Baker Mountain P300
Walton Peak P1K
Elmo BM P750
Rabbit Ears Peak
North Walton Peak
Peak 9,728ft P300
Peak 7,825ft P300

Mon, Jul 26, 2021

With: Eric Smith
Ingrid Dockersmith
Christian Giardina

Etymology
Story Photos / Slideshow Maps: 1 2 3 GPX

Continued...

Today's Steamboat adventure took us southeast of town in the Routt National Forest, where US40 goes over the Continental Divide at Rabbit Ears Pass. Today was more a driving exercise with little hiking, leaving the Jeep to do the brunt of the work. Ingrid and Christian where heading to Boulder in the afternoon and could only join us for a few of the summits in the middle of the outing. While they were busy packing up their vehicle, Eric and I headed out to do a few easy summits before they were scheduled to join us at the pass.

Baker Mtn

Baker Mtn is located on the Continental Divide, south of US40, between Rabbit Ears and Muddy Passes. It was the only hike of the day with significant hiking, though still only about an hour and a half for the roundtrip. We started from Forest Road 307, only a short distance from the highway. The route is entirely cross-country, hiking through forest to reach Baker's more open NE Ridge, then up the ridge as views begin to open. The summit is perched on the edge of the vertical West Face, a dizzying view from above. There was some haze today, but not nearly as much as the previous day, with decent views to the south, west, and east. To the north could be seen the famous Rabbit Ears in the distance. A register dated to 2012 with four pages of entries. We returned via substantially the same route, finishing up by 8:40a.

Walton Peak

This one is a drive-up to the telecom installation found on the summit. Also found on the south side of the highway, but west of the Continental Divide, it took us about 45min to make the drive to the 10,559-foot summit. This was Eric's second time here, having first visited it a month earlier on foot from nearby North Walton. The road to Walton is a bit rough, high-clearance recommended.

Elmo BM

Elmo lies about a mile northwest of Rabbit Ears, just north of the Continental Divide. We were a few minutes late meeting Ingrid and Christian at the junction of FR315 and US40. We left their vehicle there, piling into the Jeep for the rougher ride. FR311 climbs up the Continental Divide from Rabbit Ears Pass near Dumont Lake. It climbs to over 10,000ft to reach the Base Camp TH near Fishhook Creek. We didn't take it to the TH, stopping along the road where it passes under the south side of Elmo BM. From our starting point, it was a 30min hike up through open slopes and forest to reach the summit, partially open to views. There was a USGS benchmark from 1949 but no register.

Rabbit Ears Peak

This was the most interesting peak of the day, by far. Two peaks, actually, with the inclusion of East Rabbit Ears. There is a rough 4WD road that drives to the very base of these volcanic plugs. The road is more popular as a hiking route, and I felt a little guilty driving numerous parties from the road as we passed by, a cloud of fine dust following in our wake, despite the low speed. We were the only vehicle found driving up and down the road on a Monday. We parked at the base of the west summit, initially looking for routes to its top but finding nothing obvious. We continued on a use trail over to the east summit which we knew was slightly higher and a 5.7 rock climb up its east side. We hadn't brought any climbing gear with us, using this as an initial scouting effort to see if we thought it looked reasonable. We were swooped upon by one of the falcons that had made a nest 2/3 of the way up the climbing route. It flew about screeching and making an awful racket to drive us away. We hung around only long enough to take a few pictures, ascertain the route's location, and then retreat. Whether we had the skill to do the climb was now moot, as we certainly weren't going to climb through a nesting site. We returned to the west summit and went about doing a more thorough search for a scrambling route there. The east, north and west sides were too vertical to consider, leaving only the south side. I settled on a 20-foot chimney that seemed to offer the easiest route up. The rock was decently solid and the chimney felt secure, and in less than a minute I was past the crux. The remaining 30ft or so is all class 3. Eric climbed up after me, but when Ingrid gave it a try she backed down after a few moves. Not liking the looks of it, Christian declined to give it a go. Eric and I continued to the top where we stayed only a few minutes, ascertaining that it was impossible to tell which ear was higher without more accurate equipment than our eyeballs. We reversed the moves without incident, returned to the Jeep, and drove ourselves back down the road. We left Ingrid and Christian off at their vehicle, Eric and I continuing on to North Walton.

North Walton Peak

Like Walton Peak, North Walton is also a drive-up, albeit via a different Forest Road off US40. The road to reach the wide, flat summit area is both shorter and easier than the road to Walton Peak. A large trailer camper parked at the edge of the summit (a fantastic view spot) is evidence that almost any vehicle can drive to the top of this one.

Peak 9,728ft

Located on the north side of US40 and west of the divide, this unnamed summit can be most easily access from the east via FR296. The road is rough, suitable only for high-clearance, but it gets one within half a mile. From the road, it's a short cross-country hike through meadow and forest to reach the summit in 15min. A cross-country ski route is marked going through the area by blue diamonds tacked to the trees. We found a year-old register at the summit left by Steamboat resident Soren Jespersen, with two other entries before our arrival. No views from the summit.

Peak 7,825ft

This unnamed summit found outside the forest boundary in a private rural development. The signs aren't exactly welcoming as you drive the dirt road that starts at the edge of a condo development on the north side of US40. We drove up to the water tank that occupies the high ground, taking all of a minute to visit the highpoint in the trees. We got a laugh, noting that Brian Kalet (Mountain Climber on PB) had visited the summit 20 times over the past decade, a strange bit of stat-padding with this nothing of a summit...

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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Baker Mountain - Walton Peak - Rabbit Ears Peak

This page last updated: Tue Aug 31 12:54:53 2021
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