A quick-hitting trip into one of Colorado's more inaccessible alpine basins
Gore Range // Eagles Nest Wilderness // Colorado
Peak C at sunset
It's not that the Gore Range is especially remote. In fact, it's not remote at all. Only 90 minutes from Denver, it's proximal to several major thoroughfares (I-70 and US Highway 9) and towns (Silverthorne, Kremmling, Vail). It has over a dozen trailheads from which maintained trails snake high into the Eagles Nest Wilderness Area that protects its core. Yet, its high eastern basins are notoriously difficult to access. A combination of private property, miles of trail-less beetle-killed forests, and technical granite ridge lines and escarpments essentially wall off the upper cirques of the Black Creek drainage from the casual venturer.
Alpenglow paints the forested flanks of the range
Summer flows on the upper reaches of the Piney River
Our objective was upper Black Creek basin which contains a series of reclusive alpine lakes and sits below the iconic and impressive "Ripsaw Ridge". From Kneeknocker Pass the basin yawns a bit, falling precipitously into a talus choked gully guarded by an overhanging cornice and steep snowfield that, depending on the year, can persist late into the summer season.
Down-climbing steep snow below Kneeknocker Pass
After navigating several challenging miles and thousands of vertical feet of steep, highly glaciated, talus chocked terrain we made it to our objective - a secluded bench at 11,250'. Being early July, the alpine vegetation was in the beginning stages of putting on its yearly show.
Lush alpine wetlands flush with sedges punctuate raw granite talus fields
Marsh marigold (Caltha leptosepala)
Alpine Laurel (Kalmia microphylla)
Alpine Lewisia (Lewisia pygmaea)
Featherleaf daisy (Erigeron pinnatisectus)
A distorted pano of upper Black Creek basin. Left to Right Peak D, Peak C, Mt. Powell, Dwarf Pyramid
The outlet of one of several large alpine lakes
Ripsaw Ridge at sunrise. Middle-left to right - Peak E, Peak D, Peak C, Mt. Powell
Difficult country to traverse
Donny admires Peak F catching early morning sun