Peak(s):  Gray Wolf Mountain  -  13,602 feet
Mt. Spalding  -  13,842 feet
Date Posted:  06/14/2020
Modified:  10/29/2020
Date Climbed:   06/12/2020
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Gotta Get It Outta My System   

Thursday, June 11, 2020. When we did the Sawtooth in 2012, the plan was to add Mt. Spalding and Gray Wolf Mountain on our descent from Mt. Evans. Unfortunately, the weather didn't hold that day, and we orphaned Spalding and Gray Wolf. With Randy pursuing Colorado's bicentennial (200 highest) peaks, we needed to return to the area but were somewhat less than enthusiastic about the western approach to these peaks because it includes a slog through the willows/bog along Scott Gomer Creek.

What to do, what to do? Hey, I know! Let's ride our bikes up the closed-for-2020 Mt. Evans road and climb Mt. Spalding and Gray Wolf from Summit Lake.

We loaded up our bikes and drove toward Mt. Evans, intending to camp at West Chicago Creek Campground. Unfortunately, all of the first-come, first-served campsites were full, so we continued to the start of the Mt. Evans road adjacent to the currently-closed Echo Lake Campground. After a tasty dinner of chicken quesedillas, we slept in the back of our 4Runner in the parking lot. We both agreed we'd prefer the tent.

Friday, June 12, 2020. It's nine miles with 2200' of elevation gain from Echo Lake to Summit Lake. With the road closed to motor vehicles, this was the perfect time to try our first bike/climb combo. We started biking up the Mt. Evans road under beautiful clear skies.

Still a long way to go (Photo Credit: All photos by Randy Mack)

Reaching the Mile 4 sign was a big milestone because the first four miles have the most elevation gain per mile

Still not to Summit Lake yet, but we're feeling confident we'll have a successful day

Finally, we reached Summit Lake, locked up our bikes, and took a break in the shelter cabin.

Mt. Spalding rises above Summit Lake, where walking on the ice is not recommended today

Mt. Evans (left) and Mt. Spalding (far right) above Summit Lake

Some of the concrete in the shelter cabin apparently was poured on July 11, 1925, with four of the workers leaving their initials in the uncured concrete.

Some people just can't resist wet concrete

A.E. was more specific with the date than his friends

Almost 95 years ago, W.D. joined in the fun as well

We hiked to the northern end of Summit Lake and then followed the Mt. Evans trail as it climbed Mt. Spalding's east ridge.

From where we left the Mt. Evans trail at about 13,500', Gray Wolf Mtn. was visible in all its snowy glory

As we headed across the broad saddle between Spalding and Gray Wolf, we stayed on higher ground to the east (right) to avoid any marshy areas

The snow on Gray Wolf's summit block could be easily avoided, and soon we found ourselves on the summit. The makeshift summit register had only two names (before ours) this year, though we know from ListsofJohn that at least one other person also climbed Gray Wolf today.

Mt. Evans, Mt. Spalding , and Mt. Bierstadt from the summit of Gray Wolf Mtn.; the water bottle we found on Pikes Peak in 2012 makes a cameo appearance

Looking west from the summit of Gray Wolf Mtn. toward Square Top Mtn., Argentine Peak, Mt. Edwards, Torreys Peak, and Grays Peak

The summit cairn on Gray Wolf Mtn.

After eating lunch, we headed toward Mt. Spalding. We took a more direct route once we realized that marshy areas between Gray Wolf and Spalding were insignificant.

Looking back (NNW) toward Gray Wolf Mtn. as we headed up Mt. Spalding

Almost to the summit of Mt. Spalding as the clouds continue to build

At Mt. Spalding's summit, a marmot (aka "mountain devil") eyed our Cajun trail mix and jerky with interest but wisely chose not to do anything he'd regret. A couple of climbers descending from Mt. Evans walked by and seemed not to notice us or perhaps weren't in the mood to talk.

Mt. Evans (left) and Mt. Bierstadt from the summit of Mt. Spalding

We'd initially considered including Mt. Warren (13,307') and Rogers Peak (13,391') today, as these peaks would have added no more than 1300' of elevation gain. However, the weather didn't look like it was going to hold, so we decided to save them for another day and headed down the trail to Summit Lake and our bikes.

Descending Mt. Spalding's east ridge, with Rogers Peak (left), Mt. Warren, and the Mt. Evans road in the background

Gray Wolf Mtn. peeks over the Spalding - Gray Wolf ridge from near the Spalding - Mt. Warren saddle

Chicago Lakes as seen from near the Spalding - Mt. Warren saddle

The shelter cabin is visible on the far side of Summit Lake. You can see from the clouds why we decided to skip Mt. Warren and Rogers Peak today

We took a short break when we reached our bikes before saddling up and heading (mostly) downhill back to Echo Lake. There were a lot of bicyclists on the Mt. Evans road today taking advantage of the lack of auto traffic. Rain began only a few minutes after we returned to Echo Lake, so we didn't regret skipping Mt. Warren and Rogers Peak. Besides, we'd gotten both of our main objectives. All in all, it was a good day.

Blue = route from the Summit Lake shelter cabin to Gray Wolf Mtn.; red = route from Gray Wolf Mtn. to Mt. Spalding and back to Summit Lake

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
How long was the uphill?
06/14/2020 16:52
How much time did it take to ride the bike from Echo Lake to Summit lake? I may have to give it a try as well. Sounds like a neat alternative and a good year to try something like that.

10/18/2020 09:06
Shooter: I don't know exactly (never turned on my phone), but I think about 2.5 hours. I'm guessing a faster bicyclist might take two hours.

06/14/2020 21:09
The other guy logged into the register a little later than you two that same day, followed by me the next day. What are the odds of two back to back Gray Wolf TRs?

   Not registered?

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