Nipple Peak P1K
Peak 9,595ft P300
Peak 9,761ft P300
Peak 10,252ft P900

Mon, Aug 22, 2022

With: Eric Smith
Ingrid Dockersmith
Christian Giardina

Nipple Peak
Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Today's effort was centered around Nipple Peak, a P1K in the north part of Routt County, about an hour's drive north of Steamboat Springs where we were staying. The only trip report available was found on LoJ, making it sound like a difficult summit with several "no fall zones" and a tricky summit block. We decided to carry a short rope and a couple of harnesses, but none of this would prove necessary. We drove in two vehicles because Christian would have to leave early to attend to work. We drove Forest Route 487 off SR129 north of Hahns Peak Village, stopping when a gate was encountered at the end. It wasn't yet 6:30a when we started out on foot.

We followed the continuing road for about 40min before starting up forested slopes heading north. It's some rough country with lots of downfall and fairly slow going - it would take us about an hour to cover about a mile of this hilly terrain. While Ingrid and Christian took a line to the west around Pt. 9,794ft, Eric and I unintentionally went up and over this minor bump, the four of us regrouping at a saddle to the north. To taunt his sister, Eric sang the praises of the point and told her she should visit it since he planned to add it to the PB database. I thought he was joking, but later that afternoon it appeared as Belly Mtn on the PB database. I responded with a short but unflattering TR on the same site, but I don't think it will discourage him in the future.

It was shortly after 8a when we got to the rocky base of Nipple Peak. Some class 2-3 talus scrambling leads to the summit ridge, while some class 3 scrambling on somewhat loose granite blocks leads to the summit pinnacle. The pinnacle isn't very high, about 8-10ft, and there is a lower block on its west side that can be used to make reaching the top no more than class 3. We all paid a visit to the summit block, in turn. The summit reaches well above the trees, leaving views open in all directions. A busy register was found at the base of the summit block. It was placed in 1991 by Mike Garratt who also registered the 2nd and 3rd entries. We hung about the summit area for about 20min before starting our descent.

We descended back to the south through the heavy downfall, using an alternate route that proved no better than our ascent. There was so much to go around that we often took varying paths and were often out of view of each other. We regrouped again after an hour when we reached the old road we'd started on. We turned right at a junction to head southwest towards our second summit, Peak 9,595ft. Christian decided he had enough time for this one if he hurried, so he took off ahead of us to get it done more quickly. The peak was nearby and pretty easy, taking only about 20min. Christian passed us on his way down, thinking he might even have time for the third peak, which we naturally encouraged him to pursue. Peak 9,595ft had an open summit with views north to Nipple Peak and south to Peak 10,252ft. Bob Martin had left a register in 1998, but not so many visitors as the previous peak - only a single page where we managed to squeeze our names in at the very bottom.

Our third summit, Peak 9,761ft would prove much harder than the previous one. The route between the two was less than a mile, but there's a great deal of downfall along the way. The saddle between the two offered a short respite where an old road crosses over it, but the downfall resumed as soon as we started up from the road. The stuff was stacked like Lincoln Logs in places and the going very slow. Christian reported later that he headed back after reaching the saddle - not enough time left in his morning to get this one done. Once on the summit ridge, the going got easier. We spent an hour and a quarter getting between the two summits, easily the slowest leg of the day. Bob Martin had left a register here, too, in 1998. Two pages sufficed to hold names for the past 24 years.

We still had one more summit on the agenda, Peak 10,252ft, half a mile further south. We would have to drop 300ft to a saddle, then a last climb of some 800ft to reach the summit. Even though the downfall relented and the going got easier, Eric decided he'd had enough of the shenanigans and would leave Ingrid and I when we reached the saddle. A good trail goes over the saddle and would lead east down to the road we had driven in on. I gave Eric the Jeep fob so that he could retrieve the Jeep and save Ingrid and I an extra mile of hiking on the road. We were happy to find the ascent of Peak 10,252ft went well enough, with some picturesque slopes painted bright yellow by mid-summer daisies growing tall on the open slopes. After Eric had left us at the saddle, we spent half an hour in reaching the mostly forested summit. A register had been left in 2020 by Alyson and John Kirk, who visited it on succeeding days. Our descent was a mix of flower slopes, forest cover, and the Prospector Trail that we picked up shortly below the saddle. The trail is open to motorcycles between July 1 and Oct 1, but we would have it to ourselves today. We followed the trail back down to the road where we found Eric and the Jeep both looking pretty relaxed. It wasn't yet 1:30p, but it was time to call it a day and head back to Steamboat...


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For more information see these SummitPost pages: Nipple Peak - Peak 10,252ft

This page last updated: Sun Sep 25 11:46:10 2022
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