Mt. Ouray P2K

Fri, Jul 24, 2020

With: Tom Becht
Eric Smith

Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile

Continued...

A rest day. Mt. Ouray lies in the southern part of the Sawatch Range in Central Colorado. It comes up less than 30ft short of the 14,000-foot level but has more than 2,600ft of prominence. With a poor weather forecast in the cards, we picked it as an easy summit that we could finish well before noon, about 3,200ft of gain and 5.5mi roundtrip. We parked at a public use cabin off Marshall Pass Rd, an old toll road going over the Continental Divide. An unsigned trail heads uphill through the forest, eventually petering out above treeline. From there, we followed the ridgeline north along the Continental Divide in a wide arc to Pt. 12,685ft. A use trail can be followed for most of the way to the summit, picking its way around rock outcrops and through the rock and talus that covers much of the ridgeline. From Pt. 12,685ft the route turns east and northeast, a rolling, gentle gradient at first, then growing steep as it makes its way up to the summit. This stretch all the way to the summit was done in the clouds with nary a view to be had. Cold and wind drove us to put on more clothes. We got to the summit in a bit over two hours, just as a few raindrops came whipping across the ridgeline. Eric passed out some summit chocolate which we greedily consumed while digging in our packs for raingear. Tom, wearing only shorts, declared, "I have no pants!", his way of saying "Let's go down!" After he repeated it a second time, I looked over at him with little sympathy, declaring, "You say that like it's our fault." I told him he could take off if he liked, and apparently he did like because he was gone in a flash. Eric and I wouldn't see him again until we got back to the jeep. Eric, a bit slow on the downhills and a little unsure about navigating back through the clouds, got me to escort him down at an easy pace. The rain never really developed and we got some fleeting views on our way down to Pt. 12,685ft that we hadn't gotten earlier. Eric spied an elk herd about 1,000ft lower in the bowl on the north side of the ridge. It was a good-sized one, more than 50 strong. We asked Tom later if he had seen them, but no, he'd been too focused on getting out of the cold and missed them. The clouds never cleared, but we were able to get views south and west as we descended from Pt. 12,685ft, shortcutting our ascent route with a pleasant descent down a steep grassy slope to return to the good trail. We found Tom sitting on a log next to the jeep, having beaten us down by 30min. It wasn't yet 10:30a when we finished up, but time to call it a day. 80% chance of afternoon thunderstorms had us looking for alternative activities. After returning to US285, we headed south for about an hour through the vast San Luis Valley to the town of Alamosa where we had a pleasant outdoor pizza lunch and ran a few errands in town. Afterwards we had more driving to get us to our campsite outside the Cielo Vista Ranch for our hike of Culebra the next day...

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