Peak(s):  Longs Peak  -  14,259 feet
Mt. Meeker  -  13,911 feet
Pagoda Mountain  -  13,497 feet
Chiefs Head Peak  -  13,579 feet
Mt. Alice  -  13,310 feet
Isolation Peak  -  13,118 feet
Ogalalla Peak  -  13,138 feet
Date Posted:  07/30/2016
Modified:  08/15/2016
Date Climbed:   07/29/2016
Author:  pbakwin
 Wild Basin Traverse - complete!   

Wild Basin Traverse - Complete!
July 29, 2016

The Wild Basin Traverse has been a major goal of mine for several years. The idea is to traverse the ridgeline containing the Basin, summiting every named and significant peak along the way. Wild Basin is a big, wild, rugged place, and the Traverse is a BIG undertaking. It comes out to around 29 miles with 14,000' of elevation gain, summiting 13 peaks!

I attempted this Traverse in August 2013, but failed to fully complete it. My trip report from that day explains further the details of this project & has many photos. The short story on that trip is that I started at the Copeland Lake TH, summited Lookout, Meeker, Longs, Pagoda, Chiefs Head, Alice, Tamina, The Cleaver, Isolation, Ouzel, Ogalalla and Elk Tooth. Only St. Vrain Mtn and Meadow Mtn remained, but at that point due to rain, fatigue and inadequate route knowledge getting off Elk Tooth, I bailed out down the Pear Lake Trail, reaching my car after 15 hours out. Very charitably, Bill Briggs, one of the legends of big Boulder County mountaineering projects, gave me "full credit", but it never sat well with me that I didn't tag the last two relatively low summits.

In the last 2 years things just never came together to give it another go. You really need great weather for this, and whenever I thought of trying again it seemed the forecast wasn't supportive. In truth it takes a combination of a great forecast and just simply feeling up to the challenge on the same day. At my age (54) those days of feeling up to it are getting fewer and farther between. But, this year has had generally fantastic weather for this sort of thing - if people aren't getting their life Colorado mountaineering goals done this summer something is wrong!

I'm not going to do a detailed report - my report from last time pretty much covers it. But a few notes:
-I went a month earlier this time, and started an hour earlier. More daylight!
-I decided to add SE Longs (The Beaver), and traversed from there to Longs via Gorrells Traverse and the Stepladder. This cost me maybe 20 minutes, but seemed more fun than Clark's Arrow and the Homestretch. SE Longs is not officially named & not a significant summit, so I don't think it's a "requirement".
-In 2013 I didn't know a direct way to descend off Elk Tooth while staying on the ridge. I ended up descending into the Hutcheson Lakes drainage and stumbling around in the cliffy, brushy drainage looking for a way down. Then the thought of climbing back up onto the ridge for the traverse to St Vrain was just too much, so I just called it and ran out the Pear Lake Trail. Last year Buzz & I scouted a nice, 4th class route through the hard part of Elk Tooth's east ridge. This time I walked right by our easy, safe downclimb (which was loaded into my GPS), and ended up doing a hard, sketchy route instead. Doh!
-St Vrain and Meadow turn out to be a HUGE add. The hike over to St Vrain just seemed to take forever.
-From Meadow I just bushwhacked straight north down to the Finch Lake Trail. This worked fine, but was long and scrappy. It might be better to just drop east off Meadow to the St Vrain TH, then jog back on the highway or use a bike shuttle (in case anyone wants to try this!?!? You know you wanna, Abe!)
-My splits (see below) were shockingly close to those from 2013. I was 2 minutes slower to Elk Tooth this time - 11:32 vs. 11:30 in 2013! In my 50s the year-by-year deterioration of fitness is noticeable, but it seems there is a somewhat compensating improvement in efficiency?


My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

Comments or Questions
07/30/2016 16:13
That's one incredible loop!! I really liked your trip report from your last attempt, it helped me in a smaller traverse when I had to reach Isolation from the north. Way to go back with a vengeance and destroy it!

08/01/2016 17:01
Can I like this 456 times. You continue to amaze me, def. one of my idols!

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.