Peak(s):  Unnamed 13688  -  13,688 feet
Gravel Mountain A  -  13,577 feet
Date Posted:  09/14/2021
Date Climbed:   08/21/2021
Author:  13erRetriever
Additional Members:   Bibbie, Chelsea
 Grumbling up Gravel   

UN 13,688 ("Grumble Mountain") with Unranked Gravel Mountain A
Elevation: 13,688 ft.
Rank: 154
Date Completed: August 21, 2021
Mileage RT: ~2.5 miles
Gain: ~1700 ft

I'll start this report with the way I started every other conversation that weekend...CHELSEA TURNED 30!! She came down to see me in the San Juans for a weekend away for her 30th birthday (it was Sunday) and my mom joined in from Fairplay too. Chelsea didn't have any set goals for her birthday weekend, we were just there to have fun and do whatever mountains caught our eye. Enter UN 13,688. I have a poster of the bicentennials in my house. I can't honestly remember when or how I got it, but there's a checklist for the peaks. This drives me crazy. So now, in addition to working on the 13ers and14ers in general, I'm soft focusing on all the bicentennials so I don't have to look at empty check boxes when I'm walking down the hall. Chelsea had never been over Engineer Pass before and we had the Rubicon for the weekend since my mom was down, so we decided this would be a good one for the day. The presence of the Golconda boardinghouse, which has been recently restored, was also a big draw for us.

We left Ridgway a little after 6 am and it was a 4 hour drive over rocky roads to get to Hurricane Basin. Engineer Pass was beautiful as always, and we continued to have views of the interesting Wildhorse Peak and colorful Darley Mountain almost the whole way up to UN 13,688 (which we have named "Grumble" for all the grumbling we did going up Gravel's crappy rock). The road into Hurricane Basin is much rockier than the west side of Engineer Pass and we were glad to have the Rubicon. The only real obstacle is the creek crossing at the start of the road, where I had to get out to help spot, but we cleared the rocks easily. After that it's just steep and relentlessly rocky.

Once you get to the basin you're welcomed by the Golconda Boardinghouse and mining complex. Park here, or if you hiked the road, take a well deserved break to explore.

The Golconda Boardinghouse is HUGE
Just above the boardinghouse is the compressor house and blacksmith shop. There are some excellent information signs here explaining what you are looking at.
In the compressor house

There's a GPX link to our hiking route at the bottom of this report. The entire route is class 2, though admittedly the way up Gravel A is very much so "crappy class 2" where you're sliding on loose gravel and rock while trying to gain traction going uphill. There is a faint trail that we were able to find close to the top of Gravel on the way up. Our descent route on the GPX file is almost entirely on this faint trail which was easier to find on the way down, and I would definitely recommend you follow this for your way up. It won't eliminate all of the suckage but it'll certainly help. The correct trail is the one on the left (west) in the GPX track. Once you reach the top of Gravel, the rest of the route to Grumble is really enjoyable. It's a rocky but walkable (no climbing necessary) ridge with amazing views and a faint trail to help guide you over to Grumble.

The first part of the route starts on an actual trail behind the boardinghouse which eventually ends at a mine. You'll cut off of this trail before it ends to head steeply up Gravel A.

Looking at Gravel and Grumble from Hurricane Basin, almost the entire route in view
Start of the trail, off to the left
Veering off the trail and heading up Gravel A
Heading up Gravel A a bit further. Rock not fun.
Nearing the top of Gravel A, still on very steep terrain
Top of Gravel A looking down on Hurricane Basin
Chelsea found a flask! It was empty, unfortunately...
Looking over at Grumble from the side of Gravel. That's our ridge!
Chelsea and mom coming across the ridge from Gravel to Grumble (Gravel behind them)
Cool rocky ledge section along the ridge to Grumble
Looking back at the ridge
Victory humans! Tell me how you really feel, Harper. Grumble, grumble, grumble.
Time to tighten the hiking shoes for the descent.
Looking south from the summit, and the reason most people won't do this bicentennial from Cinnamon Pass.

The way back was straightforward and as I mentioned before it was much easier to find and stay on the correct "trail" to lead off Gravel. There was much less grumbling and much more gratitude for the excellent day we were just given in the San Juans. We made our way back over Engineer Pass and down to Silverton for some Thee Pitts Again and more birthday weekend celebrations!


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 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 19 20 21

Comments or Questions
09/14/2021 17:03 report! You forgot to mention how we almost didn't climb the last 20' up Gravel because you thought it wasn't on the much grumbling do you think I would have done if I had to climb up there a second time!? LOL! Thank you for celebrating my birthday with me!!

Nice report
09/14/2021 17:03
Nice report with wonderful photographs.
That boarding house looks cool.

two lunches
"oh thats where it goes"
09/15/2021 08:49
i was wondering where the road went that peels off engineer pass! good to know nice report!

09/15/2021 15:39
Gravel is really a pile, I learned that firsthand the day I ran into you and Kyle on Cinnamon! There's some really neat old mining stuff back there. Fun report, Allie, and Harper's looking good as always!

Good to know there is a trail!
09/19/2022 08:02
Appreciate the report and to learn that there is a trail. ALWAYS great to have any semblance of a trail on that...stuff.
Will certainly look for it, when I get around to this one. Oh, and nice write up!

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