Peak(s):  Mt. Sniktau  -  13,234 feet
"Cupid"  -  13,117 feet
Grizzly Peak D  -  13,427 feet
Date Posted:  08/27/2018
Date Climbed:   08/11/2018
Author:  rob runkle
 Loveland Pass 13ers Warmup   

For this years Colorado Mountain trip, we decided to try a few things different:

  1. Rather than camp each night, we decided to rent a condo. This would allow everyone to get good sleep in a bed, rather than a sleeping bag.
  2. We decided to travel during the day, and have a long rest period before hitting the mountains the next day. Usually we fly into DEN very late, and hit the sleeping bag after midnight. Then, we hike to 14k the next day.
  3. We decided to tackle a warm-up 13er for the first day.
  4. All of this, we hoped would get the kids better acclimated.
  5. It seemed to help a bunch.

We arrived in DEN around 9 am, drove towards Silverthorne, to checked into our condo.. On the way to the condo, we decided to go ahead and stretch our legs at the Steven's Gulch trail head. We made it up the 4WD road pretty easily. At this point, we were hitting almost noon, so there were plenty of open parking spots at the trail head. People who started up early had already left. We parked the car, and started hiking up the Grays/Torreys trail with just water bottles. I mostly just wanted to get the crew to a point where we could view Grays and Torreys. You cannot see them from the trail head, but I figured that we could hike a half mile or so, to get a pretty good view of the pair. The hiking went pretty good, considering we had been at sea level only 8 hours prior. About a half mile into the hike, we got a great view of both peaks. During the hike, the kids did great, with only a small amount of complaining. We had not planned this little hike. So, I gave them extra credit for this one. After viewing the peaks, we returned to the trail head. Ultimately, we made the 1 mile round trip in just under an hour.

Grays and Torreys - Stretch the legs hike.

We arrived at the condo late afternoon. We picked up groceries on the way. The condo was nice. It was a bit small for our eight person crew, but at least we all had beds and pillows.

The next day, we left the condo around 5 am. My goal was to get to trail by 530 am. Our target peak for the 13er warm-up was Mount Sniktau. Sniktau is located off of Loveland pass, so access would be quick and easy. We arrived around 530, and got started up the trail. The grade for Sniktau is pretty consistent and not too steep. The trail is about 1.8 miles each way. So, it would be a moderately short hike, perfect for getting the lungs acclimated a little bit. Our crew for the day was as follows:

  • Rob, Anna (11 yo), Nolan (9 yo) - the kids have several 14ers each over the last few years.
  • Chris and Garrett (10 yo) - Chris and Garret both have several 14ers also
  • Scott, Paula and Emma (8 yo) - Scott has bagged 10+ 14ers with me. For Paula and Emma, this would be their first 13er or higher

Scott, Paula, Emma heading up Sniktau
Nolan and Garrett heading up Sniktau
Anna and Nolan
The No-no man!
Nolan and Garrett

As we started hiking, everyone was doing pretty good. The order of the team was established early, and I decided that I would be the tail, and do clean up for anyone going slower. I told Chris that he should pull out front, just to see how he could do, if he weren't attached to kids pace. I was going to pace with Garrett. The order was Chris, Anna, Scott, Paula, Emma, Nolan, Garrett and Me. We basically had 3 small groups with me and the two boys taking up the tail. As I mentioned before, the grade is pretty consistent. There were a few sections that were steeper, but they were short. If these steep sections were at sea level, they would have not even been noticeable. Since I was pacing with Nolan and Garrett, I can comment on our pace. The boys did awesome, and only had to take minor breaks during the steeper sections. There was a moderate amount of complaining, but overall, not too bad for day 1. Chris reached the summit in around 1:40. That gave him confidence that he could pretty easily maintain better than 1 mph on this level of grade (without kids). As we got closer to the top, the boys and I started to gain on Anna, Scott, Paula and Emma. But, they beat us to the top by probably 10 minutes. My "tail group" made it in 2:10. We hung out on top for about 35 minutes.

Rob, Anna, Nolan on the summit of Sniktau
The whole crew on summit of Sniktau
The whole crew!
Emma on Sniktau
Anna on Sniktau

Sniktau was our primary goal for the day, but while taking our summit break, the adults talked about grabbing Cupid, and maybe Grizzly Peak. Each was an additional mile from the Sniktau trail (1 mile for Cupid +1 more mile for Grizzly). We decided not to tell the kids that we were going to go for Cupid, hoping that they wouldn't notice when we turned left, instead of going back towards the car.

They noticed! Our little plan did not fool the kids. At the turn-off to Cupid, the kids immediately knew that something was up, and they were not going for it. It was day 1, and the kids enjoyed Sniktau, but they were mentally ready to get back to the car, and go swimming at the Condo. Paula graciously volunteered to take the kids back with her. We developed a new plan: The Dads would quickly grab Cupid and Grizzly, then meet Paula and the kids back at the car. I did a very bad estimate, and figured that we might be behind them maybe an hour.

Coming off Sniktau
Tired kids at the Cupid-Sniktau saddle

We decided to drop into the Cupid-Sniktau saddle, rather than taking the Sniktau trail back down. That way we could give the kids one more chance to decide if they wanted to try Cupid. When we got to the saddle, it was clear that the kids had made their final decision. So, Paula took Anna, Emma, Nolan and Garrett, back towards the car. We could easily see the parking lot from the saddle, and there was a clear path that traversed and met back up with the Sniktau trail.

The Dads continued up to Cupid. Total time from the summit of Sniktau to Cupid was around 1:15. We quickly tagged the summit of Cupid. I had estimated that we could drop our packs near Cupid, then basically run/jog to Grizzly and back in 45 minutes. Chris and Scott both looked at me like I was nuts.

Rob and Scott on Cupid
Chris, Rob and Scott on Cupid
Torreys and Grizzly from Cupid
Grizzley Slopes from Cupid-Grizzly saddle subpeak
Rob heading towards Grizzly

Chris and I dropped our packs. Scott held onto his pack. Initially we stayed close together. About 10 minutes into the hike to Grizzley, I started having thoughts of a giant marmot dragging my pack off into the rocks somewhere; and, I had left the car keys in my pack. So, I pulled ahead and started jogging a little faster. The route to Grizzly is pretty brutal. The last stretch up the peak is steep. But, in addition to that section, there is a steep sub peak in between Cupid and Grizzly that you have to go over. All of it makes for a pretty brutal 1 mile hike (each way). I ended up getting to Grizzly in 45 minutes. Opps, I guess my round trip estimate of 45 minutes total was off a bit. Once I reached the summit of Grizzly, I adventured a little bit, checking out what a route up Torreys Peak from this side might look like. It looked steep and loose.

I spent 5 minutes investigating, then headed back toward Cupid. Scott and Chris were not very far behind me, maybe 10-15 minutes. As I passed Scott, he asked me, "why the hurry?" I told him that I wanted to get back to the packs before a giant marmot hauled them off. He gave me that "you are crazy" look again." Same thing happened when I passed Chris. I was able to make it back to the packs in 38 minutes. Fortunately, the packs were where we left them. I plopped my butt down on the rocks and started drinking and refueling. I hadn't brought any water or food with me on the 1+ hour hike to Grizzly and back. About 5 minutes later, Chris and Scott strolled up. I caught all kinds of hell from them for my very bad timing estimate to Grizzly and back.

Cupid from Grizzly
Cupid from Grizzly slopes

We continued down the trail, towards the car. Paula had texted Scott and told him that she had taken the kids to lunch and that they were now back at the condo, swimming in the pool. We continued down into the Cupid/Sniktau saddle, and traversed over to the main Sniktau trail. The traverse from the saddle was easy, and much faster than I thought it would be. This traverse takes out most of the steeper sections of the Sniktau trail. As an option, if someone was planning to do all three, they might want to do Cupid, Grizzly, then Sniktau. Take the traverse to the Cupid-Sniktau saddle, and that would eliminate some of the steeper sections of the Sniktau trail. We made it back to the car in about 35 minutes from my resting spot on Cupid. Total round trip for all three was right at 7 hours., 8.3 miles and 3,477 elevation gain.

Overall this was a great warm up day. The kids got as much as they needed/wanted. And, the Dads were able to get in a little additional adventure.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Helpful info
07/08/2022 09:48
Thanks for the effort on this trip report. Always great to read your exploits with the younger kids, inspires me too for getting out with our two boys, with their very different paces but deep love for the mountains. Your details on prep and timing info are really helpful for us in our planning. Maybe we will see your crew on a peak one of these days!

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