Peak(s):  Twin Pks A  -  13,580 feet
Date Posted:  10/14/2018
Date Climbed:   10/13/2018
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 A Bluebird Day on Twin Peaks   

Friday, Oct. 12, 2018. In October, the conditions in the mountains can range from 'late summer' to 'early winter.' Randy and I initially planned a couple of mid-October climbing days in the Sangre de Cristos, but as the trip got closer the weather forecast would only give us one day of decent weather. We pared our trip down to a single climb: Twin Peaks (13,580'), which was Randy's only remaining bicentennial peak in the Sangre de Cristos with a western approach.

Sunset from Zapata Falls Campground

We left our home mid-afternoon and made the three-hour drive to Zapata Falls Campground, where we were treated to a beautiful sunset. We were also treated to noisy neighbors whose party continued until well after midnight. Inconsiderate people is one reason we normally avoid camping at popular trailheads and campgrounds, especially on weekends.

Saturday, Oct. 13, 2018. I hope we didn't make too much noise when we got up early and started hiking up the well-maintained trail past Zapata Falls.

The South Zapata Creek Trail

The miles went quickly, and soon we found ourselves at South Zapata Lake, which was covered with a thin layer of ice.

Ellingwood Point stands high above South Zapata Lake, with a campsite visible in the lower right corner

The view north from South Zapata Lake. The South Zapata Creek Trail is mostly covered by snow

Looking west at Twin Peaks from South Zapata Lake

From South Zapata Lake, we headed west and then south to a ridge (seen in the left third of this photo) southwest of the lake

Looking north at the South Zapata Creek drainage from the same location as the previous photo. The Crestones can be seen in the distance.

Once on the ridge, we headed west across a flat area at 12,660' and then began climbing west toward the saddle between Twin Peaks' two summits. Microspikes definitely made the ascent easier.

Randy is on his way up Twin Peaks' eastern slope

Once at the saddle, it was a short walk to the summit of Twin Peaks, where we found a couple of summit cairns but no register. The winds were not as strong as expected, which was nice, and the views were great.

Ellingwood Point, Blanca Peak, and Little Bear Peak from the summit of Twin Peaks

Mt. Lindsey, Ellingwood Point, and Blanca Peak from the summit of Twin Peaks

Looking southwest to the San Luis Valley from the summit of Twin Peaks. Twin Peaks' lower summit (13,534') is at the left.

Looking northwest from the summit of Twin Peaks to the San Luis Valley. The campground and trailhead can be seen near the center of the trees below

Randy on the summit of Twin Peaks, with Unnamed 13,660' and California Peak in the background

Twin Peaks' north ridge looked very inviting, so rather than return to South Zapata Lake, we followed the ridge north to about 11,600'. We then descended steep slopes (the microspikes were very helpful) to South Zapata Creek and the trail. Not recommended as an ascent route!

Once back on the trail, we set the cruise control and headed back toward the trailhead.

Fall colors along the South Zapata Creek Trail

Looking back at Twin Peaks from the South Zapata Creek Trail

An old cabin (not shown on the topo map) at about 9760' along the South Zapata Creek Trail

A closer look at the old cabin

After a brief visit to Zapata Falls, we reached the trailhead and headed home, pleased with our day but glad we weren't climbing tomorrow due to the 9 - 15 inches of snow predicted to fall.

Blue = ascent route; red = descent route

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Thank you for the report
10/14/2018 19:46
Ive been thinking of the Twin Peaks for awhile. Nice to see your option of the accent route works.
I was looking at climbing your descent route catching the ridge closer to the trailhead. Maybe this winter?

Photo 9
10/17/2018 11:02
is a cool and unusual view of the north approach to Ellingwood. Brings back memories of C2 and C3. Thanks for the report.

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