Peak(s):  Boreas Mtn  -  13,082 feet
Date Posted:  01/03/2022
Date Climbed:   10/03/2021
Author:  MaryinColorado
 Boreas: Man, Myth, Mountain   

Boreas Mountain - 13,082'

For those of you who enjoy random, possibly-obscure facts in trip reports that make others ooh and aah over not only your mighty conquest but also your vast knowledge, allow me to introduce you to the fact that Boreas is more than just a 13er: it's a figure from Greek mythology. Boreas was the north wind, stealer of daughters (ok, only one daughter), wrecker of ships, bearer of wings, and wearer of stylish tunic. Though he was king of winds, irony may perhaps be found in the fact that my trek of his namesake would prove to be relatively windless.

One of the things I love the most about September and October is there can be days where the weather is so grand, you don't have to start hiking at o'dark thirty. Instead, you can enjoy this thing people call "sleep" and "reasonable hours". This was one of those days. I'd just hiked Audubon a couple days prior, so I hadn't planned on doing another peak; however, I woke up to such a beautiful day that while I slowly sipped a delicious cup of coffee and pondered life (or at least the next 10 minutes of it), naturally I came to the conclusion that I should be hiking. As the clock edged closer to 8 a.m., Boreas came to be my top contender. Drive Boreas Pass at the peak of "aspen season"? Check. Short enough to allow for a ridiculously late start? Check. Comfortable doing solo? Check. Possibility of some snow? Heck to the check, yes!

I hit the road around 8:30 a.m. When I got to Kenosha Pass, visions of silver-plums - wait, wrong story - visions of chaotic leaf-peeping on Boreas Pass danced in my head. Kenosha Pass was insane! Oddly enough, though, the south side of Boreas Pass was mysteriously void of such traffic, leaving me able to stop at least 1,000 times to take photos of Silverheels through the aspens.

Silverheels framed in gold

And, indeed, Boreas had a lovely cap of snow!

Just the right amount of snow for beginning of October, if I do say so myself!

The Route

Go beyond the old settlement buildings, but don't be too fooled by the path you may find leaving the buildings behind; it doesn't really go where you need to go. I headed northeast with my first goal of being to get to the top of the first minor grassy slope so I could really see Boreas's slope in its entirety and plot my path. I'd read the route description on the .com, of course, and had a GPX track downloaded, but I wasn't concerned about being overly precise on this particular peak.

The first thing you might wonder about is why swing northeast instead of making a more direct beeline toward the ridge/summit? My personal explanation is that adding slightly more distance provides a more efficient path for then heading southeasterly in a fashion that helps avoid willows and a huge talus field.

So, yes, start by wandering gently upward through a "stump graveyard" with great views of Bald Mtn A in one direction and Boreas in the other. Proceed northeast heading for the fluffy green trees. Before you know it, you'll be heading up a short, steep section to top out on the "plains" beneath Boreas's main slope. (You'll be faced with willows, but don't worry; they're not problematic here.)

Onward and upward, gently, through a blend of stumps and young, fluffy trees
Leaving the old settlement buildings behind in favor of higher ground but Silverheels looking on

In surveying from "the plains", I found it tempting to consider a sharp southeasterly turn and making a more direct, diagonal beeline for the summit ridge, but unless you're a sucker for punishment (which I am not most of the time), the willows and the huge talus field are to be avoided. The talus may look fairly benign from a distance, but isn't that the case with all talus until you're on its ankle-twisting, loose nonsense realizing you chose poorly? Below is a poor rendition of good vs. bad; I'll let you guess which is which. The green line obviously isn't precise, but you get the idea: weave through the willows, aim to end up above the talus field as opposed to IN the talus field.

I hike because I can't draw.

The essence: bob and weave through the willows. I kept my eyes on the small bump (left-oriented) most of the time because I knew I wanted to pass just under it in order to gain the ridge. It remains fairly visible most of the way whereas the summit ridge humps are not consistently visible.

Funny enough, I encountered a few cairns on the slope. They made me chuckle because they serve little to no purpose. Also, sorry (not sorry), but if you NEED cairns on a peak like this, you shouldn't be here. This has to be one of the easiest peaks to navigate.

Poor little cairn; she wishes her life had more meaning.

The trekking itself up the slope was your standard 13er tundra trot, nothing problematic about it and pretty darn pleasant. Just below the ridge, snow trekking began; hurray! (Also, much to my surprise, I encountered four hikers making their way down. Turned out I wouldn't have to break my own trail!)

I was snow happy!

On top of the first "summit ridge hump", I donned my microspikes, and away I went. Because of the snow and a bit of slick, I deviated a bit from the route description at this point and went up and over the first hump (12,800') directly instead of to the left of it, then I tried to stay direct as much as possible, but the hump before the summit, I did skirt the "trough" for a little bit before finally going to the top of the hump and then on over to the actual summit hump. (Also, is there a better word than "hump" for these? I don't know.)

Thus begins all the not-the-summit-yet-s. :-) At least you have good visual of where you need to end up, though.
Just go over the happy little waves. (I bet this is a lot less fun in dry conditions since this is all talus, by the way. With snow, however, it was SO enjoyable!)
Just toodling along, minding my own business, wondering if I'll end up being confused about the true summit, and also marveling at how casual of a stroll it is so late in the day. "It feels so wrong!" I thought to myself, dramatically.
Admittedly, the "trough" is a fascinating feature!
Am. I. There. Yet. I actually second-guessed myself here and had to double-check the map. Nope, not the summit yet! This peak hosts a great game of Duck Duck Goose!

Views from the summit are fabulous! Summit to myself, sun shining bright, enjoyed a pretty casual, non-hurried stroll with no fear of incoming weather. What could be better? I see you, Bald, Guyot, Silverheels, Hoosier Ridge, the Pacific group, Quandary, Grays, Torreys. So many great peaks to appreciate from this humble little 13er.

Hoosier Ridge and the unranked Red
The mighty Q (Quandary) and the Pacific/Crystal/Atlantic group - gotta love the aesthetic of that ridge!
Guyot somewhat visible a little ways in the distance
Bald Mtn A - had I actually pre-planned this day and gotten a more reasonable start, I would have just gone over and summitted Bald, as well, but that'll be a nice peak for another autumn day.
Not to be left out - Grays and my personal favorite 14er Torreys

After soaking it all in, I descended roughly the same way I ascended and even found one more cairn on my way back through the stump graveyard. I guess it's there to help point the way UP, but I didn't see it. Again, though, cairns are unnecessary here.

Not sure if I could have found my way back down without this cairn; those buildings are not enough of a visual aid!

Closing Thoughts

Great trek, great peak, great views! It doesn't pose navigational issues, and is a short, beautiful, truly enjoyable day. In fact, even for someone wanting to dip their toes into trail-less trekking (i.e., 13ers), I'd consider Boreas a great "starter peak" to get a taste of that since it offers great visual clarity and easy test of navigating the likes of willows and talus obstacles.

Oh, and you know all those leaf peepers? I thought I was being smart going home via Boreas Pass to Breck instead of going south and risking getting stuck on Kenosha. It turned out that all of Colorado (no exaggeration) had been hiding on the north side of Boreas Pass just waiting for me to try and make my way home. (Face, meet palm.)

As with all things beautifully outdoors, please practice Leave No Trace principles, but by all means take photos and leave a trip report. Happy hiking!

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 6 12 14 18 20 21 22 25 26 27 28 29 30 33 35 36 39 41 42 43 45 46 47 48 50 51

Comments or Questions
01/04/2022 11:01
I like your writing style a lot. I hope to see more reports from you!

Thank you...
01/04/2022 11:14
Jay521! I appreciate the feedback!

Excellent report
01/04/2022 14:22
This was an excellent report with wonderful photographs.
I very much enjoyed your sense of humor in your writing.
Thanks for posting this.

01/04/2022 15:09
ltlFish99! Glad you enjoyed it!

Another good one
01/04/2022 18:35
Refreshing and fun writing style, so thanks for posting!

Thank you...
01/04/2022 21:34
...d_baker for reading it and for the feedback! Hope your year is off to a great start!

Such a nice report!!
01/08/2022 11:15
Boreas is wonderful and Baldy Mtn as well!!
I found out the 2nd time I went up Boreas that the cairns do mark a route from the bottom of the dense willow area up to the ridge through a gully that does not have that many willows, a little easier to go up than the other ones near it and also from the top they "help" finding the route bypassing the ridge and onto the mine relics. Tell me how I found out... haha. Boreas is such a nice peak... and calm. Yes. Calm.

01/09/2022 10:49
Hey, I know this stylish mountain goat! I must have missed the mining relics, unless you're referring to the buildings. I wish I lived closer to that area, I would hike Boreas all the time! I do need to finally do Silverheels this summer, too, though. Such a beautiful mountain! Thanks for commenting, amiga!

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