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  • Writer's pictureJoanna Lee

A Whole Lotta Front Range Climbs

Updated: May 12, 2023

March 4, 2020

Mt. Flora (13,132 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Berthoud Pass)

5.7 miles; 1648 feet elevation gain

Total time: 2 hours 41 minutes


This was our second attempt at Mount Flora (see 2019 post). It was a relatively (a very subjective term!) calm day for the first 2 miles. But as expected, once we rounded the side of the mountain and began the direct part of the ascent, the wind hit us hard. This was our first attempt at a winter summit. We expected cold and windy but weren't mentally prepared for this. Thankfully we were physically prepared with the right gear so we continued up to the summit. The only gear item that we did not have that we added to our packs after this were ski googles, a must have for winter summit attempts. We didn't need snowshoes at all, the snow was very windblown and shallow but spikes were very helpful.



 

March 11, 2020

Mt. Cupid (13,117 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Loveland Pass)

3.6 miles; 1647 feet elevation gain

Total time: 1 hours 55 minutes


It was your usual blustery winter day on Loveland Pass. We learned our lesson from last week and brought ski googles this time, thankfully! It was a stunning day with clear blue skies and we had the mountain to ourselves. This is a relatively easy and quick climb. The wind was brutal but we pushed through to the summit where we didn't hang out for too long. If you're looking to try a winter summit, I think this is a great one to start with. However, still do your research and be prepared; winter summits are a whole different ball game with a lot more variables and risks.



 

April 3, 2020

James Peak*

Route: Alltrails (from St. Mary's Glacier)

6.0 miles; 1797 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 21 minutes

*did not summit


A bluebird day and a Friday off work. We got a late start, around 9 am, after waiting for the temperature to increase a little. Based on recent reviews we weren't sure if it would be safe to summit so we went in with no expectations other than it being a beautiful day for a hike. The snow was well packed and we barely post holed. On the ascent we heard a man skiing off trail who was stuck and hurt, luckily someone had already called SAR, but a scary reminder to be safe and responsible in the back country. Other than that we didn't see anyone all day. When we reached the last of the flat, open portion before the final mile of ascent we stopped for a lunch break and decided to call it a day. While the snow may have been safe we didn't have enough experience at this point to make this call. The wind was also picking up and we had tired legs, so we turned back while we were still warm and happy! Overall a beautiful bluebird day with no wind, that is a win for April.



 

April 8, 2020

Mt. Sniktau*

Route: Alltrails (from Loveland Pass)

2.89 miles; 1198 feet elevation gain

Total time: 1 hour 30 minutes

*did not summit


A typical April day on Loveland pass, very windy! It wasn't continuous but when the big gusts came they came hard. We were the only ones up there, probably for good reasons. We made it to the false summit and could barely stand up, so we bailed. The cornices along the edges and spanning the whole ridge to the summit were pretty intense and a little nerve wracking with dogs. We decided we would wait a little bit before attempting again since we would be hiking with the dogs again.



 

May 11, 2020

Boulder Skyline Traverse

South Boulder Peak (8549 feet), Bear Peak (8459 feet), Green Mountain (8150 feet), Flagstaff Mountain (6983 feet), Mount Sanitas (6843 feet)

17 miles; 5723 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 50 minutes


Happy Birthday to me. What a (crazy) way to spend my birthday during COVID; trail running the five highest peaks in Boulder. While these mountains are not 13ers/14ers, I felt like it deserved a mention because it was an undertaking. We were training for the Leadville Heavy Half which got cancelled a few weeks before this so we decided this would be our personal challenge. This is certainly not an easy undertaking and we unfortunately got very unlucky with the weather. We endured snow, rain, high winds and finally sunshine; but did not see many views! We felt great until Mount Sanitas; the final peak on tired legs was brutal and felt never ending, I might never do this peak again because I am so scarred. It was a great accomplishment to run this traverse!



 

June 4, 2020

Mt. Sniktau (13,234 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Loveland Pass)

3.77 miles; 1515 feet elevation gain

Total time: 1 hour 55 minutes


Back for take two, this time with a lot less wind and a lot less snow. The conditions were great, literally not a breath of wind at the summit. With better conditions, this is another great beginner summit. It is very straightforward and not technical. While the initial incline is brutal, it eases off after that and is a moderate hike.



 

June 27, 2020

Mt. Edwards & McClellan Mountain (13,850 feet & 13,587 feet)

Route: 14ers.com route (from Waldorf Mine - East Slopes)

4.87 miles; 2442 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 27 minutes


We spent the weekend camping on Leavenworth Creek Road. We drove the short distance from the campsite to Waldorf Mine and started from there. There isn't a trail for any of this hike but it is wide open and you can see where you're heading, but having a .gpx file downloaded was very helpful. There were still a couple of snow fields but they were avoidable. This hike is a lot of incline in a short distance, mostly in the first ascent which is very steep and straight up. We only saw one other group the whole hike but we did look over to Grays and Torreys and see the weekend crowds making their way up the mountain. We got stunning views of the many iconic peaks, for 360 degrees, while avoiding the crowds, we were very happy and maybe a little smug.



 

July 15, 2020

Old Baldy (13,038 feet)

9.2 miles; 2929 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 17 minutes


We arrived at the trailhead around 5:30 am and we were one of the first people to start hiking. This hike is absolutely stunning the whole way. The incline is very gradual the entire time, strenuous but nothing technical or challenging. There is no trail for the last section to the summit but it is easy to see where you are heading. You can also add S. Arapaho Peak to get another 13er in the same hike. On the way down it was fairly busy for the last 2-3 miles and the parking lot was completely full when we finished, definitely recommend starting early!



 

July 18, 2020

Ruby Mountain A* (13,038 feet)

Route: 14ers.com route (East Ridge)

4.39 miles; 1872 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 6 minutes


We spent the weekend camping on Chihuahua Gulch nearby and made the short drive to the trailhead in the morning. The trailhead was full when we arrived at 8 am but everyone was heading to the more popular peaks. While we knew this was a difficult class two, the lack of recent trail reports and reviews left us a little unprepared. There is no trail at all and a lot of scree to navigate. It felt like every step we took upwards slid us two steps backwards. Nyx was a young puppy at the time and it was definitely more than we bargained for, even though she did amazing. We made it to 12,885 feet where we decided to hang out and enjoy the stunning views before turning around. The last little climb before the ridge is definitely difficult class two but doesn't exceed that. We didn't see a single person until we got back to the trailhead.



 

July 29, 2020

James Peak (13,301 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Loch Lomand)

5.1 miles; 2058 feet elevation gain

Total time: 2 hours 55 minutes


We camped the night before at Loch Lomand. I would not recommend driving all the way to the lake without a high clearance 4WD vehicle, but it does cut off a few miles each way if you are able to. We arrived to a storm rolling in, so we hid from the rain in the car and watched the crazy clouds roll over us. We planned to do this as a sunrise summit but when we woke up at 4 am the wind was so loud and shaking the car. We went back to bed for an hour hoping it would improve. It didn't, but luckily the wind at the lake was much worse than the it was higher up. The trail starts on the far side of Loch Lomand and follows a path up through the brush. We ran into a moose on the trail about half way up, cue a morning panic attack. Thankfully the dogs were on leashes and the moose ran away. The sun came over the horizon as we reached about 11,500 feet and it was absolutely beautiful. The rest of the way up is straight forward and a clear path. We were the second group to summit and only saw a couple of other groups on the descent.



 

August 26, 2020

Mt. Cupid & Grizzly Peak D (13,117 feet & 13,427 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Loveland Pass)

6 miles; 2334 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 41 minutes


We started with the goal of being on top of Mt. Cupid for sunrise but we surprised ourselves with a fast paced start and were on the saddle to Grizzly Peak when the sun came over the horizon. This is a pretty hike with 360 degree views and isn't very technical. However, it is a killer on the legs because of the amount of elevation drop between the two peaks, which you do twice. So, while it is isn't a challenging hike in many ways, it is in others! We were the first to summit and only saw a few other people on our descent.



 

September 2, 2020

Square Top Mountain A (13,794 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Guanella Pass)

7.18 miles; 2537 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 50 minutes


We arrived at the trailhead around 5 am. There was one other car in the lot when we started and we saw this group about a mile from the summit. The first 2 miles are a breeze, but after that you head straight up for about a mile. The elevation gain in this mile is intense and brutal. Once you reach the false summit you don't have much more climbing to do, just a nice walk along the top! This is a very straightforward hike with a trail the entire way and amazing views in every direction. A great beginner summit! If you want to add another ~1 mile you can go to the upper lake as well which is beautiful.



 

September 16, 2020

Mt. Parnassus (13,579 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Watrous Gulch)

7.26 miles; 3308 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 8 minutes


This was our favorite summit in 2019 and we always planned to repeat it in 2020. Well let me tell you, it was not our favorite this year. The wind was brutal, it was much colder than expected, the smoke from the fires was heavy and it was just a tough day for me in general. We layered up and pushed through, but it wasn't pretty or fast. But we made it to the summit for the second time. The scenery and views were very different to last year, there was no wild flowers left and there was already some snow on the surrounding peaks. We had initially considered heading over to Woods Peak if we were feeling good, obviously we were not so we scrapped that plan and headed down to the car. We did only see a few people the whole day and all in the last mile.



 

September 30, 2020

Red Mountain C (13,229 feet)

Route: Alltrails (from Pennsylvania Creek)

4.96 miles; 2369 feet elevation gain

Total time: 3 hours 10 minutes


We drove to the trailhead the morning of hiking and started around 6:30 am. The trailhead on alltrails is the end of a paved road, in the summer/early fall you can continue driving up the road if you have a 4WD/high clearance vehicle. It cut off about 2.5 miles of walking on the road. Despite what alltrails and 14ers.com says there is no trail at all. You cross over the creek and go through some brush, then find your way up through some dense trees. We were glad we had the .gpx file downloaded so we could at least make sure we were heading in the right direction. Once you’re above the treeline it is very open and easy to see your goal. The last 0.2 miles is rocky and a narrower ridge than the rest of the hike but nothing technical. We didn’t see a single person all day!



 

November 28, 2020

Mt Bierstadt*

9.25 miles; 2405 feet elevation gain

Total time: 4 hours 21 minutes

*did not summit


We saw a seemingly perfect early winter day in the forecast and decided to attempt this mountain that had been on our list for a while. We arrived at the trailhead at 7 am and were among a few groups to arrive at the same time. Keep in mind that in winter the road is closed at Naylor Lake which adds 3 miles total making it a longer day than in the summer. It is a relatively easy hike as far as elevation gain, it is gradual over time. We made it to about 1 mile from the summit when the wind picked up dramatically and the dogs got very cold so we turned around. From looking at the map it appears that the last mile is a lot steeper than the rest of the hike. We didn't summit this day but it was an absolutely beautiful day and a very enjoyable hike. We will definitely be back to conquer this mountain, probably before the road opens up to avoid the summer crowds.



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