Fryingpan Drainage - Chapter 5

Upper Fryingpan Drainage -- Chap. 5 Section 3

14ers and 13ers...

 

Look no farther than the upper Fryingpan drainage for some of the best high routes in Colorado. The Continental Divide lofts to 14,000 feet in this area, while vast regions of "white sierra" reach above timberline for hundreds of square miles. This is treated as a separate section because the routes may be equally accessible from Independence Pass (see chapter 9). For Upper Fryingpan trailheads, use information from our from our Fryingpan North section. See bottom of this page for maps.

Route 5.3.1 Fryingpan drainage to Fryingpan Lakes

Climb rating: Easy skins Ski rating: Intermediate, S2- Recommended seasons: Late winter or spring Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 11,000 feet Elevation gain: 1,000 feet Round trip distance: 8 miles Day trip? Yes Maps: Souther Fryingpan, North and South Photo:

While This is primarily an access route this tour is but makes an interesting tour for beginners. While this route can be done in winter, it's more fun when Road 505 has been plowed to the spring trailhead, and is described here as such (see section 2 introduction for road information). The summer trail from the end of Road 505 starts at a footbridge, but with snowcover it's better to stay on the east side of the creek. A series of clearings lead you up the first part of the route. Once through those, pass through a bit of timber into open valley terrain with obvious ski routes leading to Fryingpan Lakes. Return via your ascent route, or continue to higher ground via other routes described here and in Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners.

Route 5.3.2 Fryingpan drainage to Lake Creek

Climb rating: Harder skins Ski rating: S3+ Recommended seasons: Spring Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 12,460 feet Elevation gain: 2,460 feet Trip distance: 10 ½ miles Day trip? Yes Maps: Southern Fryingpan, North and South Photo:

This is a huge tour that covers a stunning part of the Sawatch Mountains, including the lofty Continental Divide. Start at Road 505 spring trailhead (see section introduction), and be sure Independence Pass Road (Highway 82) is open. Use route 5.3.1 to reach Fryingpan Lakes, then continue up the alpine reaches of the drainage to the pass at the end of the valley (12,460 feet). Drop S to Divide Lake, then head down the North Fork of Lake Creek 3 ½ miles to Highway 82 (Independence Pass Road). Have a ride arranged.

Route 5.3.3 North Mount Massive from Fryingpan

Climb rating: Harder skins, Advanced snow climb Ski rating: S4 Recommended seasons: Spring Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 14,370 feet Elevation gain: 4,370 feet Roundtrip distance: 12 miles Day trip? Yes Map: Southern Fryingpan, South Photo:

One of Colorado's 54 stupendous fourteen thousand foot peaks, North Mount Massive is located on a long ridge studded with 14,000' bumps. The true summit is flanked by two bumps that qualify as peaks, one of which is North Mount Massive.

The route starts from 10,890 feet in the Fryingpan drainage, leaving from the Road 505 Trailhead. For details, refer to the map in this book, and to Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners.

Route 5.3.4 Mount Oklahoma-North Cirque

Climb rating: Harder skins, Advanced snow climb Ski rating: S4 Recommended seasons: Spring snow season Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 13,845 feet Elevation gain: 3,845 feet Round trip distance: 12 miles Day trip? Yes, or high camp Maps: Southern Fryingpan, North and South Photo: [see collection]

This curving cirque is a classic line, and it nails the 85th highest peak in Colorado! Leave from the Road 505 Trailhead in spring after the road has been plowed. Get an early start, and tour to Fryingpan Lakes via route 5.3.1. Continue past the upper lake a few hundred yards, then start an aggressive climb E out of the valley into an obvious side drainage. Climb E to about 12,400 feet, then continue up the drainage as it becomes an unusually shaped feature that curves S, then leads to the summit. Descend your ascent route. Consider using a high camp near Fryingpan Lakes. The probable first descent of this route was done by me and Mike Benge in spring of 1994.

Route 5.3.5 Mount Oklahoma-West Face

Climb rating: Harder skins, Advanced snow climb Ski rating: Extreme, S4+ Recommended seasons: Spring snow season Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 13,845 feet Elevation gain: 3,845 feet Round trip distance: 12 miles Day trip? Yes, or high camp Maps: Southern Fryingpan, North and South Photo:

Use this route for the most straightforward line to Mount Oklahoma's summit (see route 5.3.5). Start at the Road 505 Trailhead after the road has been plowed in spring. Head up the valley to Fryingpan Lakes, then continue about ½ mile above the upper lake. Here you'll notice an obvious terrain tongue that leads up E out of the valley to Mount Oklahoma's west face. Start with skins, but be ready to switch to crampons; the route gets relentlessly steeper as you near the summit. Descend your ascent route, or if the upper section is too scary , descend the N cirque (route 5.3.4).

Route 5.3.6 Deer Mountain-Northeast Ridge

Climb rating: Harder skins, Advanced snow climb Ski rating: Advanced, S4 Recommended seasons: Spring Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 13,761 feet Elevation gain: 3,761 feet Round trip distance: 14 miles Day trip? Yes, or use high camp Maps: Southern Fryingpan, North and South Photo: [in collection]

Deer Mountain has to be one of the most beautiful mountains on the Continental Divide. It's a classic glacial peak, with three arete ridges and a north face strung with lusty couloirs. The peak's northeast ridge is one of the most skiable aretes on the high peaks. It's one of those descents that seems to float you above the land-as close to flying as you can get without an aircraft. The best way to reach this route might be from North Halfmoon Creek (see Dawson's Guide to Colorado's Fourteeners). Nonetheless, it's also logical to work from the Fryingpan side, probably from a high camp.

Follow the Fryingpan drain to a low-angled area at 11,550 feet, just before the valley gets steeper. Leave the valley here and head E and SE up a major cirque. Climb to the ridge at the head of the cirque, then follow the ridge SW to the summit of Deer Mountain. Descend your ascent route, with variations you eyed on the way up. If you have time, the terrain in this area holds interesting secrets. For example, head S and SE off the ridge for the treasures of North Halfmoon Creek, but make sure you've got your return route figured.

Route 5.3.7 Deer Mountain-North Face

Climb rating: Harder skins, Advanced snow climb Ski rating: Extreme, S5- Recommended seasons: Spring snow season Starting elevation: 10,000 feet Summit elevation: 13,761 feet Elevation gain: 3,761 feet Round trip distance: 14 miles Day trip? Yes, or use high camp Maps: Southern Fryingpan, North and South Photo: [in collection]

Do routes such as the Sellar Peaks traverse (5.2.6) and you'll catch views of a huge peak rising in the distant south, with a series of stripe-like couloirs dropping from a sky-scraping summit. This is Deer Mountain, and you're being tempted by the North Face.

There are two ways to ski this route. The simplest but longest is to use the Fryingpan Drainage, which is described here. You can also do this route from Independence Pass Road (Highway 82) by heading up to Divide Lake and climbing Deer's northwest ridge (route 9.2.12). For the Fryingpan method, simply follow the upper Fryingpan drain (route 5.3.7) to Deer Mountain's north face, which looms ahead of you almost the whole way up the valley. Pick a couloir and enjoy. The one leading somewhat directly to the summit, but a bit to climber's left, is a good choice. Use a high camp if possible, and only ski this route on compacted spring snow.

 

Map below (Southern Fryingpan, South Half) is a Flash file and may not display on some devices. If not, perhaps you can use our PDF version.

 

Map below (Southern Fryingpan, North Half) is a Flash file and may not display on some devices. If not, perhaps you can use our PDF version.