Irving Peak – 13,218 and North Irving – 13,017

RT Length (from Rock Lake): 11.44 miles

Elevation Gain (from Rock Lake): 4009’

This trip report starts at Rock Lake.  For instructions on the approach to Rock Lake, as well as the drive to Beartown from Silverton, click here.

Since I was already at Rock Lake, at around 11850’, I made it a late start and was on the trail at 6am.  I was in the camping area directly in front of the lake, and from there I headed south towards the pass.

There is a trail that picks up on the east side of the lake, that will take you all the way to the pass on a class 1 trail

It’s rocky, but there is a well-defined trail here with cairns

At the top of the pass I headed southwest, following the cairns as they descended a bit. The trail goes on to Half Moon Lake, but I didn’t want to go there, so after descending down a small gully I changed directions, and gained the ridge to the west.

I spent a lot of time putting cairns in this area to help with navigation, but as long as you gain the ridge, the next part of the route will be obvious.

From the top of the ridge, I could see Mt Soso, and the gully I would need to climb to access the next basin, where Irving and North Irving were. 

This is the route I took to get to the gully.  There are a lot of small ponds in this area, and marshy areas.  I found I could skirt the water to the north, and then easily access the gully

I first had to descend 450’ into the basin (I stayed high, as you can descend much further if you take a different/lower route), and then re-ascended 560’ up the gully.

The gully really wasn’t that bad to ascend

At the top of the gully, I could see Irving Peak and North Irving.

I had a clear visual of how I wanted to ascend, and descend to get there.  This is the overall route I took.  I stayed high, losing about 650’ of elevation, and paralleled the mountainside at around 12300’ to get to the base of Irving Peak.  The dotted line is my descent route off North Irving (more details later).

Here are some close up pictures of the route

When I made it to the bottom of Irving Peak, I had a few options.  I decided to head up the gully to the left, but this meant I’d need to descend about 50 feet on the other side and then regain the ridge.  Now is also a good time to note my decent route from North Irving.  If I were to do this again, I’d choose the same route.  The gully I took down would not have been fun to upclimb. The area circled in red is what I was trying to avoid, as it didn’t look like it ‘went’.

Here are some pictures of my route up to the ridge (all class 2+)

And once on the ridge, the area I dropped down to avoid, and then regain the ridge

Some step by step pictures avoiding the rocks and accessing the gully

The gully was at worst class 3

At the top of the gully, here’s looking back on my route from the pass

I turned left, and followed the rocky ridge southwest to the summit of Irving Peak.  This was a class 2 scramble

I summited Irving Peak at 11:15am

Irving Peak:

Now to head over to North Irving.  This was a class 2 hike northeast down to the saddle, then 240’ of elevation gain as I followed the ridge northwest

I summited North Irving at 12pm

North Irving:

There was a storm coming in, so I quickly made my way back down towards the Irving/North Irving saddle. 

There are several gullies you can take down.  I took the second one, circled here in red.  I do not regret my choice.

Once out of the gully, I retraced my steps back the way I’d come, to the Oso/Soso saddle

From the Oso/Soso saddle I aimed for the ridge to the northeast, losing and then regaining elevation.

From the top the view can get a little confusing, because there are a lot of rocks.  Here’s the route:

You’re aiming for this gully, which will have cairns that will lead you back down to Rock Lake

There is a trail here that will lead you back to the lake

Notice there are a lot of campsites in this valley area as well

I made it back to Rock Lake at 3:30pm, making this an 11.44 mile hike with 4009’ 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.

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