Mountaineering – Teakettle Mountain (13,819 ft), Ouray, CO

Teakettle Mountain from Coffeepot
Teakettle Mountain from Coffeepot. The dark gash in the mountain is the Black Gully!

Clare and Potosi Peak
Climbergirl and Potosi Peak

Ever since climbing Mt. Sneffels, in July of 2013, I had a desire to climb the two centennial 13’ers flanking it. To the west of Sneffels, Dallas Peak stands guard while to the east, there’s Teakettle Mountain. Both captured my imagination and so I must climb them!

Bruce the Champion of Teakettle Mountain
Trip Leader, Bruce, on the summit of Teakettle Mountain

When I saw Bruce’s trip posted on the CMC website, I called him immediately. We had a pleasant conversation and we agreed to meet in a climbing gym, prior to the trip. The last section of Teakettle Mountain involves 5th class climbing; so it’s important people understand rope management, basic knots, safety, and climbing. Them gym meet-up went well, so the trip was on!

Trip Participants: Bruce (Leader), Tom, Frank, Meredith, Lisa, Helen, and I

Our Progress:
Leave Yankee Boy Basin TH: 5:10am
Base of Coffeepot: 7:40am
Base of Black Gully: 8:10am
Above Black Gully: 8:25am
Base of 5th Class Pitch: 9:10am
Start Climbing: 9:15am
Finish Climbing: 10:45am
Below Black Gully: 11:30am
Started Awful Scree Descent (We went down the direct route, not up/over Coffeepot ledge): 11:45am
Finished Awful Scree Descent: 12:40pm
Return Yankee Boy Basin TH: 1:30pm

Bruce Scrambles to Coffeepot
Bruce High Above Yankee Boy Basin

Lisa, Meredith, and Frank High Above Yankee Boy Basin
Lisa, Meredith, and Frank take a quick breather on the way up to the base of Coffeepot

Lisa Scrambling up to Coffeepot
Going up and down Teakettle Mountain was such a steep slog. The only way you could convince me to do it again, would be to do it in Spring. As a snow climb, it would probably be really fun.

Meredith and Coffeepot
Meredith, shining bright in a sea of grey. Coffeepot is the block of rock, high above her.

Coffeepot and Potosi Peak
Coffeepot and Potosi Peak. It took us 2.5 hours to reach this spot from the road below…it was a grueling ascent.

Tom and Frank Below Coffeepot
Frank and Tom in the San Juans! The view was incredible.

Helen Below Coffeepot
Helen arriving at the base of Coffeepot. She is really photogenic.

Lisa and Potosi
Lisa and Potosi Peak

After climbing to the base of Coffeepot, there is a climber’s trail leading northwest towards the black gully. It requires a bit of careful scrambling to traverse over to the black gully. However, by the time one gets here, one should be a pro at treading lightly!

Traversing to Teakettle's Black Gully
Here we are heading to the black gully.

Black Gully on Teakettle Mountain
This is the black gully. We went up as a group, but when we came down, we went 2 at a time. I saw a rock the size of 3 bowling balls come bouncing down after it was knocked loose by somebody on descent. So, be very careful both going up and coming down!

Teakettle Mountain From Top of Black Gully
One at the top of the black gully, you can finally see the summit block. It’s the furthest, highest peak from where I’m standing. To get there, we traversed below the cliff band, going over the patches of snow, until there was an obvious class 1/2 sandy gully leading upward. It was very easy to get to the summit block from here.

Mt. Sneffels and Yankee Boy Basin
The view of Sneffels, Emma, Dallas, and the Wilson group, from Teakettle Mountain!

Meredith Stepping Up to the Summit
Meredith Stepping up to the Summit of Teakettle. She has one more move from here, and she’ll be on top. She placed 3 pieces of pro. The first one was a small cam, like a yellow alien or metolius? The second one was a 0.75 cam. The third one was a #2 cam. None of the moves were hard, but a slip in the wrong place could be devastating.

Clare Belaying on Teakettle Mountain
Ever the happy belayer!

Meredith Ready to Descend Teakettle
Meredith getting the anchor ready for a top rope.

Since we had 5 more people who wanted to summit, we set up a top rope, just like a gym. That way, people could fly up, take their picture on the summit, and then be lowered down. Bruce did almost all of the belaying.

Frank Climbing to the Alcove on Teakettle
Frank at the start of the pitch. Bruce belaying, while Helen and Lisa encourage.

Frank Climbing Out of the Alcove on Teakettle
After a few moves on the face, you enter a small alcove. Here is Frank about 4 feet up the alcove.

You can climb a crack on the left of the alcove (nobody decided to go this way) or you can go around a pillar to the right of the alcove.

Frank Negotiating the Pillar on Teakettle
Frank exiting the alcove to the right. You can see the crack option, behind him.

Frank Enjoying His Success on Teakettle
Frank on the summit of Teakettle

Helen Enjoying the Climb on Teakettle
Here’s Helen making the last move.

Helen on Summit of Teakettle with Potosi Peak
Here’s Helen on the summit.

Tom Traversing on Teakettle Mountain
Tom climbing into the alcove. Now you can see why you want a rope…a slip and a fall in the wrong direction would be very bad!

Tom Conquers Teakettle Mountain
Tom on top of Teakettle Mountain, another totally photogenic person!

Lisa Busts a Move on Teakettle
Lisa reaching for the top!

Happy Times for Lisa on Teakettle Mountain
Lisa on the summit of Teakettle Mountain

Clare Relaxing on Teakettle Summit
Lisa was thoughtful and took this picture of me on the summit! Thanks!

Bruce About to Summit Teakettle
Bruce going for the summit of Teakettle! Psyched to see him get the peak. He drove all the way to Ouray twice, on scouting trips, as preparation for our trip. As a result of this hard work and preparation, the trip was excellent.

Clare and Mt. Sneffels from Summit of Teakettle
Homage to Mt. Sneffels!

Clare in the Handle of Teakettle Mountain
In the handle of Teakettle Mountain. I didn’t have time to do any crazy…I was the last one down off the climb, so I had to rush and get everything put away. I almost forgot to get this picture altogether, but I’m happy I remembered. The handle looks so neat!

Coffeepot from Black Gully of Teakettle
On the way down, I got this cool shot of Coffeepot.

Descending into the Wretched Scree from the Black Gully
The group scrambling over to our descent. We went directly down the scree. It was awful.

Our Route Down from Teakettle Mountain
The descent followed the ramp of loose rock.

Looking Back at Descent from Teakettle Mountain
Looking back up at our descent. Did I say this was awful, yet? It might be better with just a couple people, but with 7 people, it was SKETCHY!

Clare and Helen Celebrate Success on Teakettle
Helen and I, back at the trail head.

Clare and Meredith Apres Summit of Teakettle
Meredith and I, a few moments later.

I couldn’t muster everybody for a group picture as folks were rapidly de-shoeing, putting away their packs, etc. I think lunch was on the forefront of everybody’s mind. I was really excited that we all made the summit and that we lucked out with the weather. As soon as we pulled into Ouray, it started pouring!

Thank you again to Bruce, and to Lisa for joining Bruce on one of the scouting trips! It was a fabulous trip, definitely one of the highlights of the summer!

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