PT 13801 & “Campbell Creek Peak” – 13,454

RT Length: 11.29 miles

Elevation Gain: 4559’

To finish off my birthday weekend I wanted to hike two more 13ers, which would bring my total to 200 unique Colorado 13er summits.  I chose these peaks because we’ve recently had our first snow and I’ve attempted this peak before and turned back due to snow/conditions.  If I wanted to get PT 13795 in this year I was going to have to do it soon.   

I drove down to the Grizzly Gulch/Silver Creek Trailhead and didn’t make it there until after dark.  The parking lot was packed, there were several tents set up, and tons of campers enjoying campfires.  In short, it was loud and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I parked, fired up my jetboil and made my birthday dinner of cup noodles and mashed potatoes.  As I ate dinner, I made some notes from the days climb, then got ready for bed.  There are clean bathrooms at this trailhead (no toilet paper though).  As I came back from the bathroom I ran into a rather large deer licking my truck.  I tried to shoo it away but she wouldn’t budge, so I carefully made my way into the back of my truck while she continued licking my bumper.  On a positive note, by 9pm the entire trailhead was silent and everyone had gone to bed, so I had no problem falling asleep.

I awoke to 32 degree weather and a layer of frost on top of my sleeping bag.  Looks like I’m going to have to start winterizing my topper.  Since it was cold I put on my puffy as well as my windbreaker, knit hat and gloves, and was on the trail at 5:15am.  

I started out by heading west, following the same trail as Handies Peak.  If you’re reading this I’m going to assume at this point you’ve summited Handies Peak and I won’t go into detail about the initial approach.  If you’d like to see the approach I’ve written it up from my failed attempt of PT 13795 last year.

I followed the Grizzly Gulch trail through the woods and past treeline.  After hiking for 2.5 miles I turned left and headed southeast towards an upper basin.  There was a faint trail here

Once in the upper basin I came to a lake.  There were two tents set up, so I tried to be quiet as I passed.  I skirted the lake to the left and headed towards the gully that would bring me into another basin.

Ascending the gully beyond the lake was class 2+.  The scree here was awful:  I’d take one step forward and slide backwards.  I actually used my ice axe and trekking pole here for stability, glad the sand was wet from the recent snow.  There was no trail, so I just aimed southeast and tried to avoid the snow (it was bulletproof by the way).

Once in the upper basin I had a few options.  I’ve read trip reports where hikers have used the gully to the left, but I’m not a fan of gullies.  In fact, I consider ‘gully’ to be a 4 letter word.  I took a look at the gully and said “nope”.  Instead I took the ridge to the right.  This was an easy hike on tundra, and should be the standard route.

Here’s a look at that gully I didn’t want to ascend

Just before gaining the ridge the tundra gave way to rock

At the top I turned left and headed southeast for an easy tundra stroll towards PT 13795

The last push to the summit was rocky, but stayed class 2

The summit was rocky as well

I summited PT 13795 at 8:20am. I only took 2 photos, and when I got home they were both terrible (oh well). 

PT 13795:

It was really hazy due to the fires, so I had a hard time getting a clear view of Campbell Creek Peak.  I’d heard the ridge between PT 13795 and Campbell Creek Peak didn’t ‘go’ so I was going to need to drop down into the basin and ascend another gully.  That gully didn’t look too bad.   Here’s the overall route I took

First heading south to avoid the class 3-4 section directly below the peak, and then east towards the basin

I just aimed for the stream, and then stayed to the left of the rock to gain the ridge

Here’s a look back at the route I took down from PT 13795 (it’s not as steep as it looks, but I was glad I’d hiked down this and not up)

I followed the ridge northeast to the summit of Campbell Creek Peak

I summited Campbell Creek Peak at 9:45am

Campbell Creek Peak:

After summiting I turned around and headed back down the ridge and into the basin.

Once in the basin I turned right and followed Campbell Creek north.  I crossed the creek towards the end of the basin and picked up a faint game trail

It was here I saw a herd of Bighorn Sheep.  They also saw me and quickly bounded away.

The game trail I was on kept disappearing and reappearing, so I decided to just follow the creek out of the basin

This led me to a large patch of willows.  I followed game trails northeast through the willows, around the side of the mountain

From here on out there was a lot of bushwhacking and route finding involved.  Luckily, I could see CR 30 in the distance, so I just kept traversing the side of the mountain, heading northeast and aiming for the road, slapping willows, bushes, and branches out of my way as I went. 

Eventually I came to a gully and followed it own to the Gunnison River, crossed the river on avalanche debris, and followed the road a mile back to the trailhead. 

Here’s a look back at the gully I came down

I made it back to my truck at 12:30pm, making this a 11.29 mile hike with 4559’ of elevation gain in 7 hours 15 minutes.

Oh, and I didn’t get a picture of the deer licking my truck, but there were obvious signs it had when I got back and saw it in the daylight.

Campbell Creek Peak was my 200th unique 13er.  Not a bad way to end a birthday weekend! 

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.

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