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Early summer in the Gores - July 2021

A quick-hitting trip into one of Colorado's more inaccessible alpine basins

Gore Range // Eagles Nest Wilderness // Colorado

Peak C in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, Gore Range, 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

Peak C

16 views2 comments


Nov 22, 2023

Spectacular country that's virtually inaccessable. Thanks for sharing some photos of an area I always wanted to get to but never did! Jay T


Donny O'Neill
Donny O'Neill
Jan 26, 2022

Stunning photos my dude.

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