Mountaineering – San Juan Peak Bagging Extravaganza, Day 2

Erin and Clare on Summit of Jones Mountain (13,860 ft)
All Smiles on Summit of Jones Mountain (13,860 ft). The Grenadier Mountains are behind us!

Jones Mountain Topo Map
Topo Map, with our approximate route.

Jones Mountain Elevation Profile
Elevation Profile, showing our gain of ~2,000 ft with a distance of 4.25 miles. We left high camp at 12,400 ft, hiked to the summit of Jones Peak, and then back to the truck at 11,400 ft.

Then, we moved the truck to the Grizzly Gulch Trailhead to secure our camping spot for that night. As it was a Friday, we wanted to get to Grizzly Gulch before the masses from grasslands arrived.

American Basin View From Tent
We left camp at 6:45am.

I was not feeling well and my knee was sore from the adventure yesterday. Erin was much more fresh, since she had opted out of the bonus peak.

I considered opting out today, but part of me worried about the lack of communication. There’s no way to have line of sight when basecamp is in American Basin and the other person is climbing Jones (or Niagara). So, since the radios wouldn’t help, I decided to just suck it up and go. Ibuprofen and some food went a long way to making me feel better!

We didn’t know it at the time, but we could have followed the grassy ramps above our camp straight up to the rock glacier above us.

Handies Peak from Base of American Ridge
Instead, we traversed to our left and clambered up the rock gully. Looking back down, after 15 minutes of exertion, I took this picture. The gully we took is seen in this picture, curving down and to the left.

Hiking up to the Notch on American Peak
Taken from the same spot as the last picture, here’s what it looked like going up! I was not at all excited about the next hour’s prospects. Gaining the ridge on American looked like it was going to suck.

And suck, it did! Maybe in the early summer, or late spring, it’s not so bad because one is climbing up snow and not all this talus!

American Peak From American Basin
In winter, there are a number of snow climbs up the couloirs of American Peak.

Gentle Notch on American Ridge
In snow, this would be a really nice and gentle climb, which is why Mr. Roach calls it a gentle notch.

But it’s not so gentle now! It started out benign, but gets more steep as one ascends.

Looking Down the Gentle Notch
At the steepest part, I was very fearful of falling and tumbling all the way down. Luckily, the dirt here is fairly solid when it’s dry. I would not advise going up this if it had rained or was wet. It is a landslide waiting to happen!

Clare at the Notch on American Ridge
Erin got a great picture of me, exuberant to have survived the ascent of the “gentle notch”.

Jones Peak from American Ridge Notch
Mr. Roach said the view of Jones Peak can be sobering. I must admit, I was wishing for a shot of Vodka at this moment…but then I realized that we’d be hiking around the backside of Jones. Whew!

After contouring the ridge of American for 20 minutes, we got to the saddle in between Jones and American Peak.

Erin On American Ridge
Here’s Erin, enjoying the sun, just above the saddle at 8:15am. Jones Mountain is behind her.

Jones Mountain Taken from North East
Jones is actually the peak in the background. There is a cairned trail for most of the way to the summit, once you reach the saddle (down below).

Erin Ascending Jones Mountain
Erin ascending Jones Mountain. You can see trails leading down to the saddle, on the slopes behind her.

The Vestal Group From Jones Mountain
About 2 hours into our hike, we see the Vestal Group of the Grenadiers. Neato!

Our Route Back to the Gentle Notch
The gentle notch is in the middle of the frame, in ochre and rust colored hues. Also, in the background are Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre!

Clare on Summit of Jones Mountain (13,860 ft)
After 1.8 miles, and just over 2 hours of hiking, we reach the summit of Jones Mountain!

Erin on Summit of Jones Mountain
Erin bags a Centennial! She’s not at all picky about her peaks…just as long as they’re fun! Jones Mountain was fun, we both agree. And we are both not looking forward to descending the “gentle notch”.

Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre from Jones Mountain
Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre from Jones Mountain. I’ve got to climb these peaks, they look awesome!

American Peak Ridge
Southwest View of American Peak. It looks awful!

We decided not to climb Niagara, or American Peak. The backside of American Peak looked like awful scree and choss. I’d rather do it as a snow climb, or from the south east (The Snare, maybe?).

American Peak Northwest Ridge
From the summit of Jones, it took us about an hour to get back to this spot. In about 10 minutes, we’d be back at the “gentle notch”.

Handies Peak from Northwest Ridge of American
Handies Peak, from the Northwest Ridge of American. Sloan’s Lake is peaking out from below.

American Basin from Northwest Ridge of American Peak
American Basin! Isn’t it amazing?

Back at the Gentle Notch on Northwest Ridge of American Peak
The Gentle Notch (13,200 ft). We will turn right and descend into American Basin, when we get there.

Boot Skiing Down American Ridge
Erin got this awesome picture of me boot skiing down the gentle notch. Yippeee!

At some point, we both spent time sliding on our bums as it was too steep to do standing up!

Erin at the Top of the Notch
Erin at the top of the Gentle Notch

Erin Causing Her Own Gravelanche
Erin surrounded by her own gravelanche!

Grassy Slopes on the Way to American Northwest Ridge
The Grassy Slopes we took on the way down that we should have taken on the way up! Lessons Learned!

One Last Look at American Basin
A parting shot of American Basin.

Preparing for Day 3 in the San Juans
We packed up camp and moved the truck to Grizzly Gulch trail head. Then, we celebrated big time with frosty beverages, more oreos, and other assorted junk foods. Preservatives, corn syrup, and yellow dye #2 never tasted so good!

What an exhilarating day! The not so “gentle notch”, the scrambling on Jones Mountain, the amazing views of the Grenadiers, Uncompaghre, and Wetterhorn, and fabulous weather.

Would we be blessed with a 3rd day of great weather?

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.