Trinchera Peak – 13,517


RT Length: 10.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 3741’

I changed my mind several times before setting off on this hike. This is not the peak I’d wanted to do today, but after some last minute research I realized the one I really wanted to hike isn’t achievable this time of year.  So I was bummed, but also glad I hadn’t attempted the peak just to have to turn back (that’s happened to me too many times this year as it is).

I arrived at the winter closure at 4am, surprised to find there was a winter closure? I was under the impression the winter closure was the Blue Lakes Campground, but here I was, faced with a locked gate 2 miles from the lake.  Oh well, this was supposed to be a short hike, so I welcomed the added mileage.


I parked at the picnic area and was the only one there when I arrived. I’m not sure this area gets much winter use.


The dirt road up to the campground is a well maintained 2WD road. It was clear of snow in places and covered in a few feet of snow in others.  It’s going to be a while before the FSR 422 road is opened this year.


Once I made it to the campground the snow coverage really picked up. Now the tricky part was trying to find the trail in the dark.


I’m sure this is a well maintained trail in the summertime, but it didn’t look like anyone had been out here in months, and certainly not since the last snow. At times the trail was obvious because there was a clear path through the trees, but most of the time I had to just keep heading southwest up towards treeline, making my own trench.   There seemed to be several switchbacks.


Once at treeline the rest of the route became obvious. I found a path between the trees


And then gained the ridge and followed it up


I took a shadowselfie because I could, and turned and watched the sun rise over West Spanish Peak


Once on the ridge I started to get worried. What I thought was going to be a very easy hike now included an unforeseen obstacle:  a HUGE cornice covering the entire summit.   At least it looked stable.


The closer I got the larger the cornice became


I tried my best to find a route up that didn’t include the cornice, but that just wasn’t going to happen, so I aimed for the route with the least amount of danger. Sticking to the left I thought I could avoid most of the cornice and climb straight up a wall of ice.  Here’s the route I took


The snow kept getting steeper and steeper, and the last 50 feet or so I continually used my ice axe and wished for my helmet. I just kept looking ahead and plugged in my ice axe, repositioned myself for stability, and hauled myself up.  The last 10 feet were brutal, but I was able to hoist myself up over the lip of the cornice and found I was on a lot of solid snow with a windblown summit just beyond.


I summited at 7:30am. I tried not to get too excited about what I’d just done as I took a few pictures



I’d intended on summiting a few other 13ers today (Leaning South Peak, Leaning North Peak, and possibly Cuatro) but the extra miles I hadn’t expected from the winter closure meant I was behind schedule and unfortunately, the snow was warming up. As I was debating go or no-go I looked for a good route towards the other 13ers, but all I could see were cornices blocking my way down.  Hmph.  Oh well, I’ll just have to make another trip out here:  In the summer when there aren’t any cornices.


Oh yeah, I still had to get down this cornice. I took a look over the edge…


Wow, that was steep! Here’s a look at the route from the summit back to treeline


I turned to face the cornice to head back and immediately realized snowshoes weren’t going to cut it on the way down. They’d been great for stability on the way up, but they would be in the way on the way down.  I switched to crampons and was immediately pleased with my choice.  OK, now to head down.  The first 50 feet or so were harrowing to say the least.  Wearing snowshoes on firm snow I hadn’t made steps on the way up but they were needed on the way down.  So I spent a lot of time kicking in steps, balancing, and slowly making my way down off the slab of ice.  I stopped when I felt safe and took a picture.  The steepest part is circled


I was thrilled when the crampons were no longer needed and switched back into my snowshoes. I took a second to breathe and looked back at what I’d just done.  Wow!  Yes, much, much steeper than this picture makes it look. That had been an adrenaline rush!


Here’s the route back down to the trees


The snow was quickly becoming soft and was fun to walk though. I was very, very glad I’d chosen to head back and not summit those other 13ers:  it was warming up fast!



Here’s a look back on the final push



As I hiked down I couldn’t help but think how this looked like a great mountain to ski, yet it was obvious no one had been here to do so in quite a while. There was continuous snow from the summit to treeline and honestly, all the way back to the campground. It seemed a shame no one was out here enjoying the skiable terrain.


I followed my tracks back to the “trail”


And through the forest


I made it back to my truck at 10am, making this a 10.5 mile hike in 6 hours.


Today was fantastic! All I can say is this peak needs more attention!  It was a beautiful day, which helped, but when I made it back to my truck I didn’t feel exhausted or even tired or sore.  The ice axe and crampon use had been a fun surprise, and the 10.5 miles had spread out the elevation gain nicely so I didn’t feel it much.  It’s a shame this peak doesn’t get visited more often.  If it’s on your list, you should move Trinchera to the top!



Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

3 thoughts on “Trinchera Peak – 13,517”

  1. Thank You Lady Laura and Wild Wanderer.You always seem to find enjoyment in some of what I may consider rough going.You have and amazing life style which captures the imagination .But then again, You don’t imagine it,You do it.I’m always impressed at the relive video and the stats of Your summiting,


  2. It’s a rarity lately to actually see You without a face mask in wind swept mountains. I often wonder if You may have said to Yourself,I’m going to just stay home with a hot bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.But that’s not really You. Your and adventurer If You get time in Your hectic days,please listen to a song by Garth Brooks called (Mom) on U tube
    .You won’t be sorry. Thank You Miss Lady Laura for the guided tour.


  3. Thank You for unknowingly gifting this climb on my birthday.I would have felt terrible If You have hurt Yourself.I know You didn’t gift this climb to me,but I can wish that You May have.I hope You gift Your climbs to those nearest and dearest to Your heart. Please be careful as You resume Your dreams. God Love You.


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