Peak(s):  East Buffalo Peak  -  13,300 feet
West Buffalo Peak  -  13,326 feet
Date Posted:  07/02/2021
Modified:  07/03/2021
Date Climbed:   06/30/2021
Author:  Mtnman200
Additional Members:   RandyMack
 Buffalo Peaks from the South   

Tuesday, June 29, 2021. Randy and I were looking for an isolated climb with good views, but the drive needed to be relatively short. We settled on the Buffalo Peaks and decided to approach them from the south based on a route suggested by Tim Cooney. We drove about 1.7 miles north of Antero Junction and turned west on Salt Creek Road (Forest Road 435). There's a fork in the road at 4.3 miles where FR 435 goes right and FR 436 goes left toward the Buffalo Peaks.

After 1.2 miles on FR 436, we ignored the road turning left toward Trout Creek and continued for another 3.4 miles to an unexpected surprise: a well-stocked and well-equipped cabin that was open to the public. We moved in, signed the guest book, and cooked dinner.

The "Buffalo Peaks Bed & Breakfast" (38.963603; -106.095786) at 11,340' is near an old mine. The road here was a bit muddy in places (All photos by Randy Mack)

Wednesday, June 30, 2021. Randy and I enjoyed getting to sleep on mattresses in a cabin instead of in a tent on the ground, as we're not used to such luxury when in the mountains.

We hiked about 1/4 mile to the 4WD trailhead and followed the old road generally northwest toward East Buffalo Peak. Unfortunately, we lost the trail in the dark (but were able to follow it down later in the day). Even without a trail, it's easy enough to head NNW up East Buffalo Peak's south ridge.

East Buffalo Peak is beginning to come into view in the early morning light as the trees thin out

A fair number of the trees in this area had been dead for a long time

Looking south toward the trailhead

Low-lying clouds to the west of East Buffalo Peak's south ridge

Once you get out of the trees, it's an easy tundra stroll north toward East Buffalo Peak

The grass begins to give way to rock...

...until it's all rock

Looking south toward the trailhead and some low-lying clouds

Evidence of a storm several days ago on the summit of East Buffalo Peak

The gentle summit of East Buffalo Peak. We found a summit register in the summit cairn

West Buffalo Peak from the summit of East Buffalo Peak

The Buffalo Peaks are quite isolated, so there are great views in all directions

A view from the summit of East Buffalo Peak

Another view from East Buffalo Peak's summit

Interesting clouds are beginning to form over the summit of East Buffalo Peak

After a short break on East Buffalo Peak's summit, we headed along the ridge toward West Buffalo Peak

An interesting rock formation below the ridge

The ridge is a bit rocky in places but never difficult

The east ridge of West Buffalo Peak

Almost to the summit of West Buffalo Peak

We didn't find a summit register on West Buffalo Peak, but we did find some wire and a couple of pieces of wood

The rocky summit of West Buffalo Peak

East Buffalo Peak (right) from the summit of West Buffalo Peak

A view from the summit of West Buffalo Peak

Another view from the summit of West Buffalo Peak

A closer look at East Buffalo Peak from West Buffalo Peak's summit

The Buffalo Peaks aren't connected by ridges to other mountains and provide great views

After enjoying the views and having an early lunch, we headed down, bypassing East Buffalo Peak and contouring toward its south ridge.

Looking back as we contoured around East Buffalo Peak

It was nice to be off the rock and onto (mostly) tundra as we descended East Buffalo Peak's south ridge

Looking back at East Buffalo Peak

As we entered the trees, we found cairns that led us back to the trail we'd lost this morning in the dark

Looking back at East Buffalo Peak; the trail (old road) can be seen at the right side of the photo

If you're looking for an alternative to the approaches most people take to climb the Buffalo Peaks, have 4WD (useful for the last two or three miles), and want to stay in the luxurious Buffalo Peaks Bed & Breakfast, Randy and I highly recommend the southern approach.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Love the route!
10/20/2021 18:55
Thanks for taking the time to write up this route, I live nearby and was hoping to summit these without driving all the way to Fairplay. Looks like this will be the route of choice, I spend too much time looking at these peaks not to summit them

08/04/2022 12:42
Looking at doing this route. Do you by any chance have your .gpx tracks for it?

   Not registered?

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