Peak(s):  "K 49"  -  13,535 feet
Date Posted:  08/02/2020
Date Climbed:   07/11/2020
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 A Canine on "K-49"   

My plan for the weekend was to drive out to the San Juan's to climb a couple 13ers. Since it was a long drive from Fort Collins, I decided to break it up and climb a peak on the way. "K-49" seemed like a good choice. It had fairly low mileage and it's class 2 rating allowed me to take my dog. Climbers usually combine this peak with Deer and or Oklahoma, but I thought it would also go good by itself. I didn't see many trip reports on "K-49", and those that I saw included other peaks. I hope this report helps those looking to climb just "K-49". Also, I'll show how I found a way to lollipop this route for those that dislike out and backs like me.

Day: Saturday July 11th 2020

Trailhead: North Halfmoon Creek

Peak: "K-49"

Mileage/Vertical Gain: 8.13 miles, 3003 Vertical Feet


The drive to the North Halfmoon Creek trailhead is a little challenging, but manageable with 4WD and clearance. Most of the road is suitable for any vehicle, and it's only the last 2.5 miles that it gets rough. Both the Massve and Elbert trailheads were jam packed like there was a palooza going on or something. I was glad to be driving further. I arrived at the much less crowded North Halfmoon trailhead by 6:15 am and was hiking about 30 minutes later with my canine friend. We headed up the Mt. Massive Southwest Slopes trail until reaching a junction after a mile or so. We went left at the split and began hiking in a more westerly direction on the North Halfmoon Lakes trail. From this point on we didn't see a soul the rest of the day.

Heading up Mt Massive Southwest Slopes trail.

After a short distance, we left the North Halfmoon Lakes trail and began bushwacking through the trees. We followed several faint trails as we meandered through the woods and eventually crossed the first creek. We continued the bushwack crossing 2 more creeks before turning south towards the North Ridge of "K-49"

We passed this waterfall on the right
Looking for a creek crossing
Crossed here
"K-49" on left. Deer Mtn on right
Avalanche debris field that we crossed
Bushwacking south towards ridge
One last stream crossing

We now began bushwacking directly south towards the north ridge of "K-49". We crossed several snow fields, went up grass gullies and over rock bands before hitting the talus on the lower slopes of the ridge. It was all easy terrain and we just took the path of least resistance.

Approaching talus/scree slope to ridge

At the base of the ridge we began weaving up the large talus and later scree slopes. We eventually hit the ridge just above a large knoll.

Talus slope to ridge
Ridge saddle between knoll and summit

Once on the ridge we continued south climbing easy terrain. Occasionally, there was a faint climbers trail to follow. At around 13,000 the ridge got steeper and the talus got bigger. Still, there was nothing complicated and we quickly worked our way to the large summit.

Deer Mtn from ridge
Getting steeper
Looking down the ridge at Massive
Last bit before summit
Summit pic with Deer Mtn

The summit was big with great views in all directions. We lucked out and there was almost no wind. I probably could have stayed up there for hours. We had bigger plans in the San Juans though so our summit stay was brief. After a quick snack (and treat for the canine) we headed back down the north ridge.

Leo leading the way

Even before beginning the descent, I already had thoughts of trying to lollipop this route. I always enjoy finding alternative ways down rather than repeating the same terrain. So after descending part way down the ridge we turned northeast (instead of northwest where we had ascended from) into the bowl directly beneath the summit. Immediately after dropping down I caught a nice glissade down to a talus pile.

Talus slope that was less painful than it looks
Looking back up

After a short talus hop we were happy to find long sections of soft snow to follow. This was much more enjoyable than the talus for me and the dog. Eventually the snow ended and we came to a couple of lakes. We skirted them to the right as we walked across a large flat area.

Much nicer than talus
Looking back at "K-49"
The last of the snow as we descend towards lakes
Unnamed lake

As we passed the lakes we began looking for somewhere to cross the gorge so we could get back to the North Halfmoon Lakes trail. We went north knowing we'd probably get cliffed out going east and spotted a gully that looked like it would go. After crossing some steep rock slabs we worked our way into the gully and down to the creek. The water was flowing pretty good, but we managed to hop our way across without getting too wet. Once on the other side, we ascended the steep bank and popped out on the North Halfmoon Lakes trail not far from the junction with the Mt Massive Southwest trail. We did a slow jog back to our truck and headed to the San Juans.

Rock slabs and the descent down to the North Halfmoon Creek

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
Love lollipops...
08/03/2020 10:43
What a nice hike with your best friend!

Sunglass Lake...
08/03/2020 11:45 the nickname I've always referred to it as (that's what it looks like on topo maps). I came down that same way (same glissade as well) a few years ago. I did Deer as my start though. Such a pretty area back there.

Best friend
08/04/2020 07:06
Thanks! Hikes are always better with my best bud.

08/04/2020 08:20
You're right! That lake looks exactly like sunglasses on the topo. My terrier has limitations, or I would looped it with Deer. Beautiful area for sure!

I agree...
08/05/2020 22:35
...that€„¢s it€„¢s more fun and interesting to return by a different route than the way you ascended. Nice photos, BTW.

Different route
08/07/2020 13:24
Mtnman- Thanks! Yeah, trailblazing a new route is always fun! That's cool you took the same route.

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