Mountaineering – Crystal Peak (13,852 ft) and Bonus 13ers

Zach Clutching the Spine of Father Dyer
Zach Clutching the Spine of Father Dyer

Smiles on Crystal Peak Summit
Zach, Beth, and Clare on Crystal Peak

Crystal Peak and Peak 10
Crystal Peak and Peak 10, taken from Father Dyer

Father Dyer, Crystal, and Peak 10 Topo Map with Waypoints
Our loop hike of Crystal Peak Cirque

In the Colorado Scrambles book, Mr. Cooper touts the climb of Father Dyer as, “a good introduction to the “art” of scrambling, offering some exposed but not sustained climbing and even a bit of loose rock to initiate the budding scrambler.”.

The climb of Father Dyer’s East Ridge sounded like a super fun way to climb Crystal Peak; a Centennial 13er just waiting to be ticked off our lists. Beth’s brother, Zach, is quickly building his scrambling repertoire, so this was a great route for honing his skills. By throwing in Peak 10 (13,633 ft), the #178 ranked Bicentennial as a bonus, we expanded the size of our loop hike and had a real feeling of accomplishment by completing the cirque.

I met up with Beth and Zach, at oh-dark-thirty, on the outskirts of Denver. I drove as this dynamic duo regaled me with stories of past hikes and adventures. What a fun way to start the day! We stopped for coffee in Frisco and before too long we were bouncing and jostling our way up Spruce Creek Road.

With some encouragement and guidance by Beth, we were able to make it all the way to where the 4wd section starts. It was a rough road, with a few avoidable deeply rutted spots. We left the car at 7am. I could see my breath and the sky was crystal clear.

Wheeler Trail Signage
In this case, Mr. Cooper’s directions were spot on; we found the trail on the left of the road, about 10 minutes after leaving the trail head.

Father Dyer, Crystal Peak, and Peak 10
After walking for about 45 minutes, we were treated to a lovely view of the Crystal Creek Basin. In this panorama, are Father Dyer, Crystal Peak, and Peak 10.

Crystal Creek Basin
1 hour 15 minutes into our hike, we were making our way to the ridge of Father Dyer Peak. This is looking back into Crystal Creek Basin.

Gaining the East Ridge of Father Dyer
Taken from the same spot as the last picture, just looking at our way forward. In gaining the East ridge of Father Dyer, just aim for the grassy spots in between the boulders and go up. The ridge becomes more obvious as you climb higher up slope.

East Ridge of Father Dyer Peak
Fifteen minutes after the last picture, we can now see the ridge!

The ridge starts out really mellow and as you climb, it narrows. Finally, you are walking on what looks like the scales on the back of a Stegosaurus. Most of the rock is solid, but it’s definitely a good idea to test the holds prior to weighting them!

Scrambling Siblings on Father Dyer Peak
After what I consider the crux of the route, I turned around and got this picture of Beth and Zach. Notice the smile on Beth’s face…yeah…it…really…is…that….fun!

View of Father Dyer, Pacific and Crystal Peaks
After the crux, the scrambling eases up until you see the summit up ahead. In this picture, Father Dyer’s true summit is up ahead and you can see the long traverse over to Crystal Peak. In the background, is the iconic triangle top of Pacific Peak!

Quandary, Fletcher, and Pacific Peak
I can’t help but throw this one in here…a panorama of the Tenmile Range. So many Peaks! Quandary, North Star, Fletcher, Drift, Father Dyer, Pacific, Atlantic, and the side of Crystal.

Group Picture on Father Dyer Peak
After 2.5 hours of hiking, we make it to the summit of Father Dyer Peak!

Climbergirl on Crystal Peak
One hour later, I have arrived at the summit of Crystal Peak. What a great day!

Quandary and Pacific Peak
Quandary and Pacific Peak from the summit of Crystal Peak

Thumbs up for Peak 10 Summit
Another hour later and we were on the top of Peak 10. It took us 4.5 hours to get to Peak 10 from the Spruce Creek Trail Head. Since it was the last peak on our list for the day, it was now time to head back to the car.

Crystal Creek Basin from Peak 10
From the summit of Peak 10, it took us about an hour to get to the Wheeler trail. The descent from Peak 10 was a bit longer than what I was expecting!

We got back to the Subi at 1:30pm, after 6.5 hours of hiking. We had a fantastic time in this part of the Tenmile range and thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of Father Dyer.

Driving the Subi back down the Spruce Creek Road was actually more challenging than going up. By the midday, the myriad of SUVs whose drivers could not muster up the courage to make it to the official trail head, had left their vehicles scattered over Spruce Creek Road! In order to avoid the ruts, I could no longer take the easiest or safest line…as I now had to also avoid hitting these parked cars.

I was surprised to see several fully loaded jeeps parked way down at the bottom of the road! For Shame! Somehow, against all odds and again with Beth’s help, we made it back to the highway unscathed and the car in tact. Whew!

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