Silver Mountain P300

Jul 28, 2017

With: Eric Smith

Etymology Story Photos / Slideshow Map GPX Profile


Silver Mountain is a CO 13er that lies on the ridgeline separating Telluride to the north from Ophir to the south. This was a bit of a grudge match for an outing I'd done two years earlier that failed to reach the summit. Snow blocked the obvious route up from the northeast side and I had been unprepared with proper gear to tackle it. This time I had brought crampons and axe for what I expected to be similar conditions, only to find the snow was partially melted out and the gear would go unused. Having had enough from the previous day's adventure, Steve opted to stay in Telluride while Eric, Leroy and I rode the gondola to the top of Coonskin Mtn where we disembarked to start the hike. We followed the See Forever Trail (mostly a cattrack along a ridge in the Telluride ski area) for several miles before descending the Wasatch Connector Trail that joins the popular Wasatch Trail in the upper reaches of Bear Creek Canyon. I enticed Eric to join me for a short distance further up into Lena Basin - "Don't you want to see how beautiful the basin up there is?" - but his sense of reason evetually took control and they let me finish the exploration on my own. Eric had to hold Leroy for a short while as I continued on, Leroy not understanding why our happy party was splitting up and somewhat sad to see me go. Still, given a choice between more adventuring with Bob or staying with his trusted master, I lose every time.

Lena Basin really is a delightful place to visit, a lush alpine green with abundant wildflowers, old prospects to explore and towering peaks on three sides. The weather today had been mostly overcast from the start, leaving little room for views as the clouds crowded the higher peaks while threatening precipitation. As I reached the upper stretches of Lena Basin I could see the snow chute mostly melted out, talus taking the place of the snow from two years ago. The slope was not too steep nor terribly loose, making the ascent fairly tame. I reached the talus-strewn summit around 11:30a, about 3.5hrs after starting out. A CMC register was found here, the only dry one I would find on this CO visit. I had considered attempting the traverse north to Palmyra Peak along the interesting-looking limestone ridgeline that connects the two with knife-edges and other challenges, but the weather convinced me otherwise. There did not seem to be any escape routes until the other summit is reached and I didn't want to be somewhere in the middle if the skies decided to let loose.

I returned back down the same ascent route, taking about an hour to leisurely cruise through Lena's flower gardens to reach the Wasatch Trail. From there it would take another hour and a half to descend the trail along Bear Creek back to Telluride, the route growing ever more popular the closer I got to town. The weather managed to hold out for the entire outing, saving me the trouble of digging out my rain gear. It would be after 2p by the time I crossed over the San Miguel River to reach town (nice civilized bridges here, no log crossings or wading across the river). Not a particularly difficult outing, but enough to work up an appetite. Now, what time is the half-priced sushi at Cosmos?...


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