RT Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3821’
There’s currently a curfew in place in Colorado Springs, so the beginning of the drive felt a bit ominous: I didn’t see any other vehicles on the road until I made it to the freeway, and even then there were very few vehicles compared to normal, even for 1am, and even when compared to being quarantined. I’d stopped for gas the day before so I didn’t need to stop at all this morning. With less people out I felt like I saw more wildlife: 4 foxes and a dozen or so elk. I made it to Winfield around 4am and decided to take the easy 4WD dirt road a little further, past the cemetery to some dispersed camping spots .85 of a mile from Winfield. You can park at Winfield and it won’t add more than 2 miles to this hike.
Looking at a topo map, I wanted to follow Grey Copper Creek to begin. After finding a dispersed parking spot I headed northwest in the dark, following game trails, zig-zagging in what felt like I was in a horror movie until I hit the creek. The creek was easy to find because there’s been a recent avalanche in the area. This also made the creek easy to follow (after initially climbing over some downed trees).
I crossed the creek and stayed on the west side, startling a porcupine as I went. There are new game trails starting here that parallel the creek.
There are a few ways to summit Mt Blaurock: You can follow the creek until it ends and continue climbing until you make it to the Blaurock/Ervin saddle, or gain the south ridge and follow that route. There was still some snow in the gully so I decided to take the south ridge route.
There is no special point to gain the south ridge. I turned and headed west after a little over a mile of hiking, aiming for the ridge
From treeline it was easy to see the route, following the ridge northeast
The first part of the ridge is an easy stroll on tundra
Once the tundra ended the loose rock began and didn’t quit until the hike was almost over and I was back at the avy area. I’d call it rotten rubble, or choss most of the way. I rounded the first bump in the ridge to the left, climbed straight over the second, and then took a gully up to the top. There is some loose rock here.
Here’s a look back down to this point
Turning left (northwest) I dipped down to the left a few times to avoid snow and unnecessary ridge crossings
Of course, the summit is the furthest ‘hump’ on the ridge
I followed a small, rock filled gully to the summit
I summited Mt Blaurock at 7:30am
Mt Blaurock Summit:
There are some great views of surrounding peaks, a few of which I visited last week;
I headed back over the ridge on the same path I took in:
Here’s looking down at the traverse between Blaurock and Ervin Peak. The hike down to the saddle from Blaurock is easy
I met a nice ptarmigan along the way
Here’s a look from the saddle of the ridge to Blaurock and Ervin
This is where it gets tricky. Here’s the route I took to avoid the snow:
It looks like there might be a class 2 path here along the right (south) side, but with the snow in key areas I wasn’t able to take that route. There was snow in this section, turning the rest of the hike into class 3 on loose rock. I had one rock the size of a microwave fall while I was testing it. Luckily, I was just testing and didn’t have any weight on the rock. It scared me though. A helmet would be a good idea. Note which areas actually “go”: The dirt gullies here make it look like there are trails where there are not. Here are pictures of how I navigated the ridge. This took quite a bit of careful route finding.
This is actually easier than it looks. Class 3, and I placed a cairn here so I’d remember how to get back (there are a lot of drastic drops in this area).
The last hurdle was unavoidable snow just before the summit. I tested the snow and honestly considered turning back. The snow was slippery and a fall would have took me a long way. In the end I strapped on my crampons and got out my ice axe, glad I’d brought both. I traversed these two areas (about 40 feet each) gingerly.
The last bit up to the summit was full of loose rock but was straightforward
I summited Mt Ervin at 9:30am (that’s Mt Hope in the background)
Ervin Peak Summit:
I didn’t stay long on the summit. The day was warm and the snow was melting fast: I wanted to cross the snowy areas as quickly as possible to avoid slipping. I turned around and headed back the way I’d come.
I was making this a loop, so when I hit the westernmost part of the ridge I turned and headed southwest down. This ridge was easy to navigate but full of loose, rolling rocks. It was slow going because I had to be careful with foot placement. This ridge kind of turns right as it goes. Here’s a hint: If it’s daylight, just keep heading towards the switchbacks that you can see in the middle of the picture below.
From about halfway down the ridge here’s looking back at Mt Blaurock and Ervin Peak. The blue arrow points to where you could hike from the landslide area straight to the saddle instead of taking the ridges up and down
Here you can see you want to meet back up with the landslide area, and that to do so you’ll be bushwhacking through dense aspen. I could still see the switchbacks, but only just barely and only because the aspens aren’t completely full of leaves yet.
There were enough game trails here to follow not to make this too difficult. It would have been easier if I were 2 feet tall though, because those trails go under logs and through brush.
I made it back to the landslide area, took a picture of it in the daylight, and turned and headed south towards my parking space.
I made it back to my truck at 12pm, making this a 6 mile hike/climb with 3821’ of elevation gain in 8 hours, most of it spent route finding and watching for rolling rocks.
Here’s a picture of the saddle, should you choose to ascend that way
When I got home and started jotting down notes I realized today I’d hiked my 145th unique 13er, as well as my 145th unique bicentennial. Pretty cool!
Also, it’s time to retire my hiking boots, as they are no longer waterproof. They almost made it a year….