Peak(s):  Mt. Adams A  -  13,931 feet
Unnamed 13580 A  -  13,580 feet
Unnamed 13546  -  13,546 feet
Date Posted:  05/28/2020
Date Climbed:   11/10/2019
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 Mt Adams Trifecta   

I'd been wanting to climb Mt Adams ever since last summer when I first saw it. I was climbing the North Face route on Kit Carson and Adams could be seen rising prominently above Willow Lake. It's classic pyramid shape stood proudly as the guardian of the basin and was begging to be climbed. With winter approaching my buddy and I were looking to do one last relatively snow free climb. I love climbing in snow, but just wasn't quite ready for it. At this point in November, most of the peaks were pretty well snowed in with the exception of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Right away I thought of Mt Adams. After some research I found that Adams was surrounded by several unnamed 13ers that we could tack on as well. Bonus! I checked the City of Crestone webcam and saw very little if any snow on Crestone Mountain (the locals name for Kit Carson and Challenger Point). With what looked like perfect conditions and a great weather forecast the plan was set. I left the next night to meet my buddy Keyton at the Willow Creek trailhead.

Day: November 10th, 2019

Peaks: Mt Adams, Pt 13546, Pt 13580A

Trailhead: Willow Creek

Mileage/Vertical Gain: 14.31 miles, 5941 vertical feet

As usual I got to the trailhead very late after the long drive from Fort Collins. My buddy Keyton was already there asleep in his truck. As expected, the road in and parking lot were dry. I quickly got into my sleeping bag for a few hours of truck sleep. We were up early and on the trail well before first light for the almost 5 mile approach hike to Willow Lake. The miles go by quickly in the dark and fortunately the trail was dry for the first 3 miles. For the last couple miles, the trail was snow covered with a good boot pack, but no traction was needed.

Final approach to the lake

We arrived at the western end of Willow Lake just before sunrise. After going just a bit further around the edge of the lake, we left the trail and turned north. I had read there was a faint trail, but never spotted one. We stashed our unused snowshoes, that we had just carried nearly 5 miles for no good reason, and bushwacked up the steep slope leaving the lake behind.

Willow Lake

We were quickly above the lake and spotted the entrance to the upper basin which was below Mt Adams. While skirting to the left of a cliff band we climbed a steep grassy slope and entered the basin. Snow was spotty and mostly nonexistent as we had hoped.

Entering the upper basin

Once in the upper basin we could see the notch in the saddle between Adams and Pt 13546. We made a beeline to this saddle and the scree slope which led up it. We were able to avoid most of the scree by staying to the right and walking up a steep, grassy slope to the saddle.

Scree slope to notch in saddle

At the saddle we turned west and headed up the grassy ridge towards Pt 13546. We stayed on the crest of ridge most of the way. Occasionally we'd go a little left or a little right (although not too far right as there was a big drop off) to avoid snow. We did end up crossing a couple snow patches but nothing major.

Looking back at Adams while climbing Pt 13546
Heading up Pt 13546

The ridge was class 2 the whole way and became a bit rockier in forms of slabs as we approached the summit. Staying to the left in grass and snow was always an option, and the views of the west side of Adams were tremendous. It was just over 600 vertical feet to the summit and a very moderate climb overall.

Nearing 13546 summit and looking back at Adams
Big rock slabs along ridge
Approaching summit with Fluted Peak in background
Mt Adams
Pt 13546 summit
Challenger and Kit Carson

The views were amazing in all directions. We lucked out with perfect weather and could see for miles. After a quick break and snack we headed back down towards Mt Adams, our main objective for the day.

Descending Pt 13546

The descent down Pt 13546 went quickly and we were at the saddle in no time. From the saddle we continued east and were now on the West Ridge of Mt Adams. After a short scramble over a rocky outcropping, we began climbing the mostly grassy ridge and stayed slightly right of the ridge crest. To the left of the ridge there was plenty of exposure and it became more significant the higher we went.

Climbing Mt Adams and looking back at Pt 13546
Amazing views of Challenger, Kit Carson and Crestones as we climbed Mt Adams West Ridge

As we approached the summit block we stayed on the ridge proper and enjoyed some fun class 2/3 scrambling on solid rock. There was a nice system of steep ledges that led us directly to the gully that would allow us to easily access the summit.

First ledge
Second ledge

After the ledges we came to the steep class 3 gully that led us to the final summit push. It had a nice crevice right down the middle making it easy to climb.

The Gully

At the top of the gully we turned right for the final class 3 climb to the summit. The rock was very solid, and was much easier than it looks in the photo below. The views from the summit were outstanding!

Final pitch to summit
Looking North at Horn Peak
Humboldt, Crestones and Kit Carson
Our next objective, Pt 13580A

After a brief stay on the summit admiring the views, we head down the South Ridge of Mt Adams toward Pt 13580A. The class 2 ridge was wide with mostly solid rock interspersed with tundra and talus all the way to the saddle 700+ vertical feet below. Lots of exposure to the left, but no reason to get close. We did this quick then continued up the Northwest Ridge of Pt 13580A

Heading south off Adams
Working our way down to the saddle
Looking at 13580A as we approach the saddle
Looking west at our ist 13er of the day Pt 13546

The climb up 13580A was more rock slabs and loose talus with no real obstacles to speak of. We stayed just underneath the ridge as it curled south to the summit. We slowly gained the ridge proper and hit the summit after 400 or so feet of gain from the saddle. Yay! 3rd summit of the day. We soaked in the amazing views as the perfect weather continued.

The steep east face of Adams
Summit of Pt 13580A looking towards Crestones
Looking back at Adams from 13580A

We knew it was possible to continue on this ridge to Pt 13517B and Pt 13541, but we were done for the day. We were satisfied with the trifecta of peaks we climbed and headed back to the saddle with Adams. From there, we headed straight down a scree slope to the basin and back to Willow Lake. We grabbed our snowshoes and hit the trail back to our vehicles.

Looking SE at Pt 13517B and Humboldt Peak.
Mt Adams
Safely back in the upper basin with Challenger and Kit Carson straight ahead.
Willow Lake

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
Super pics
05/28/2020 22:01
Thanks for the great report.
Looking to do these in June.
Great job

05/29/2020 11:19
Thank you Peak200! It's a great route. Good luck!

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