Peak(s):  "Magdalene Mtn"  -  13,762 feet
"Pear Pk"  -  13,462 feet
PT 13,517 A  -  13,517 feet
PT 13,220  -  13,220 feet
Date Posted:  09/26/2018
Modified:  06/09/2020
Date Climbed:   09/18/2018
Author:  SnowAlien
 Pears are everywhere!   

"Magdalene Mtn", "Pear pk" and PT 13,517A

Dates: September 16-18, 2018
Trailhead: Rockdale creek crossing, ~9,900 ft
Total mileage for the group: ~20 miles
Total vertical for the group: ~8,800 feet

Magdalene mountain has been on my Bicentennial to-do list for many years. I first saw it from Emerald in August of 2012 when I first started hiking Centennials, but pretty sure didn't even know what it was or how to get there. Fast forward 6 years, and Magdalene remained my last unclimbed Sawatch bicentennial (out of 22), which is saying a lot. It means it beat out such notable talus heaps as Rinker, Garfield, Mamma, Taylor, etc, etc. Who am I kidding? - most of the Sawatch bicentennials are slogs, with just a few notable exceptions. I would probably repeat just 4 - Aetna, Sayers, Twinning and Anderson (all as ski descents, and maybe the last one also as a ridge scramble). Deer was a nice late season ski, but the approach length is ridiculously long to actually enjoy it. Ok, back to "Magdalene". Aside from it not being a destination scramble, there was a serious complicating factor - I don't have a high clearance vehicle, meaning I'd have to start from Rockdale. This was the way I dayhiked Iowa and Emerald back in 2012. But several more years of experience successfully desensitized me to the "horrors" of road walking, most notably, our May'16 approach and the ski of the East face of Huron, when we basically had to start at the Rockdale creek crossing anyway even with an appropriate high clearance 4x4, as the road was still blocked by snowdrifts. Same idea with starting from Winfield for the ski of Refrigerator couloir this May. You won't find me complaining about hiking in trail runners on dry road versus in ski boots over snowdrifts! By this time, I have also "discovered" the existence of Pear and UN 13,517A with an interesting-looking ridge between the two. Given the 3 ranked objectives, the backpack to the Clohesy lake definitely made sense.

Day 1 - approach to camp ~11k
3.5 miles, 1,100 ft gain, 2 hours

After extensively researching other options that morning and eliminating them, I finally zeroed in on the trio. Backpacking stuff was pretty dialed in after the recent trip to Weminuche, but I still needed to restock on supplies and fuel. After getting to the trailhead around 3.30pm and some last-minute packing, I started hiking just before 4pm. My original plan was to get to the Clohesy lake and to camp at the nice campsite there. Upon reaching the lake in 1.5 hours (which wasn't too bad), I discovered the lake pretty shallow and the campsite views a bit lacking. Maybe I should go just past the lake, and I do so. I find a nice campsite about half mile past the lake and settle in by 6 pm. After dinner, I examine Gaia and feel like an idiot - why didn't I set the camp further up in the drainage which would save me a few more miles of hiking in the next couple days? I know it would bug me later, so I decided to move the camp up in the morning.

Day 2 - Magdalene
7.5 miles, 4,000 ft gain, 8 hours

I woke up at 5.30 am, and by 6.35 am packed up the camp and was ready to go. After another mile, I found a suitable campsite just across from the proposed exit gully descent from PT 13,517A. I set up the tent, filtered more water, grabbed the day pack and was finally on the move by 7.45 am. The trail to the saddle with Emerald is gentle and I got to the saddle in 45 minutes. Then I just followed Al's (piper14ers) route to another saddle and the Silver King lake. There was a lot of talus, thankfully broken up by grassy tundra for sizable stretches. After the lake, I followed a pretty decent trail initially up the ridge and then across the face, but when it ran out, I ended up on the loose talus in the middle of the face. Got to the summit around 11.15 am and stayed for about 30 minutes. On the way down I decided to stick to the ridge where I found the rock a bit more stable. I retraced my steps back to the saddle with "Pear" seeing if I'd be energized to add it on, but decided to "save it" for tomorrow, and headed down to the tent instead. Reached the camp by 2.45 pm, and spent the rest of the day lounging and taking in the upper basin views.


Emerald and talus from gaining the saddle with Missouri basin

Views of Missouri basin (Pine creek drainage), Oxford (L) and Harvard (R)

Silver King lake at the base of Magdalene

Talus ascent up Magdalene

On the Class 2+ ridge

Views of Harvard and Columbia from the summit

Talus ascent back to Pear lake

Staying high above Pear lake

Back at camp, enjoying the views of the upper basin

Day 3 - Traverse from Pear to PT 13,517A and backpack out
9.5 miles, 3,700 ft gain, 8 hours + 2 hours for a hike out

Alarm went off at 5.30 am again, but I was still sore from the day before. After partially packing up the camp and breakfast, I was on the move by 7.10 am. I was moving a bit slower today, as I was bringing more water for the traverse and no water filter. The warm-up hike was almost enjoyable, and upon reaching the pass, this time I turned right and the easy scrambling commenced. I tried to stay as high on the ridge as possible, but at some point had to drop left on an obvious ledge and to bypass some interesting looking terrain.

Early morning on the ridge

Ok, this is strange - I am seeing a pear!

Route bypass goes under the pear-shape feature

Scrambling up solid Class 3-4 slabs to gain the ridge

The ridge so far with Emerald and Pear lake

After that I could have continued on some ledges, but I scrambled up to the ridge and didn't regret it, as the rock was solid and enjoyable. After rounding the corner, I thought it was the home stretch, but the ridge just kept going and going! I finally got to the summit at 9.45 am, a bit behind schedule.

The ridge to the false summit of Pear

Emerald and Harvard from Pear

Clohesy lake from Pear

The first part of the traverse didn't look threatening (and the 2nd half was too far away to see the details), so I started on the traverse at 10 am. Unfortunately it was a bit windy, and all the easier bypasses were on the left (windy) side. The descent off Pear starts as Class 2+, with easier bypasses quite obvious on the looker's left side.

Initial descent off Pear

The meat of the traverse after the grassy patch (Apostles on the left)

About half-way through the traverse, there is a nice broad grassy patch, but then the actual scrambling begins. The meat of the traverse are several pinnacles with varying rock quality. In most cases, it is possible to stay on top of the ridge (class 4), but in one particular case, I had to bypass the pinnacle to the left on a fairly loose ledge. For the Pt 13,220 I found it easier to bypass the initial difficulties on the right side, and then scramble back to the ridge soon thereafter (exposed class 3).

First pinnacle is bypassable on the left, and I was able to gain the ridge thereafter

Looking back at the pinnacle and the ridge bypass

Another pear shape along the ridge

Last difficulties before PT 13,220

Apostles dominate the views

After reaching Pt 13,220, I could see the bulk of the traverse was over, but I was discouraged to see still a bit more to go. The scrambling moderated to 2+/easy 3. At some point I noticed some figures near the summit of Pt 13,270, but when I got there, there was nothing. Hmm, weird. After several wardrobe changes (too hot in a windbreaker when the wind subsides, but too chilly in a t-shirt when windy), I finally made it to the start of the summit ridge - and promptly slipped through the shifting boulder bruising my shin. Had to told myself to keep paying attention and not get too excited (yet), and at that moment noticed 2 figures near the summit. Wow, fellow 13er hikers! I picked up the pace and soon joined the new acquaintances, Paul and Nancy on the summit, just after 1pm, meaning the traverse took me about 3 hours. With less route-finding, photos, ducking for wind gusts, and back and forth wardrobe changes, probably should have taken a bit less.

Pt 13,517A summit ridge

Summit ridge

Huron and the view of the traverse to unranked Pt 13,472 B

I had hopes to continue to the neigboring unranked 13er, but the traverse views were sobering, I was already tired from the long traverse from Pear and still had the unknown descent and a backpack in front of me, so I decided to play it safe and descend with Paul and Nancy who came up from the Clohesy lake.

Downclimbing the ridge with Nancy (photo by Paul)

Photo by Paul

Nancy on class 4 ridge downclimb

On the descent

The descent was fairly straightforward, after a tedious talus slog on a low angle, I reached the top of the "nose", where Gaia pointed me in the direction of the "easier" terrain. Past the difficulties, I could point my fellow hikers to the same grassy gully I descended from below, and after making sure they are ok, I descended on fairly easy terrain on the looker's left side of the creek, popping out of the trees right across from my tent at 3.15 pm. After a customary cup o'noodles soup, with renewed energy, I was back on the trail by 4pm, reaching the car at 6pm even with many stops to enjoy the scenery. Wading through the creek at the end felt really good on sore feet! Overall, this felt like a reasonably short and enjoyable backpack as compared to my last Weminuche one :)

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

Comments or Questions
09/27/2018 06:43
Looks like a fun ridge. Thanks for posting and providing the information.

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