Peak(s):  Tijeras Peak  -  13,604 feet
Music Mountain  -  13,380 feet
Date Posted:  07/18/2018
Date Climbed:   06/30/2018
Author:  koeffling
 Tijeras and Music via the south ridge   

I really love any excuse to get to the Sangres. It's far for us Northern Coloradoans so I don't get down there as often as I'd like. Lucky for me, I have befriended a couple folks who live in Westcliffe who kindly send me invitations to join them on occasion. When an invitation for Tijeras was put out, I suggested the traverse to Music Mountain as a fun day. The others had the same idea.

There ended up being 8 of us total, and one dog. Wading through Denver traffic on a Friday is always an adventure, and it was after 11:00pm by the time the tent was set up at the 2WD TH heading towards Music Pass, south of the ever familiar South Colony Lakes trailhead. We had a stellar forecast and got a leisurely start around 6:30-7:00 from the upper trailhead, which requires 4WD.

Just beyond Music Pass. Tijeras, Music, and Milwaukee seen from here
In Colorado Scrambles, Dave Cooper suggests heading to Upper Sand Creek Lake. We chose a more direct approach to Lower Sand Creek Lake. The trail is a super highway to the beautiful Music Pass and great signage to Lower Sand Creek Lake which is a popular fishing destination and a lovely place to camp for the evening if you wanted to prolong your visit. You climb shortly for about a 1.25 miles until you reach Music Pass where our objective comes into view. Panos of Tijeras, Music, and Milwaukee fill the skyline. There is a map and info board at Music Pass and was a great place to visit with passersby to see what people were doing for the day. You then drop from Music Pass and make your way to Lower Sand Creek Lake. Tijeras looms large over the lake and looks pretty impressive from this vantage point

Most of the group at Lower Sand Creek Lake with Tijeras behind. We'll meet one more on the north side of the lake in a few moments
We travel north around the lake a take a faint climbers trail up the steep grassy slopes below Tijeras to find our ramp to the uper portion. There are two ramps. We chose to ascend the southern-most, or left ramp. This is the first you'll encounter but both ramps are hard to see until you're right under them, as they face away from you, or towards the northeast. The initial scramble was the steepest of the ramp and held some avoidable snow at the bottom. The grade eased as we traveled further up. Even the dog made it with a brief spot; she's a darn good scrambler.

Just head straight up through this grassy slope
Some gorgeous wildflowers as we near the left ramp
At least one of us was happy to see snow

The steepest part of the left ramp was here at the bottom, then eased some.
A bit higher up in the ramp

Once above the ramp, we ascended the grassy slopes to the talus and boulder field of Tijeras' slope. We gained the ridge and followed it to the summit, mostly a class 2 fun ridge hop. Dave Cooper has a fairly intense looking photo in his book while scrambling to the summit ridge. We looked as best we could but didn't find anything nearly this fun, or steep. Oh well, we'll have to settle for a gorgeous summit on some fun Sangre scrambly rock. A party of 3 joined us on the summit a while later, a few guys ditching their wives back at camp to get in a summit.

The remaining route. We head right to gain the ridge, then follow to the summit
Getting to the bouldery section
Looking north over to Music. That ridge looks fun!!
A little hop to the summit
We took our time on the summit, watching the Spring fire grow as the minutes passed. Enjoying views of the Crestones in the northern distance and the Blanca group to the west. From Tijeras the full route up Music's South Ridge to the summit can be seen. From Tijeras it looks quite narrow. I suppose because it IS quite narrow.

The crew
Enjoying the views towards the valley
The fairly new Spring fire, Blanca group in the distance right
Crestones and Humboldt in the distance, Music ridge straight ahead
We descend as a group to the Tijeras Music saddle. It was decided the pup could not handle the ridge, so we split to an A group and B group. 5 of us head over to Music via the South Ridge, the others head down to find the northern, or right ramp as an easier descent. From there 2 of those stayed, and one gained the standard route up Music's class 3 east ridge to the summit, our descent route. There really is no exit from the saddle other than the 2 described ramps: steep cliffs line the east side of the saddle. As we met with our party later on, one had GPS coordinates to find the right-most ramp, it was also cairned. (For anyone interested: Left ramp 37 55'44'' N 105 32'20'' W. Right ramp 37 55'49'' N 105 32'31'' W).

Follow Tijeras' ridge all the way down to the saddle
Assessing the situation at the saddle
Taken from above the saddle a bit. As you can see, no exits except the two ramps. The right ramp clearly seen from here.
The ridge started abruptly with a steep incline on good rock. Certainly tests your holds, but we found the rock to be solid and grippy. When it seems like you couldn't make your next move, there was a perfectly placed hand and foot hold everywhere you needed. We stayed mostly ridge proper, sometimes dropping west to avoid obstacles. Dave Cooper describes this ridge as possibly low class 5, I found our path to be solidly class 3 and 4. And fun. You could probably find some 5th class moves, but we didn't come across any. The drop offs from both sides of the ridge were dramatic.

The start of the south ridge
Coming along. We stayed mostly ridge proper, but as you can see, in spots you can drop to the left, or north.
Three specks can be seen: red, purple, blue backpacks
More scrambling with Tijeras behind
More of the terrain
The ridge is broken up into sections, crossing notches, climbing up, then evening out. It was pretty fun and soon we were on Music's summit, not a single other person in sight. From the summit there are great views of Upper and Lower Sand Creek Lakes and the ridge that divides them, the Crestone group, the Blanca group, and Tijeras behind us. It also looks like the ambitious could make their way to Milwaukee, but I'm not sure. We relax for a while and spot the descent ridge from Music's south summit. You retrace your path a ways and head down the class 3 steep and grassy ridge. The descent east ridge was fairly impressive looking from the summit. Definitely steep, and really grassy with enough rocks to make your descent doable.

The east ridge and our descent. Kinda steep for a "grassy descent slope!"
We head down to a nice grassy flat area and met with the other group who opted out of the ridge, and to wait for all members of our party to come down from the summit. The weather was great and the wildflowers were out. After a nice break we head down through a drainage to Lower Sand Creek Lake, actually finding a pretty good trail to some of the upper campsites and making it easily back to the lake with less bushwhacking than on our ascent.

"Grassy slope" Sure
What we came down, pretty much following the ridge

The return to the trailhead was pleasant enough, even the climb back up Music Pass was not too bad. We waited for our group at Music Pass, talking to a lot of day hikers, campers, and a lot of fishermen. Word is Upper Sand Creek Lake had some pretty big fish that day. We made it back to the trailhead to some beers waiting for us in the cooler, sat and chatted for a while before heading home.

Music Pass on our way out
Pretty darn fun day in the Sangres as always. We voted Music's South Ridge as the Sangre's best scramble. Pretty fun day with a great group.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Oh Yeah!
07/19/2018 09:10
That is a scramble that I have thought about for a while now. Seems like opinions vary on how difficult the south ridge of Music is, so I have been a little intimidated. It looks awesome for sure!

Great Outing
07/20/2018 07:16
Well done.  This was an extremely solid mountain trip with a top-notch crew.  Getting up there and reaching these 13er summits is fulfilling.  Glad for having another quality peak adventure

Awesome Day!!
07/22/2018 19:13
Awesome trip report!!! Perfect weather, great group and two very good peaks to summit.

Funny thing...
07/31/2018 15:52
...I hadn't looked at the faces too closely & called up Tom to do this route this past weekend. He explained he'd just done it recently - upon a closer look I see I missed Mr. Sayre as well! This TR was the one that made me need this duo. Thanks for writing it up!

Tornadoman - your profile says you like scrambling with exposure. This route will not exceed class 4 if you are careful & it is as they said here "We voted Music's South Ridge as the Sangre's best scramble." You will not be disappointed!

Cooper's photo
09/15/2020 17:36
I thought the same thing the first time I climbed Tijeras about Cooper's photo. I didn't even look for it the 2nd time, but looking over my photos, I discovered I took several pictures of my wife in that same spot. The picture in Cooper's book suggests the hiker is climbing up, but climbing up that doesn't make sense. So, my guess is that the hiker is climbing down (or around as we did) to get to the small ledge the can be used to get back to the ridge. Here's a link to the series of live photos I took of my wife on this exposed section

If you play the short "live" video by clicking the ""Turn on motion" icon, you can see that my wife is being very careful with her foot placement. The exposure is not to be taken lightly. I am standing on the ridge leading up to the summit just after this spot (you can see this ridge in the last image).

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