Peak(s):  Peak 9  -  13,195 feet
Peak 10  -  13,633 feet
Date Posted:  06/28/2020
Modified:  06/29/2020
Date Climbed:   06/14/2020
Author:  nmedica
 The Breckenridge Traversathon   

It was a spur of the moment idea. I thought I had a hiking partner for a big day in Wild Basin, but they bailed, and I had just completed a long solo day on Meeker the weekend before,, so the objective was going to be a solo Tenmile Range traverse. I knew I wanted to traverse the Tenmile Range, and I had eyed numerous lines and iterations (how far to take the traverse and various bail points) on CalTopo during Denver's COVID-19 shelter-in-place mandate in April 2020 (crazy times). It was set; I would try the traverse on Sunday Morning and run it back to Frisco. Most of the "running" GPX files I could find online took the line from Frisco but ended at Breck; I guess folks Uber back to Frisco... I wanted to do it self-supported.

Start with your trekking poles out. The line bombs up about 3700' over 3.9 miles, so it's steep and uphill to gain the ridgeline at Peak 1. Depending on the time of year be prepared to deal with permafrost snow blobs that make the trail a bit discontinuous and somewhat challenging to navigate in trail runners.

From Peak 1, you will weave on-and-off the ridgeline in class 2 and class 3 terrain (with the occasional class 4 move; whatever that means) until you reach Peak 4. From Peak 4 on you can trail run the entire traverse (with the exception of Peak 10). It's truly amazing to be up so high with amazing views in all directions running unencumbered with the terrain actually allowing for a run stride (sans a few rock fields and the occasional snowfield in June).

Peaks 5 through 9 were fun and pretty mellow aside from the 50 mph sustained/notorious Breckenridge winds. It was blowing so hard at one point; the winds were rattling my eardrums. The forecast called for 15mph sustained winds with gusts at 25 and an otherwise bluebird day. That is NOT what I experienced for several hours on that ridgeline.

I made the mistake of thinking I was on Peak 10 on Peak 9 and was disappointed when I saw the final climb up Peak 10. I would argue the final slog up Peak 10 was the most challenging of the day, as you are tired, low on oxygen, and you're forced to essentially hand-over-hand scramble the talus to the summit. It's a pretty anaerobic activity at the wrong time of the traverse. The one saving grace (I had no crampons or ax) was that the snowfield on Peak 10 I had been worried about all day looked mellow and the jeep road looked descend-able in trail runners.

It was Mid-June, but Peak 10 still had plenty of snow on it, and plenty of people were hiking their downhill ski gear to the top and skiing down. I'm not sure this was kosher with Vail Resorts, considering Breck had been shut down for a number of months due to COVID-19, but plenty of people were doing it. The run down to Breckenridge is a long one, but I slapped in headphones and cruised the mileage. I was pumped, as I had just completed a traverse I had eyed the past ten years from Highway 9 . The "scrambling" on Peaks 1-4 is SUPER mellow. Any trail runners looking for a big "runnable" line up high - this is it!

Once I hit Breckenridge, I had no urge to call for an Uber. Where is the fun in that. It was a warm and sunny trip back to Frisco via the blue river bikeway (the paved path that connects the two towns). Breckenridge was having a festival and everyone was wearing masks and eating outside at tables in the street due to COVID-19 fears. From Breck, I more-or-less just followed the bike path and was able to grind out the paved miles back to Frisco for the remainder of the day. The day ended at ~29 miles | ~7.5K gain | ~9 Hours.

Leaving the parking lot in Frisco at 6am
Example of a firm/permafrost snowfield low on the shoulder of peak 1.
Looking up and over to Peak 1. Get ready to grind away at the initial 3.7K gain in ~4 miles.
This is a good example of dropping below the ridgeline to find easier class 2/3 terrain.
Looking out toward Peaks 5 through 10. You can see the snowfield looming on Peak 10 that I was nervous about descending in trail running shoes.
The first person I encountered since leaving the car at 6am was a snowshoer summiting Peak 9 from Breck.
Looking up at what I thought was Peak 10. Peak 10 is black scree face in the background.
Looking over to Peak 10 from Peak 9. I was relieved I was going to be able to run down the 'lightly' snow-covered jeep trail.
Full panoramic view of the Tenmile Range from the "Blue River Bikeway."
  • I'm an ok trail runner and mediocre scrambler.
    • I started the day at 6am and made it to Peak 10 in about 6 hours
    • ~11.6 miles + ~7.6K gain
  • I descended and ran the route back to Frisco in about 3 hours
    • ~17.4 miles + ~7.7K descent
  • There is a great parking lot here to park for the day in Frisco.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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