Peak(s):  Unnamed 13626  -  13,626 feet
Unnamed 13317  -  13,317 feet
Unnamed 13078  -  13,078 feet
Point 12,837
Date Posted:  06/18/2020
Date Climbed:   05/23/2020
Author:  supranihilest
Additional Members:   whileyh, MWatson, Garrett
 The Adventures of Pooh Bear and Friends   

For what's seemed like months Whiley and I have talked about climbing the chain of 13ers west of fourteener Mount Princeton. This had been going on for so long that it was basically a running joke when we couldn't decide on anything else or weather seemed like it would be a problem, or things of that nature. "So, uh... it looks terrible everywhere. Princeton 13ers this weekend?" "Yup." "Swell." It never actually happened because we would find other things to do, and with Chaffee County Road 344 finally opening past Cottonwood Lake Campground north of Princeton we decided to finally stop joking and climb them. I guess we'll now have to come up with some other obscure peaks somewhere to jokingly use as our Plan Z after everything else has failed.

This was a fairly large day, and we named all of the peaks after Winnie the Pooh characters based on nearby unranked thirteener "Tigger" on Princeton, so here's the fun map I threw together to give a sense of the size of the hike:

Everyone's so happy except poor Eeyore.

For the purposes of this report I mostly won't be referring to these peaks by their Pooh character names, since that's confusing, but this is my official request to unofficially call these peaks by cartoon animal names, because why not?

Whiley and I met the night before and Marisa met us in the morning. While they drove a shuttle vehicle up they dropped me off at the bottom so I could scope out the way across South Cottonwood Creek, since there's an old mining road that snakes partway up Point 13,626's northwest ridge. There's no longer a bridge for vehicles, but there is a very large tree with its branches sawed off that goes over the creek. It's on private property so I investigated it from a distance. When the other two came down they parked over at the (still closed) campground and then we all snuck along the creek and quickly crossed the tree to the old road.

There were over nine thousand Private Property/No Trespassing signs but it's a good thing that we completely ignored every single one of them.
The tree crossing. You can see the bark is stripped off, and all the branches on the top of the tree have been sawed off.
The road. Duh.

On the other side of the creek we began hiking quickly up the road to get away from the buildings down low. There were Private Property/No Trespassing signs on the road as well, but we didn't run into anybody on the road. Elevation gain on the road was fast, and before we knew it we'd gone two miles and well over 1,000 feet of gain.

Looking down towards the campground.

The road ended abruptly near a set of collapsed log cabins, evidence of what was probably an old mine site. (Sorry, we have no photos of the cabins; the lighting was horrible.) There was a small cairn here and a trail which shot off to the right, so we began following the trail as it made a more or less direct line up the ridge. The side we were on, to the west, became a kind of soft, sandy mess, and kind of steep as it dropped down into a bunch of rounded ribs. When the trail fizzled out we hiked to the ridge crest and stayed either on its top or on its eastern/climber's left side. This also avoided most of the snow, which we were happy about. At a break in the trees our first objective, Point 13,626 ("Piglet Peak"), appeared.

Point 13,626, aka "Piglet Peak". It looks like that might be a nice snow climb! Getting to it would be the biggest issue, since Spruce Gulch looks like it could be nasty based on topo maps.

Route finding without the trail was no big deal, since the ridge was pretty broad and forgiving. The forest wasn't a disaster of deadfall and the route can essentially be described as "go up."

Mountains and women, what more could I ask for?

When we reached treeline the ridge stretching to 13,626 become more apparent; we had a lot of work ahead of us, even for this one peak.

Simple tundra stroll and talus hop.
This is a loooong ridge, y'all.
And an even longer one to Point 13,317.

When we topped out on the first bump of the ridge we took stock of our situation. Lots of distance. Lots of talus. Some tundra. Some snow. All good. We'd noticed someone coming from the direction of 13,317 and he caught up to us as we began the spur off to 13,626 - Garrett, climber of many a 13er, (300+!) had come up Hope Gulch farther west, and would spend most of the rest of the day with us.

Rocky ridge to 13,626.

A couple of rough, rocky bumps bisected the ridge, and we scrambled right over them. The rock was mildly questionable but the scrambling was short lived and easy at Class 2+ tops, and the exposure was minimal.

We went straight up this, maybe 20 feet of scrambling.
A little bit of Class 2+ scrambling on the ridge. Photo: Marisa W.

There were two or three snowfields to cross en route to 13,626 and while they were hard and slick they were mostly flat and our trail runners did fine, no traction needed.

Snow actually made these short sections easier.
Whiley, myself, and Marisa coming up the final snow to the summit. Photo: Garrett M.

By the time we'd topped out on 13,626 we'd gained over 4,000 feet of elevation. It was a pretty massive peak, to my surprise!

Mount Princeton.
South with Antero, Shavano, and Tabeguache on the left and numerous 13ers in center and on the right.

There were some familiar names in the summit register which had been placed in 1992(!) and we caught our breath for a few minutes. We'd done more than half the gain for the day already, but still had two thirteeners and a twelver to go, so a brief respite was needed. We took about 15 minutes, then began retracing our steps down the ridge before skirting under the first major bump we'd ascended.

We didn't go all the way to the bump on the right, but contoured around its left flank. Point 13,317 and Point 13,078 are visible near the top of the frame.
Down talus-laden slopes, then across the strip of snow. We'd have dry ground for quite a while after that at least!
We've got a looong way to go still. The peak on the right is 13,078, and isn't even our final peak of the day.

There were two semi-large, rolling tundra bumps en route to 13,317 that were easy and went by speedily. When we topped the second one and looked down to the saddle, there were roads and a cabin. I remembered the cabin from reading a couple of other trip reports; the road to the left goes south into Weldon Gulch, right goes north into Hope Gulch (not to be associated with centennial thirteener Mount Hope A), and straight ahead presumably up to the ridge crest on 13,317; snow covered the end so I don't know where it stopped.

Point 13,317, another monstrous peak.

We wandered over to the hut which had a small, locked outhouse and the most ridiculous steel, multi-padlocked door I've ever seen.

This is one hell of a hut. That door was practically a bank vault door. Photo: Whiley H.

From the hut there were two options of ascent: follow the road to the north ridge, then ascend probably on snow (we couldn't see the other side of the ridge, which may have been dry), or go directly up the east face on a massive talus field.

Whiley skipping for joy for another 13er.

The other three of my compatriots took the former, and I the latter. I mostly wanted to compare what the two routes would be like.

My route up. Yuck.
I don't know what I expected.
Their route up with Point 13,299, aka "Mount Roo," on the right.
Well that looks a lot easier than mine. Dangit.

I ground up the talus field and met them on the summit of Point 13,317, aka "Eeyore," so nicknamed because it's a gigantic blob of anhedonia, just like Eeyore from the stories.

We all thought this was Point 13,078. It's not.
Looking back towards Point 13,626 and Mount Princeton. 13,626 is enormous and Princeton completely dwarfs it.

"Eeyore" was really dragging us down, what with it being about as inspiring as well, a chronically depressed purple cartoon donkey plush toy come to life, so we left quickly for what we thought, at first, must have been Point 13,078.

This is actually Point 13,299. Point 13,078 is on the right.

Point 13,299 was actually kind of fun, and also provided a good bit of questioning for the day. Each of us had over 300 feet of gain from its low point with 13,317, and on maps it appears as if it could be soft ranked. It's got at least 260 feet of prominence at a minimum based on contour lines, and yet nobody seems to consider it its own peak. Except me, I suppose. Given some of the other pint-sized peaks I've climbed, this one definitely deserves some recognition as "almost there."

Just before the summit ridge.
Ooh, more scrambling! This route needed a lot more scrambles to beat the tedium. Photo: Whiley H.
Rough and rocky stuff before Point 13,078. Photo: Whiley H.
The route from Point 13,299 to Point 13,317. How is this not ranked?

We were getting close to the end and it was about 1pm, so we just kept right on moving. One more peak for Garrett; two more for Whiley, Marisa, and I. The talus off 13,299 took us a minute and then there was another 700 or so feet of tundra up to Point 13,078. There are no small, easy peaks on this one.

Marisa frolicking below Point 13,078.

13,078 actually had the most difficult climbing of the day - a moderate angle snowfield that our trail runners didn't do so hot on. Whiley led up and kicked sideways steps into the slope the whole way, racing ahead of us.

Not that nice in trail runners.

Still, 13,078 wasn't difficult, and if it were dry it would have been even easier. The ubiquitous talus found everywhere else would have gotten us up 13,078, aka "Pooh Peak." I'm going to say this one is so named because at this point we were all "Pooh"ped.

Big day is big.
One. Last. Peak. Point 12,837. So much for names.

At this point we split from Garrett. He went down 13,078's broad north ridge while we continued west towards Point 12,837. It was only 48 miles away as the crow flies, and another 198,234,714 feet of elevation gain, practically right there! We noted a large cornice and steep snow heading north from the saddle into our intended descent route into Green Timber Gulch, but we did identify a safe way down into the gulch. Some people were also descending into Poplar Gulch to the south, which we took note of in case we also had to go that way.

Not Point 12,837. This is just another false summit.

Fortunately for us Point 12,837 was the peak of the day with the least prominence (if one doesn't count 13,299, that is). We were all pretty tired by this Point. Ha. Get it? It's a double entendre. Whatever, nevermind.

Up to the false summit.
This is the actual summit of 12,837. How utterly droll.

We got up to Point 12,837, aka "Christopher Robin Mountain," and were glad the elevation gain for the day was over. The summit register was quite wet but had a number of interesting entries including Gerry Roach, Alyson Kirk, Ken Nolan (three times!), and Furthermore (Derek) of fame.

The day in full. Whew!

By now it was about 2:30pm and we had to get down. We made our way back to the saddle, then dropped down into Green Timber Gulch, almost immediately unable to stay off the snow. I glissaded a short slope while the other two cut across snow to a dry trail segment.

Doesn't stay dry for very long. Photo: Marisa W.
Way too much snow. Photo: Marisa W.
Attempting to cross on snow. The photo doesn't show all the postholes. Photo: Whiley H.
Me wandering around in a mess of awful snow and willows, yeehaw. Photo: Whiley H.

The snow by this time of day was absolutely terrible. Waist deep and wet, it was completely unsupportive yet not soft enough for simply plowing through. Each and every step left a two-and-a-half foot deep posthole, and we made it maybe a few hundred feet down the gulch before our feet and legs were soaked. We had wanted to go down this way but were making absolutely no progress, so we decided to turn around and head back up and over to Poplar Gulch. We weren't sure if it, too, would be a snow-filled disaster but we had seen people come up and go back down it so we figured it was OK. Our suspicions were correct; after hauling ourselves slowly out of Green Timber Gulch, squishy feet and all, and descending into Poplar Gulch, we ran into all kinds of people and even a few dogs as they came up. Far better than Green Timber Gulch, that's for sure. Aside from maybe two or three steps the whole way down we were able to avoid snow, basically the exact opposite of Green Timber.

Is that... a trail? I haven't seen one of those in hours! Photo: Whiley H.

Poplar Gulch was a quick, easy, and most importantly, dry descent and we shortly found ourselves in St. Elmo which was packed to the gills with tourists.

St. Elmo. Tourists. 'Nuff said.

When we reached St. Elmo we took a short break and then began hoofing it down the road with our thumbs out hoping for a ride. After only a few minutes a nice gentleman and his wife stopped and asked us where we were going. Since they lived in Buena Vista it wasn't too far out of their way to take us to Cottonwood Lake. We hopped into the bed of their pickup and they drove us back to Cottonwood Lake where we retrieved the other two vehicles and then went into Buena Vista for Chinese food. Today was a nice foray into childhood fantasyland. Easy. Dreamy. Good times. Good friends. Happy places.


Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H., Marisa W., Garrett M.
Trailheads: Cottonwood Lake Campground (start), St. Elmo (finish)
Total distance: 16.89 miles
Total elevation gain: 7,524 feet
Total time: 9:25:54
Peaks: Three ranked thirteeners, one ranked twelver

  • Point 13,626 aka "Piglet Peak"
  • Point 13,317 aka "Eeyore"
    • Point 13,299 aka "Mount Roo" (soft ranked/sub-summit of "Eeyore")
  • Point 13,078 aka "Pooh Peak"
  • Point 12,837 aka "Christopher Robin Mountain"


Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
Cottonwood Lake Campground Point 13,626 2:52:17 2:52:17 14:00
Point 13,626 Point 13,317 1:36:24 4:42:41 6:52
Point 13,317 Point 13,078 1:14:13 6:03:47 0:00
Point 13,078 Point 12,837 0:49:13 6:53:04 0:00
Point 12,837 St. Elmo 2:32:50 9:25:54 Trip End

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48

Comments or Questions
Holy ridge
06/18/2020 21:16
Impressive ridge run. Love the names too. Now I have some ideas for this summerðŸ¤

two lunches
06/18/2020 21:16
reading this report, i was tired enough to laugh at this wonderful pun

keep on rocking in the free world

Poplar Gulch
06/19/2020 07:24
You are amazing!!!. I love your reports and I am always glad to see you have great company!.When I was in St. Elmo a few weeks ago attempting Tincup and Emma Burr, I saw the TH for Poplar Gulch and wondered where it went!. So I guess, I will need to check it out as it looks like it goes from St. Elmo all the way to Cottonwood Creek... Thank you for your adventures!. They are very inspiring!.

Next road down?
06/19/2020 15:41
I was planning on your same basic plan, but hiking or driving up the 348 road thats just to the west of your ascent path. You don't know if that one still has a bridge?

Then skipping pt 12837. Both because its a 12er, and also because I'm a wuss and a 7500 ft day sucks hah.

Alpine Cemetery start...
06/19/2020 17:46
Between this report and Wild Wanderer's recent 13,626 report I am thinking about trying this trio from the Alpine Cemetery. Looks like 16-17 miles but the last several miles of the route would be downhill on trail and then road. And maybe I could even catch a ride the last bit. Hmm..... Your reports often make me think of combos I hadn't really considered. Thanks!

06/21/2020 17:43
@Flyingfish: It's a great ridge run, and can be done solo by going up or down the road at the end of the day!

@Steph: Ha, I also got a laugh out of it.

@Teresa: Poplar Gulch is a great area to explore. The trail is easy and impressively built in some spots. Definitely worth a trip over there. Thanks for the comment!

@Trotter: I don't know anything about 348 but that's how Garrett came up, so you might send him a PM. I beg to differ on the 7,500 vert days!

@Andrew: Give 'er a go! With a shuttle it's even easier. The stats are big but don't let that fool you, the terrain is pretty benign mostly. Tedious, perhaps, but no surprises.

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