Peak(s):  Ogalalla Peak  -  13,138 feet
Red Deer - 12,391'
UN 12277
Date Posted:  08/31/2020
Date Climbed:   08/30/2020
Author:  Derek
Additional Members:   Brian Thomas
 North Indian Peaks Loop   

August 30th, 2020

Trailhead: Beaver Reservoir

Distance : 23.8 Miles

Elevation : 6,250'

Been a long (long) time since I've put up a trip report here! I figured it would be worth sharing this route for Ogalalla, as there really is no "easy" way to get it, but this way may be one of the more straight forward ways. (Although still a long day.)

Ogalalla had turned myself and Greenhouseguy back short of the summit last summer after attempting on one of the eastern couloirs (Snow conditions) so I had a need to get back and give it another try. This is a remaining peak on two of my major "lists" I'm working on, the Indian Peak Wilderness list and the Front Range Above 12K I had double the need to get back there.

Brian agreed to join me for the fun, and we left my place in Lakewood around 4:15, arrived at Beaver Reservoir at 5:45, on the trail at 6:00. The first 3 or so miles is quite flat, and parallels the 4WD road up to Coney Flats. You can cut these 3 miles off with good 4WD, but personally I think it is just as quick hiking it. I've hiked up this MANY times, and its never taken more than about an hour. We continued along the trail to Buchanan Pass with the wind picking up as we were working our way up the trail. Forecast called for 20 mph sustained and 45 mph gusts today, but thank goodness even though it was windy it never seemed to reach that speed. We reached Buchanan Pass after 6.5 miles and just under 3K feet, sitting us on the ridge we would use for the remaining trek to Ogalalla.

From Buchanan Pass, I immediately headed up Red Deer which hangs just to the north of the pass. Somehow, I have found myself on this summit 5 times now. Just always seems to be on the way to somewhere! After the easy slope up, I descended to the NW and met back up with Brian who was headed for the ridge to UN 12277. There is just one outcropping preventing easy access between the two summits, but is easily circumvented to the right. Past this, pretty mellow slopes up to UN 12277.

The trek between 12277 and Ooh La La presented the longest distance between peaks for the day. It starts with a bit of a talus scramble down and up (class 2), then a VERY flat mile or so trek northwest along grassy terrain. Then just before reaching Ooh La La, there is another small portion of talus hopping including the final ascent to the summit. I think my favorite part of this portion were the views to the west into the Stone Lake basin... Cooper/Marten group, Watanga group and Hiamovi group all visible. Some great memories on all those summits!

Leaving Ooh La La, we started to get some cloud build up above us. We pushed on a bit quicker, but taking time to look off to our right at the saddle with Ogalalla to plan our descent path. We found an exit that looked like it would go, then continued up to the summit of Ogalalla. As expected, some fantastic views of the southern RMNP and Elk Tooth to the east. With this summit, Elk Tooth now remains my final unclimbed peak in the Indian Peaks Wilderness, so looking forward to getting over there soon.

With the meat of the ascending done for the day, we scurried back to the descent route we scoped earlier and jumped in. The descent path followed the Ogalalla Express couloir, which I was a bit familiar with from Greenhouseguy and my attempt last year. Also, Roach notes this descent as a viable option, although he states it would be miserable as an ascent. Very true, because even though it "worked" as a path to descent, it was VERY loose. We routinely set off mini gravel slides on the way down, and we weren't having a ton of fun at this point. Finally we made it off the steeper crap, but then faced a mile or so of large and loose talus hopping. Somewhere along this point Brian provided his colorful opinion on his decision to join me for the day. Eventually, we spit out at Pika Lake, which is just about a quarter mile from the St. Vrain Glacier trail. This is a semi-popular trail that leads up to Gibraltar Lakes from the Middle St Vrain Trailhead.

We connected with the St Vrain Glacier Trail and started the descent back to the Middle St Vrain Trailhead. Originally, we were going to meet a friend at that trailhead who had been out for a day hike to Gibraltar Lakes, and she was going to shuttle us back to Beaver Reservoir. Unfortunately, we were a bit later than I originally planned, so by the time we descended it was beyond the time I had told her to go ahead and take off. So Brian waited at the trailhead by Camp Dick with our packs, and I started the jog back up to the other trailhead. Apparently, the older map I was using didnt reflect the current location of a trail used to connect the two trailheads, so I ended up doing an AWFUL bushwhack up the slopes. Beaten and bloody and covered in mud, I finally stumbled on the trail just before reaching Beaver Reservoir. Not the best end to an already tiring day! Back to my car, I headed back down to Camp Dick to collect Brian and the packs.

Fun day! Never a bad trip into the IPW!

Headed up to Buchanan Pass. (Above Brian's head)

Moose. ALWAYS moose in this area.

Almost to the pass.

View west from Buchanan Pass

The route ahead from Red Deer. Ogalalla is the distant center peak with the vertical snow line. LONG way to go.
One of the obstacles on the way to UN 12277 from Red Deer.

Looking back at Red Deer from near UN 12277

On ridge between UN12277 and Ooh La La

Along the ridge to Ooh La La

Ascent up to Pt. 13049 from Ooh La La

Stone Lake Basin. Cooper/Marten on left, Hiamovia group on right, Watanga group distant right.

Elk Tooth from summit of Ogalalla

Coney Lake and Copeland Mountain

Starting the descent down into Ogalalla Express couloir.

Dropping into the basin on the Ogalalla Express couloir.

Some remaining snow offering a tiny glissade.

Still making the way out of the drainage towards Pika Lake

Pika Lake, and the end of the awful talus.

Looking back up from Pika Lake. Our descent in the center.

Headed down St Vrain Glacier trail.

Pond along St Vrain Glacier trail. Note that the trail is a bit confusing here, make sure and cross a log jam near here.

Headed out.

Close up map of the summits

Overall map of the day.

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

Comments or Questions
Welcome back!
08/31/2020 12:51
Nice to see a report from you, Derek. You always do such a fine job with them. And like you did in the LCW, you are hitting all the IPW peaks too. Makes me want to head up there soon! I assume the crowds weren't bad? You two sure had a long day...

Beautiful report
08/31/2020 22:44
I love reading reports about the ipw.
It's one of the few things I miss about not living in denver anymore.
Thanks for posting this.

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.