Magdalene Mountain – 13,780

RT Length: 15.32 miles

Elevation Gain: 4074’

The creek crossings to get to the Rockdale Trailhead were easier than I’d anticipated.  6-8 inches of water weren’t difficult to pass (it’s now September in a lower snow year).  In the dark the willows and water made navigation fun.  Colorado pinstriping indeed. 

There were only two stream crossings, just at the beginning of the 4WD road, but tons of short ups and downs and puddles.  I drove slowly and I’m pretty good at navigation, but still managed to hit the underside of my truck a couple of times (I have a stock Tundra).  This picture is from one of the easier areas of the drive.  Most of the difficult areas have tree cover, making pictures difficult.

At 10880’ there’s a sign that says the road ends (even though it looks like it goes further).  There are several large camping sites here.  I parked my truck and got out my gear

I was on the trail at 5am, following the 4WD dirt road south.

After hiking for .3 of a mile I came to the ‘old’ parking area, now covered by an avalanche.  There’s a nice trail through this if you stick to the left.

After the avalanche area the 4WD road picks up again

After hiking for .75 miles total I came to the junction of the trail and the road.  Both ways go around the lake.  I chose to go up and over the hill

Giving me a good look at Cholsey Lake

And then I followed the trail back down the hill and into the basin. 

This is a class 1 trail that heads south through pine trees, willows, and some small creek crossings

At around 3 miles of hiking the trail started turning left, curving southeast.  Here the trail became faint, but there were plenty of well-constructed cairns to guide the way up to the pass at 12,500’.  Off to my left I saw a huge bull elk, bounding away.

At this point the trail was now gone, but I had a great view of Pear Lake.  Pear Lake wasn’t where I was headed however. I turned left and followed the ridge northeast, staying as high as possible.

My goal was to aim for this gully.  There are a lot of ups and downs here, so I tried to stay high.

Here’s the path I took, step by step, to get to the gully

The safest way to approach this gully is to start out by going left around this boulder, and then straight up, following the scree trail

There are a lot of loose rocks here, the kind that cause rockslides, so watch your footing.

The top of the gully put me at 12,860’.  Now it was time to head back down, staying as high as possible, but still losing about 300’ of elevation as I traversed my way over to Magdalene’s ridge.  Here’s an overall of the route I took

And step by step:  First, down the gully.  The most stable area is to stick to the left, near the rock

Then I headed southeast, staying high

The rocks give way to tundra.  I kept aiming for the ridge

Keeping Silver King Lake to my right, I made it to the base of the ridge.  Here there’s a cairned trail that picks up and will lead you to the summit.  It starts by zig-zagging up and around the first ledge

Then following the well cairned trail to the saddle

It looks like the trail has been covered in rockfall in areas, but the cairns help to stay on course

Once at the saddle I turned right and followed the ridge southwest

There are several social trails up this ridge, but I was able to summit by sticking to the ridge proper, keeping this class 2

I summited Magdalene Mountain at 9:40am

Magdalene Mountain:

There are 2 summit registers here. 

Time to head back the way I came.  First, down the ridge

Once at the saddle I turned left and followed the trail back down the mountain

Here’s an overview of the route back to the pass

And step by step:

Here’s looking back up at the gully.  Once again, I stayed north to ascend

From the top of the gully, here’s the overall route back to the pass

And step by step.  Down the gully and across the rocks

Staying high

Then taking the plateau back to the pass, where the trail picks back up again

I turned right at the cairns and headed back down to the basin

I looked longingly at the ridge that connects Pear Peak with PT 13517.  I really wanted to do that ridge today.  It was an absolutely perfect day, but I was short on time, as the drive in had taken longer than expected.  I had to get back home and finish working for the day. Oh well, it will be a fun adventure in the future.   Here are some pictures of the route back down.  Spirits high, I rather enjoyed the hike out. 

Back to the lake and up the hill

Past the avalanche area

And back to my truck. I made it back to my truck at 2pm, making this a 15.32 mile hike with 4074’ of elevation gain in 9 hours

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.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: