Peak(s):  Mt. Elbert  -  14,438 feet
Bull Hill A  -  13,761 feet
Casco Peak  -  13,908 feet
Frasco Benchmark  -  13,876 feet
French Mountain  -  13,940 feet
Date Posted:  08/06/2022
Date Climbed:   08/04/2022
Author:  frigidridge
 French Elbert Loop   

French-Elbert Loop

Via Mount Elbert Trailhead (North) and/or North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead

Mount Elbert
Bull Hill A
Casco Peak
Frasco Benchmark
French Mountain

Class 2/Easy Class 3

~19.5 miles

~7.2K vert

Time: 12 hours. 3AM-3PM

I wanted to try a more interesting route to tag centennial French and sister peaks while not orphaning Bull Hill. Being a fan of alpine loops I tried this cirque. Most is easy class 2, with actual trails for the beginning and the end. I was originally going to go counter-clockwise starting with French from the North Halfmoon Creek Trailhead as I assumed the 14er's popular route would be the nicest to take down, but upon mapping out the route the 4wd road out from French is more gradual and well-defined. Plus, if you're starting earlier than most at the Elbert trailhead you miss the rabble. Mileage and vert aside, I found this route fun, beautiful and interesting with no real technical challenges. The finishing 8 miles below treeline feels long, but to my relief it was easy on the knees and you can really fly down it.

Also if the plan starts to go pear shaped it is easy to bail between Casco and Bull Hill north directly to this 8 mile exit road, or south off of Bull Hill towards the independence pass road.

At the summit of Elbert, looking towards the finishing peaks Casco (pointy left one) and French (friendly right one).
Looking back at Elbert, headed up Bull Hill A.
On the summit of Bull Hill looking at the ridgeline to Casco.
Looking back at Bull Hill and the ridgeline. Headed up Casco.
Gorgeous view south.
Taken on the ridgeline towards Frasco.
Looking back at Casco from the ridgeline up Frasco.
Frasco is kind of a hot mess, but not difficult to navigate or very unstable. French was cooing at me from a distance. I was getting eager to do that final scoot up.
Looking back at French from the point where I hit the 4wd road 110J. I followed the standard route up French which goes up the gully to the saddle bump. There's no trail and It's steep but not too unstable, and quite efficient. After the next 5-6 miles you hit the main Halfmoon road and have to do 2-3 more miles back to the Elbert Trailhead or possibly hitch a ride there.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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