Menos Alto – 13,028

RT Length: 11.91 miles

Elevation Gain: 5143’

The San Isabel Creek Trailhead has a camping spot directly at the trailhead.  I parked a few yards away I a pullout, and was on the trail by 5:15am (after taking a 20 minute nap:  I was really tired this morning).

The San Isabel Trail (858) starts at the northeast side of the parking area (side note:  the trail register could use a pencil)

I followed the San Isabel Trail as it headed northeast. 

I crossed the creek quite a few times.  Creek crossing shoes weren’t necessary, but in the early morning there was a layer of ice on the logs and rocks, calling for some careful footwork.  In the afternoon the crossings were easy.

As I hiked, I came across a thin layer of snow on the ground, that eventually became a couple of inches deep.  There had been a 20% chance of snow forecasted the night before, and into the afternoon today. 

I hiked along the San Isabel Trail for just over 4 miles.  At 10,440’ I left the trail when I saw this (what used to be a) sign on my right for Trail 881.

Here I turned left, crossed San Isabel Creek, and headed up the drainage.  Here’s where I was headed.  As you can see, the ridge cliffs out to the left and right, so it’s important to stick to the drainage.

There were a lot of aspen trees here.  Since it’s almost winter there weren’t any leaves on the trees.  I’m guessing this is a completely different hike with leaves on the trees.  Today it was easy to stay in the drainage and hike up to the ridge.  I put on microspikes, as the snow wasn’t that deep and the leaf-snow combination was slippery.

I made it to the ridge and turned right, following the ridge north.  The actual summit is to the right.

The snow was intermittent as I was hiking.  The clouds would clear a bit, and then race back in, swirling the snow around and adding to it.  Luckily, following the ridge was easy.  I headed towards the pine trees

Once past the pine trees the tundra turned rocky.  I took this part carefully, as the thin layer of snow made the loose rocks slippery.  This is steeper than it looks, but class 2.

It’s also a false summit (but you already knew that: I didn’t at the time).  Here’s the actual summit

I just followed the ridge and its ups and downs.  The route was simple, but the wind and snow today gave it some spice.  Here are some pictures of the ridge hike

It was now time to head east and lose some elevation (not much, about 75 feet or so) and then gain the summit

The last bit to the summit was rocky.  There was a large cairn at the summit with 2 summit registers. It was windy and cold, so I didn’t open them.

I summited Menos Alto at 10am.  The clouds obstructed the views, but we need the snow!

Menos Alto:

When I started out on this hike snow hadn’t been anticipated.  I’d planned on linking up a few other peaks (13060 and 13062) but it didn’t look like the weather was going to let up.  I didn’t have a good visual of the conditions, and pictures wouldn’t have much context in a trip report:  I’d have to come back for those peaks another day.  I turned and re-traced my steps back down the ridge.

Here’s an overall view of the path I took from the ridge back to treeline.  I descended exactly the way I ascended, to avoid cliffing out on the rocks.  This was easy, as I just followed my tracks in the snow.

When it came time to descend, there wasn’t much of a visual.  Just before entering the trees I noted where the trail was below me, and aimed southeast, following the drainage towards San Isabel Creek and the trail I knew was just beyond.

Here are some pictures of my way back down the drainage

I re-crossed San Isabel Creek, and headed towards the trail. I found the old wooden sign, turned right, and followed the trail 4 miles back to the trailhead.

There were still a ton of creek crossings. 

Eventually the snow on the ground gave way to dirt, but it continued snowing until I made it back to the trailhead.  Cutting this hike short had been a good idea.

I made it back to my truck at 1:15pm, making tis an 11.91 mile hike with 5143’ of elevation gain in 8 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.

2 thoughts on “Menos Alto – 13,028”

  1. May I ask what camera you are using for your photos? Is it a mirrorless camera? I think you are also using an iPhone for the video?


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