Peak(s):  Half Peak  -  13,841 feet
"Quarter Peak"  -  13,674 feet
Date Posted:  08/30/2009
Date Climbed:   08/28/2009
Author:  scotthsu
 Three Quarters   

Itinerary: Cataract Gulch TH (9600') to Half Pk (13841') via E slopes; traverse to "Quarter Pk" (13674'); descend Quarter's E slopes back to TH
Party: scotthsu (Scott) and Nice Axe (Amy)
Stats: ~11 miles RT, ~5200' climbed, 9 hours car-to-car
Difficulty: class 1 trail approach, lots of class 2 talus and steep grass, and a short section of class 3 on the upper E slope of Half Pk

It was good to be back in the Lake City area for the first time in over 14 months. We were targeting some long but technically easy days. Some of our objectives involving rope-work (e.g., Snowmass-Hagerman traverse, Ellingwood Ledges on the Needle) are now on hold since Amy is 5+ months pregnant () and her belly is gaining an identity of its own (read: forget about the climbing harness). We drove up from Los Alamos, NM and slept in the back of the car at the Cataract Gulch TH parking area.

We started hiking around 6:20am, just bright enough to see w/o headlamps. We met another hiker starting out about the same time; he was headed for PT 13164 for what sounded like a pleasant long hike. The trail is in good shape and easy to follow. It climbs relentlessly through many switchbacks and heads past several small waterfalls over the first 1.5 miles.

Looking back down Cataract Gulch toward Sunshine Pk (14001'):

On the way up, I was paying attention to the east slopes below "Quarter Pk," not knowing whether a direct descent down it would be a willow-fest. I was glad to see that there were nice grassy slopes all the way back down to the trail, and from that moment I decided we should try for both peaks.

The other hiker caught up to us around tree-line and we hiked together for awhile, enjoying a nice chat, until we left the trail near a small lake around 12080'. We headed NW up grassy slopes toward Half Pk:

We aimed for the ridge slightly SW of the 12940' saddle between Half and "Quarter" Peaks and then followed the class 2 ridge toward the summit:

We reached a notch and then traversed south across one loose gully in order to reach another gully that would lead us up to the summit plateau:

There were cairns here and there and some class 3 moves. There is loose rock in this gully; a helmet is recommended! Soon we were on the summit plateau and walked west toward the high point. The sheer ~800' drop-off to the north is dizzying. We reached the summit around 10:20am, making for a 4 hour ascent.

View to the north with "Quarter Peak" (13674') in the center-foreground:

Spectacular view of the Weminuche Wilderness to the south:

Amy descending the class 3 section just below the summit plateau:

We headed for the 12940' saddle. Here, Garratt & Martin's route description suggests climbing up ~400' and then descending 400' NE. I don't think that's necessary, as we just contoured NE at the ~12900' level the whole way, first on nice rolling grass:

Then we continued on tedious talus, staying just below cliff bands which we skirted to the east:

More talus to cross with "Quarter Pk" (high point in photo). We headed for the ridge just to the right (north) of the steep step:

It was loose class 2+ to the ridge and more very loose, very steep class 2+ to the summit (initially staying to the west of the northern false summit). We reached the summit around 12:40pm, about 2 hours and 15 minutes after leaving Half Pk. Summit shot w/Half Pk in the background:

Looking down Square Gulch and the Cuba Gulch road:

We enjoyed a snack and the fabulous views for about 30 minutes and then headed down. We headed north along the ridge toward the highest patch of grass and then descended easy grassy slopes, heading SE. View up the grassy slopes with "Quarter Pk" center-left:

We aimed for the trail at around 11500' where it meanders through a talus field (just north of a stream crossing). We picked up the trail with zero willow-whacking required! It was a fast hike back to the car, and we could enjoy the waterfalls in daylight:

We reached the car around 3:20pm, making for a 9 hour day. If you are fit and efficient, the Half and "Quarter" combo, the way we did it, is highly recommended. There's no need to retrace your steps back to the 12940' saddle as Garratt & Martin suggest.

Despite the TR title, this was a pretty full day

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
nice RT and TR
08/30/2009 18:16
Heck of a round trip you put up!

Two of us did the S ridge route on Half last year, while a third member of our party went over for ”Quarter” because he needed it for his Bi-cent list.
I never thought of the ”Quarter Peak” addition. Is it actually called that?
Your route makes a lot of sense.

I agree, it‘s a nice area, and with fantastic views of the Weminuche from the summit of Half Peak.

08/30/2009 21:07
d_baker, thanks for your comment. i hadn‘t seen the combo called ”three quarters” before and just thought it was a cool name

Great photos
08/31/2009 14:15
Nice trip you guys. That waterfall looks really cool. I like the trip title!

08/31/2009 23:03
for the comments guys. I think the ”Three Quarters” combo is indeed worthy of a classic rating. As for the baby, I think she‘s got 19 CO peaks this year, but she‘ll have to climb them all again under her own power!

Some nice lookin Centenniels
11/30/2010 17:28
Are you counting these summits for the baby?

Its nice when plans come to fruition, finding out that you can link up peaks with descents that don't suck as much as you would think or heard. Thanks for another obscure San Juan 13er fest.

75 cents
01/19/2011 03:38
Scott, I believe you‘ve coined a classic.
Thanks for the TR--there aren‘t too many out there.

Nice Axe
Great TR
02/05/2011 00:22
I love this area and it was great to be back. IMHO, it really is one of the most beautiful in CO. Authentic italian dinner at A&A‘s in Lake City is an added bonus. Thanks Angelo!

Thanks for posting a great TR Scott and for nailing the alternate descent from Quarter Peak. It was great to get both of these peaks!

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