Peak(s):  Treasurevault Mountain  -  13,701 feet
Mosquito Peak  -  13,781 feet
Kuss Peak  -  13,548 feet
Date Posted:  08/17/2021
Date Climbed:   08/12/2021
Author:  petal53run
 The Up & Down Trio   

The Up & Down Trio

Thursday has been my one day of the week to choose an adventure close to home because of high gas prices. Last week I mountain biked Segments 1-2-3 of the Colorado Trail(pic1). A couple weeks ago, while standing on the Pennsylvania Mountain summit and breathing in the mountaintop views I sized up next weeks climb in the Mosquito range neighborhood: London (13914), Kuss(13569), Mosquito(13781) and Treasurevault(13701).

I left Denver 4AM to avoid the Frisco construction/traffic S on 9 to Alma. About 1.5m is Mosquito Pass (CR12) going W. Its a graded dirt surface to the right fork, marked by “4 wheel drive only” sign(pic2), which is a fairly smooth drive(pic3) to the TH(11560) on the left. Beyond that, its definitely 4WD. Total distance is 6.9 if choosing to drive through the 2 large puddles flooding over road(pic4). I hiked the last tenth mile to the 4WD portion of the pass road(pic5). The advantage of starting at 11560 elevation is not only is it a quick climb to the top, but being at willow line(pic6), who are short, I could see my climbing lines to the goals.

Mosquito Pass(13185) originally was a shortcut for wildlife as it was a shorter option than going 77.5m around the highway. Mosquito Pass Wagon Road Company carved it into a tollroad in 1879. The booming mining business was dependent on this 18mile transport shortcut between Leadville and Alma. Travelers and more wildlife followed. That was when the weather was good. The local minister, Father Dyer snowshoed it during snow season and survived to 85years old but during the winters, the pass was the highway of the frozen dead for others.

When the Denver, South Park and Pacific RR reached Leadville via Boreas Pass with a formal snow removal system in place, Mosquito Pass eroded into an obstacle course of big rocks, streams and ruts. In 1949 an attempt was made to smooth the road surface but 4WD enthusiasts and burro racers preferred the rough terrain options as a trophy challenge.

Under crystal clear blue skies, my plan was hoof up Treasurevault first, go up and down the hills and finish with London Peak. I simply followed the dirt 4WD road(pic7), up to the right turn(pic8), hopped on rocks and high grasses through the mini streams(pic9), lots of pretty flowers(pic10) and rocks(pic11), saw a deer(pic12), left the 4WD to pass the SW side of the Cooney Lake(pic13) to the grassy saddle(pic14)that leads upward to the N side of Treasurevault(pic15). With no established trail, it’s the eyeball the shortest distance between 2 points method which worked the whole morning.

Mining ruins were evident(pic16-17). An area of serious mining, past and present, an unbelievable amount of ore was processed for gold, silver, lead, copper and zinc. Remains are the abandoned N&S London Mines(pic18-19-20)(1875-1942) on Mosquito Pass. My research found the existence of the Snowstorm Dredge(pic21) (1941-48) sitting on private property between Fairplay & Alma. Its tailings are piled around.

On the summit of Treasurevault Mountain(pic22-23), down(pic24) and up(pic25) to Mosquito Peak summit(pic26-27), down(pic28) and up(pic29) to the Kuss Peak summit(pic30-31) and going toward London Mountain(pic32). Then the skies began to fill with gray(pic33). While I was debating which way to go, my answer appeared out of nowhere; a jeep driver stopped and asked if I would like a ride before the weather worsened. I graciously accepted the ride back to my car. Lucky for me because halfway to CO9, the rain poured down.

In sum, this was a pleasant Class1-2, 6mile loop hike (includes return ride). The footing was solid even when finding a line through the water. Going counterclockwise was Class1 until I descended down the rocks on Kuss’s E side, which I judge as Class2. If starting clockwise, the scramble up those rocks would be more Class3. Route finding was clear because all the peaks were obvious. Even though Mosquito Peak was the official 13er of the trio, the “I climbed 3-13ers” answers the “what did you do today” question nicely. While enjoying the spectacular Mosquito and Sawatch range views(pic34-35), my eyes followed the brown ribbon 4WD route(pic36). This is the 21stC but during the gold rush era…What really amazes me is the extraordinary driving skills that stagecoach & freight wagon drivers had to maneuver their teams of animals up and down these narrow rutted and rocky roads.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 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 38 39

Comments or Questions
interesting day
08/19/2021 14:09
Nice pictures, good route description and interesting research

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