged them. I highly recommend the Helen-FD ridge! See my TR for details.

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