Peak(s):  Maxwell, Mt  -  13,335 feet
Cuatro Pk  -  13,487 feet
"Leaning South Pk"  -  13,203 feet
Date Posted:  07/28/2020
Date Climbed:   07/23/2020
Author:  Mtnman200
 No Trees Passing   

Wednesday, July 22, 2020. My usual partner was unable to do any climbs the next weekend (something about homework, impending final exams, etc.), so I headed to the southern Sangre de Cristos solo to take care of a couple of orphaned peaks that have been on my "to do" list for almost five years.

I drove west and south from Walsenburg over Cucharas Pass to North Lake and then west about three miles on Forest Road 411 and another three miles on FR 437 to its abrupt end at 11,700'. There's no good place to set up a tent here, so I slept in the back of my car.

I'm cooking dinner on my dad's 1970 Coleman backpacking stove at the end of FR 437. I brought my tent but gave it the night off for obvious reasons.

Thursday, July 23, 2020. I followed a climber's trail that took me up Mt. Maxwell's east ridge for a couple hundred feet before fizzling out. That's okay because above treeline a trail is unnecessary. There were some scrubby willows to avoid, but the ridge was easy to ascend. As I got higher on the ridge, it narrowed quite a bit and the tundra and rocks gave way to slabs.

Looking east down Mt. Maxwell's east ridge in the early morning light from about 12,800'

Looking west up Mt. Maxwell's east ridge from about 12,800'; the ridge leads directly to Mt. Maxwell's summit

The occasional scrambling was fun and kept Mt. Maxwell (13,335') from being nothing but an easy walk-up. No register on the summit.

The clouds to the east of Mt. Maxwell's summit cairn made the sunrise more interesting but unfortunately not very photogenic today

Looking south at Mariquita Peak (13,405') from the summit of Mt. Maxwell. De Anza Peak B (13,338') is obscured by clouds to the right of Mariquita Peak

I'd left a Republic of Texas Mountaineers summit register on Mariquita Peak on 8/6/1998, years before I learned Mariquita was on private property. The register was mentioned in a 2004 ODS report and a 2006 report but probably is no longer there.

Looking north toward Cuatro Peak (13,487') from the summit of Mt. Maxwell

I stood there for a while but didn't see any trees passing, which isn't surprising given that this is about 1600' above treeline. Didn't see any hunting or fishing, either

After a brief delay, I headed north toward Cuatro Peak. This involved some easy scrambling, which was more interesting than a tundra stroll. (You'll see the tundra stroll a few photos later.)

Looking south at Maxwell Peak from near the Maxwell - Cuatro saddle

Looking north at Cuarto Peak from near the Maxwell - Cuatro saddle; there's some scrambly fun ahead

I was surprised to find a summit register on Cuatro Peak. The summit consisted of gentle tundra with a few rocks thrown in for good measure. Much of the tundra was golden brown, as though September was already here, and I wondered if the relatively dry winter was the reason. After a quick food break, I continued north toward Leaning South Peak.

Looking back (south) at Cuatro Peak

Looking north toward Leaning South Peak (Taken from the same location as the previous photo)

You can see from the previous two photos that the Cuatro - Leaning South Peak ridge is about as gentle as you'll find anywhere, so I was able to make good time to the summit of Leaning South Peak (13,203').

The CMC summit register on Leaning South Peak had only one other signature this year.

Looking south at Cuatro Peak (with a small snowfield east of the Cuatro - Leaning South ridge) from the summit of Leaning South Peak

Trinchera Peak (13,517') from the summit of Leaning South Peak. Leaning North Peak (13,100') is the small ridge bump to the right of Trinchera Peak

I briefly considered continuing along the ridge to Leaning North Peak, but decided to skip it because 1) Leaning North is unranked and 2) my goal was to return to Maxwell Peak by noon to stay ahead of the weather. Besides, Leaning North Peak easily could be combined with Trinchera Peak.

My return to Cuatro Peak and Maxwell Peak was uneventful, and no more than 20 drops of rain fell by the time I returned to my car.

Side note: With a car shuttle, a ridge run from Trinchera Peak to Maxwell Peak (or Maxwell Peak to Trinchera Peak) would make a very efficient way to combine five summits.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
Did I sign the register?
07/28/2020 14:57
Or did I forget? I think some of the registers up there were wet or missing writing implements. Also, can't pass up "English Saddle" if you keep on going north. Good report, thanks.

It's somewhat campable...
07/28/2020 20:00
I did all 5 from this TH last year and that tiny little bare spot will do in a pinch...and with a thick sleeping pad.

   Not registered?

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