Peak(s):  "Igloo Peak"  -  13,060 feet
"Mountain Boy Peak"  -  13,198 feet
Date Posted:  02/25/2021
Date Climbed:   09/05/2020
Author:  Chelsea
 Igloo & Mountain Boy   

“Igloo Peak” (13,060′) & “Mountain Boy Peak” (13,198′)

09/05/20 | 7.48 miles | 2,454′ gain | Class 2


My Labor Day weekend plans fell through last minute and I unexpectedly found myself scrambling to come up with something I could do by myself. After some quick research, I realized the Independence Pass area had everything I was looking for: plenty of 13ers to climb, plenty of people around for safety, and plenty of secluded spots to sleep in my car overnight. It was an easy choice and I set out early Saturday morning, intending to climb Igloo Peak and Mountain Boy Peak that day. I was both nervous and excited for my first solo overnight trip. I brought my dog Lady for company.

After a 3.5 hour drive, I made it to Independence Pass. Even though the area is insanely touristy, 9am was plenty early enough to get front row parking.

Independence Pass: Mountain Boy & Igloo up ahead

An unmarked trail leaves the paved walkway and heads south along the Continental Divide. Once off the pavement, the number of people reduced drastically.

A small pond near the parking area.

The trail stays nice and gradual all the way to the top of Igloo Peak. It might not be ranked (or officially named) but Igloo is a gentle 13er that would be great for a beginner.

Lady in front of Mountain Boy (left) and Igloo (right)
Mountain Boy Gulch
Looking back towards Independence Pass and the many 13ers that I planned on climbing over the next two days.

There is quite a bit of up and down on the way to Igloo, but it didn’t feel strenuous like this often can.

…and down. Almost to Igloo! (Mountain Boy is on the left)
I love how precarious the trail looks here but the exposure felt minimal
The big boulders in the valley below fell off Igloo’s cliffs
One more false summit
Looking back at a section of strange rock. There is a trail through here but it may take a few moments to locate.
Finally, this is the summit

The views were incredible from Igloo, particularly of Grizzly Peak. Igloo is a worthwhile destination in and of itself, but I was feeling good and ready to visit a second summit.

Grizzly Peak A (13,988′) above the Grizzly Creek drainage
Mountain Boy

The easy part of my hike was over and I needed to figure out how to get to Mountain Boy. The obvious answer would be to follow the ridge directly, but all of the reports say do NOT do that as Igloo’s east ridge is dangerously loose Class 4. I obviously wanted no part of that, so I backtracked slightly to the small saddle between Igloo and the first false summit. I recalled seeing a faint trail heading downwards that looked worth a try.

Following a faint trail

I needed to wrap around the south side of Igloo, bypassing any cliffs and dangerous areas. The trail didn’t last long but I kept heading down the loose talus. As long as I went slow I felt safe, though still a bit nervous. I checked my map often to make sure I was staying on track.

What I just came down, note the cliffs to the right

From here, others side-hilled across the south slope, losing as little elevation as possible on the way to the Igloo/Mountain Boy saddle. I do believe this would be a safe option for many, but I wasn’t comfortable so I attempted to find another way.

Many people cut straight across this slope

About 250 feet below me was a bench. I feel more comfortable going straight up or straight down steep/loose talus (instead of across) so I half walked/half slid down to the bench. I would have to regain this 250′ later, but the extra effort was worth me feeling more comfortable.

Note the flat bench below, Grizzly Peak was a pretty view as I descended.

I followed the bench around the south side of Igloo until I could see the Igloo/Mountain Boy saddle. There was an easy route all the way up, mostly on grass and dirt.

Easy route to the saddle
Looking back at Igloo’s south slopes…note the cliffs on the right blocking safe and easy direct passage to the saddle.

From the saddle, I hiked up Mountain Boy’s western slope. The lower section is pretty loose and a number of trails (possibly game trails) criss-cross the area. I found heading straight up to be easier than following the more obvious trail on the right.

Trail options up Mountain Boy

It was less than 400′ to the summit from the saddle, but I was beginning to tire. Just when I thought I wasn’t going to make it, I looked at my map and saw I was only 100′ away. Okay, there’s no way I’m turning back now!

Grizzly Peak in the background with a super cool ridge in front
Mountain Boy’s summit

I finally made it to the big, flat summit. I was completely alone. In fact, I hadn’t seen a single person since I left Igloo. After a short break, it was time to get moving. I was doing a loop so I still had new terrain to figure out.

My next step was to head back down to the Igloo/Mountain Boy saddle. A gully drops down into Mountain Boy Park from the western side of the saddle. It was late enough in the year that the snow was nearly gone and I was able to stay on loose dirt and rock. If I haven’t made it obvious already, I really hate steep/loose terrain. I didn’t particularly like the gully but it wasn’t any worse than what I’d been on already.

Down the gully and into Mountain Boy Park
Looking back up, it’s steeper than it looks and loose near the top.

Once down the gully I crossed the nearly flat Mountain Boy Park, heading north to reconnect with the trail.

Remember the “boulders” that fell off Igloo’s cliffs? This is how big they are. Note Lady for scale.
Mountain Boy Park

There was a short (but again loose and steep) climb back up to the trail on the opposite side of Mountain Boy Park. I aimed for a spot that looked relatively low angle and would avoid any snow and cliffs.

I aimed just to the right of the sliver of snow

I hadn’t seen a single person in hours and it was at this point that I started to feel extremely accomplished, grateful, and just plain happy. I’d summited two new 13ers solo and on terrain that made me nervous, but I safely made it through.

The angle of the sun changed and began to illuminate the fall vegetation, creating a vibrancy that hadn’t been there before. I can’t believe my camera was able to pick this up. (See my below pictures vs. the above. None are edited, this is truly just what it looked like.)

I headed towards the dirt patch on the left, between the strip of snow and the cliff.

Once I climbed up the last 100′ or so, I met back up with the trail and followed it all the way back to my car, now buried in a sea of people. I had to literally (and I actually mean literally) push my way through a crowd to get to my car. I booked it out of there and back down to Twin Lakes where I could call Kyle and check in.

I car camped near the Interlaken Trailhead at Twin Lakes Reservoir. There is a ton of dispersed camping and overnight parking for backpackers on the Colorado Trail. I found a safe and quiet overflow lot, away from the parties on the beach. Unfortunately we weren’t far enough away and guard dog Lady kept me up all night woofing at car doors, dogs barking, people shouting, etc. To say I didn’t get much sleep would be an understatement, and I (very crankily I might add) decided to just head home. I didn’t feel it would be responsible to climb any more 13ers as tired as I was, and the thought of another sleepless night in the car was more than I wanted to deal with.

Even though it ended early, I still felt happy with my first solo overnight trip. But maybe next time I’ll leave the guard dog at home so I can actually get some sleep.

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

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 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36

Comments or Questions
Year removed
02/25/2021 11:58
I did essentially the same route the year before on Labor Day wknd.
Great little combo with wonderful views!
Your reports lately have me missing summer!

Nice report
02/25/2021 13:15
I did the first part of that trail a few years ago, but it was on a supposed
"rest day" so I didn't tread as far as Igloo (nor did I even realize it had
an unofficial name). Seeing your nice photos I now regret my laziness
and lack of advanced planning. And yes Indy Pass can be a zoo at times.

By the way your Doggie seems to be a real trooper!

02/25/2021 14:39
@d_baker: It's my fault for getting so behind on my writing, but these pictures have me longing for summer like crazy! I keep telling myself spring will be here before I know it...

@mathguy: Igloo would have been a fun addition, but I'm sure even without it you had wonderful views! Now you'll just have to go back Lady just turned 8 this month but except for her little gray chin, you'd never know. She's as energetic as ever!

Me, too...
02/25/2021 16:37
Like Darin, I did that same loop as well. And you are correct - lots of 13ers off Indy Pass. I assume you did more on this trip?

And yeah - I'm looking forward to summer, too.

02/25/2021 17:54
Love the shot of Grizzly Pk!

Excellent report
02/25/2021 18:57
I agree with the above statement. That photograph of grizzly from that angle was excellent.

02/26/2021 09:00
@Jay - I was planning on doing the ones across the highway but Lady wouldn't settle down and kept me up all night...I didn't feel it'd be a good idea to climb 13ers solo on little to no sleep so I went home early

@Sbenfield & ltlFish99 - Thanks! I was obsessing over that view, glad my photo turned out

Mountain Boy
02/26/2021 10:25
My wife and I did Igloo a few years ago around Memorial Day; it was quite the zoo up there as the pass had just opened and people were skiing everywhere! We had planned to go on to Mountain Boy but given the snow conditions it looked quite treacherous! Your loop looks like a good option; I have also been considering trying it from the north and thus avoiding the pass altogether.

2nd- I think you would enjoy the 13ers across the pass, 13,500/Twinning is a nice day with nothing too difficult and some fine views.

3rd- Sleep is overrated! (But probably wise to not push your luck if tired + solo)

02/26/2021 12:46
13500 & Twining (and the Geisslers) were on the agenda for Days 2 & 3. I was torn on whether or not I should just suck it up and finish out my weekend, and now I kinda feel like I should have just went for it. But oh well, now I have an excuse to go back

02/26/2021 14:24
Those two are fun! I enjoyed them a lot and you will too when you get back up there. And yeah - Like Andrew said - sleep is overrated! LOL!

Trail from Igloo to Mountain Boy
03/02/2021 21:48
Nice find on the trail from Igloo to Mountain Boy! I did Igloo twice and never noticed the trail. Since the ridge proper was an obvious no go and I didn't want to fight what looked like a heinous dinner plate slope down to the saddle with Mountain Boy I abandoned MB both times, then did it later with Whiley by dropping into Mountain Boy Park right from the pass and ascending and descending the route your return route from MB. Your way looks like a great way to get both!

I'm going to add a suggestion to the suggestions Andrew (Tornadoman) made: Point 13,001 just down to the west from Indy Pass. There's a trail from Independence Lake Trailhead through a beautiful basin to Lost Man Lake and then a lovely off-trail hike up the peak with a short section of Class 2+ part way up. The peak looks ridiculous and difficult from below but it's much easier than it looks and a total blast. It's probably my favorite 13er!

03/03/2021 07:19
Thanks for the additional suggestion Ben! I'll throw all of these on my list for (hopefully) this year. Now it just needs to be summer already!

03/03/2021 09:06
Is a top 10 13er for me easily. It adds on well with the Geisslers and is still not a big day. The ridge has a lot of options, you can find some hefty scrambling or skirt around it.

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