Peak(s):  Peak 10  -  13,633 feet
Peak 9  -  13,195 feet
Pk 8 - 12987
Pk 7 - 12655
Pk 6 - 12573
Pk 5 - 12855
PK 4 - 12866
Pk 3 - 12676
Pk 2 (Tenmile Peak) - 12933
Pk 1 - 12805
Date Posted:  07/09/2018
Date Climbed:   07/01/2018
Author:  AlexeyD
Additional Members:   cmonster
 Tenmile (aka 20-mile) traverse   

Rather than write a long TR, I thought I’d just summarize a few notes while they’re still fresh in my memory.

Timing and splits (approximate)

Start: 5:45

Peak 1: 8:30

Peak 4: 12:30

Peak 10: 5:35

Breckenridge: 8:00


Parked at the trailhead right next to Exit 202 off I-70 in Frisco, next to the bike path. Originally planned to take the free Summit County shuttle, but ended up taking an Uber for $18, thereby getting home earlier and avoiding the ~1 mile walk in the dark to the TH on tired legs.

Route notes

TH to Peak 1

Total time: 14h 15 min

Skipped Mt. Royal and took a left at the junction (there is a sign toward Mt. Victoria and Peak 1). Peak 1 is a grunt. Several false summits, mostly on steep Class 2 with occasional faint trail segments. The final section to the summit looks intimidating, but in reality goes at easy Class 3 on the west side.

Peak 1
Peak 1 to Peak 2

Starts with easy ridge walking off Peak 1. Some obstacles encountered starting at the low point; generally we stayed either on the ridge or just below it on the east side. Despite some Class 3 sections, we were able to maintain a reasonable pace here.

Peak 2
Scrambling on the east side of Peak 2

Peak 2 to Peak 3

As most TRs will say, this is the hardest part of the traverse. Nothing really scary or difficult, but after the initial short walking section, the scrambling is fairly sustained until past the Dragon, which is a pretty good distance with a lot of ups and downs. For the first gendarme, we first briefly went on the east side and then crossed around to the west, where there is a fairly substantial (maybe 150’?) downclimb into a notch. This is probably the crux as far as mandatory climbing goes - the final downclimb into the notch perhaps approaches Class 4. From the notch you go west again - down a loose gully for a bit and then back up to the ridge. It’s all pretty obvious for the most part. The “Dragon” is approached from the east side, then we crossed to the west to go around it. Supposedly there’s a way to go on top of it at Class 4, but we did not find it, and the west side bypass seemed obvious and logical. Once around the Dragon, Peak 3 isn’t far away.

First gendarme descending from Peak 3
The Dragon

Peak 3 to Peak 4

Definitely the most fun section of the traverse. From the low point, we mostly stayed right on the ridge, with lots of great Class 3 scrambling on mostly good rock. Only brief excursions on to the west side to avoid Class 5 terrain. Probably the most exposed moves of the route, including a few true knife edges, and some great photo ops.

Peak 4, with the connecting ridge visible
Fun knife edges on P3-P4 ridge

More gratuitous scrambling


More knife edges

Peak 4 to Peak 5

Flat to gently rolling tundra. Peak 5 is barely a high point. By far the easiest segment of the traverse, but a nice reprieve after the lengthy scrambling between 1 and 4.

Start of the tundra

eak 5 to Peak 6

Part of the ridge here is on the Colorado Trail, so we saw more people than on any other part of the traverse - including some mountain bikers. Starting on Peak 6, you get into the Breck ski area boundary.

Peak 6 to Peak 7

The trail drops off toward Copper soon after 6, so solitude returns, despite all the ski resort structures. From the low point, the climb up to 7 is a grunt up steep grass slopes. The miles were really starting to add up here.

Peak 7. All sorts of ski resort structures visible

Peak 7 to Peak 9

8 is a mercifully short jaunt from 7, but 9 was a different story. After a long grassy climb to a false summit, the ridge suddenly narrows and briefly reverts to its old scrambly self - only to revert back to tundra right after the summit of 9.


A little more scrambling on Peak 9

Peak 9 to Peak 10

Having taken one look at the ugly north slopes of 10, we wanted nothing to do with it. So onward to the jeep road it was. The descent off 9 is a bit steep - poles were helpful for keeping balance on the grass and scree. After dropping into the basin, we skirted right around the 12,600’ contour, briefly crossing the first of only 2 sections of snow the whole day, and then intersected the road near the first switchback. Following the road was definitely a respite - switchbacks do help, it turns out, especially when your legs are done for the day. On the summit ridge of 10, we encountered the second bit of snow - this one unavoidable - right on the summit ridge. It looked a bit intimidating from a distance, but upon getting there it turned out to be very low-angle and with huge steps kicked in among the giant suncups. Still, on the way down we had to take care not to eat it in our now semi-delirious state. In any case, we had made all 10 peaks of the traverse - now it was just 4K’ of descent between us and beer.


The finale - Peak 10 to Breckenridge Brewing Company

What can I quote Summitpost, if you don’t have a shuttle waiting for you “have fun with that”. Not much to add. We did cut a couple of switchbacks near the end by taking the ski trails; not sure how much time it really saved, but at least it felt good. On the plus side, the town of Breckenridge is delightfully small; we more or less stumbled into the brewery before we realized where we were - a perfectly fitting end to a most delightful sufferfest.

Final thoughts

This is a good “intro” level Colorado endurance challenge. The logistics are easy, there are many bailout points, and the going gets much easier just as you’re starting to get tired. We did not run any of it, and were still able to complete the whole thing in daylight hours. That said, lots of sections, particularly after Peak 4, are perfectly runnable if that’s how you want to do it. Routefinding skills and being comfortable on 3rd/4th class terrain with some exposure definitely helps, and keeps you moving through the trickier sections. Obviously opinions will vary, but we found enough loose rock on the Class 3 sections for a helmet to be warranted. Poles were helpful on the steep grass and scree bits, especially later in the day on tired legs. Don’t expect any running water until the creek that drains from the 4th of July Bowl snowfields below Peak 10; there are numerous snowfields along the ridge, but you’re generally on the wrong side of them to take advantage of any runoff. The road walk into Breck does suck, but at the same time it kind of feels like it’s part of the challenge. I would probably do it the same way if I did it again. The drive home back to the Front Range was awful...if you have the chance to spend the night, I would highly recommend it. That’s about it...have fun and happy suffering!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
07/10/2018 16:02
We want to do this at some point as well, and this is a perfect report. Thanks for taking the time!

peak 9 and 10
07/10/2018 20:52
Having downclimbed some fairly loose blocky talus and scree between these peaks, the jeep road is the much better choice.

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