Treasury Mountain – 13,462 and Treasure Mountain – 13,528

RT Length: 12.90 miles

Elevation Gain: 4689’

I made it to the Yule Pass Trailhead the night before, driving in on a well maintained, 4WD shelf road.  I’m pretty sure a 2WD vehicle could have made it to the top, but passing other vehicles was a problem.  Several times on the way in and out either I, or the other vehicle, had to back up on some pretty steep roads and squeeze into the mountain so the other could pass by.

It was a Thursday around 3pm, but all the dispersed camping spots were already taken.  I later learned there were several friends camping together, and each felt they needed their own campsite.  No worries though, as I was able to park by a small pond.

I was able to relax and read as a summer storm passed by, listen to my neighbors yelling at each other from across campsites (“DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHES?!?”, “WHAT????” , “I SAID, DO YOU HAVE THE MATCHES???”   “I THINK IT RAINED WHILE WE WERE GONE” ,  “WHAT???”  “RAIN!  I SAID I THINK IT RAINED!!!” – they probably should have shared a common site) and visually planned out my route for the next morning.

From my parking spot, there were several forks in the road.  This is the correct one for Yule Pass

I contemplated hiking the 12er Cinnamon Mountain before bed, but the thunder and lightning didn’t stop until it was too late to make an attempt, so I made it an early night, and was on the road at 3:30am, in an effort to finish my hike before the early afternoon storms materialized.

I followed the 4WD road to the Yule Pass Trailhead, Yule Pass Trail #576

From there, I followed Yule Pass Trail to northwest.  This trail used to be a mining road, but the mountain has re-claimed it and is healing its scars.  In a lot of areas it’s impossible to tell there was ever a road around this mountain.  Some areas were steep, but the runnels were all crossable. 

After hiking for 2.5 miles, I came to a gully just before Yule Pass.  I would use this gully to access Treasury Peak.  Also note the snow covering the trail to the left.  I was unable to see this in the dark on my way in, and it proved a problem on my way out. I had to re-trace my steps, but I was able to stay safe by exiting down the same gully I ascended.

I’d made great time, and it was still dark.  I couldn’t see much, so I waited for 20 minutes for the sun to rise.  There were a lot of clouds in the sky, and the sun refused to make a timely arrival, so I continued on.  Here’s what my ascent looked like

I know those pictures weren’t helpful, so, from later in the day, here’s a visual of how I ascended the ridge to Treasury Mountain

The terrain was full of loose rocks and smooth slabs, which gave way to smaller loose rocks and scree.  No worse than 2+.  I wore a helmet, and stuck to the runout until I made it to the ridge.

Once on the ridge, I could see Treasury Mountain to the northwest

This was a straightforward ridge hike, until the last bit, where the ridge became a series of slabs.  These would have been sketchy if they were wet, or if my shoes were lacking traction, but I was able to take the smooth rocky ledges to the summit. There’s a class 2 bypass below if needed.

I summited Treasury Mountain at 6:20am, just as it started to rain

Treasury Mountain:

I was glad I didn’t have to downclimb those slabs, as when wet they would have been a challenge.  Instead, I continued on towards Treasure Mountain, following the ridge for a bit to the northwest, then dropping down once I could see the defunct mine below.  From the summit of Treasury, it looks like the ridge goes all the way to Treasure, and it does, most of the way, but the area circled in red isn’t climbable without rope.  It’s part of a band of rock in the mountain that spans its whole side, so I would need to descend 1370’ to avoid this area.

I put on my microspikes and descended on scree past an old mine (not much is left)

I descended to 12400’, to a gully I’d descend to put me in the basin below. The gully was class 2, and easier to navigate if I kept to the right. 

At the base of the gully I could see the route before me I needed to take, to gain the ridge. This was all class 2. I lost several hundred more feet of elevation on my way, then gained it all back making it to the ridge

Here’s that rock band I was trying to avoid that all cliffed out

Here’s looking back up at the gully I descended

And now to gain the ridge.  Here are some step-by-step pictures of the terrain

Once on the ridge, to my left I could see the part of the ridge I was trying to avoid

I turned left and headed west along the ridge

Here are some close-ups of the ridge.  There are a couple of false summits, but if you got a good view of Treasure from Treasury, you already know this

I summited Treasure Mountain at 9am

Treasure Mountain:

Now to head back to the saddle.  I was going to descend similarly (but different) to the way I gained the ridge

Once back on the saddle, I aimed for this gully, put on my microspikes, and descended through it

Once down the gully, I stayed right of the rock rib, but headed back towards Yule Pass. 

Here are some step-by-step pictures.  I stayed above the small marshy area

Here’s another view of the gully I took down from Treasury

Eventually, I was able to see a game trail below, which led me to the actual trail

I then took the trail back up to Yule Pass

Once there, I should have been able to take the road back to my truck, but there was snow still covering it, even in mid-July, so I retraced my steps and took the first gully of the day again, but you should be able to take the road back all the way.  If not, it’s an easy and obvious workaround.

I now followed the road back to my truck

I made it back to my truck at 12pm, making this a 12.89 mile hike with 4689’ of elevation gain in 8.5 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

V3 – 13,545

RT Length:  8.29 miles

Elevation Gain: 3542’

Ophir Pass Road is a serious 4WD road, but the trailhead for this peak can be accessed from the Ophir city side with just a high clearance vehicle.  There were a few small water crossings, but 4WD was never needed.

I parked in a parking area about 1.3 miles east of the town of Ophir, on Ophir Pass Road, in the Iron Spring area.  All the parking spots were taken but 1, and every vehicle was parked there overnight.  This is a popular spot to park to backpack/hike in the area. 

The mosquitoes were out here as well, so I made it an early night and got some sleep.  I was up and on the trail by 3:45am.  The trail starts on a blocked 4WD road to the south of the parking area.

I followed this road southeast and then south, through gates, aspen trees and two stream crossings with easily crossable bridges

After the second stream crossing, I passed below some power lines, turned left to follow the trail, and started gaining elevation.

The hike below treeline was nice, and the trails were class 1, but there were no trail signs or numbers, and several trail crossings.  I’ll do my best to describe the correct route.

I followed a well-defined path south.

At the first fork in the road, I turned right

At the second fork I turned right again, off the road and onto a trail (I’d hiked a total of 1.15 miles at this point)

I hiked west for a few yards, and then came across a trail junction.  I continued heading straight

I was now on the trail that heads south/southwest up the hillside.  This is also where I ran into a porcupine.  Porcupines don’t run, but we noticed each other while we were about 3 feet away from each other:  He quickly turned and waddled away in the dark, showing me his full backside of quills as he did so. 

I continued on this well defined trail

Here’s your first glimpse of V3.  Look carefully, the arrow points to the exact summit, which you won’t see again until you’re there.

After hiking for a total of 2.25 miles and 11350’ I came to a small water crossing over the trail, and a meadow to my right. I left the trail and headed through the meadow.  It was still dark, and there was a camper with a bright headlamp getting ready for the day.  He was confused why I was ‘off trail’ and tried to direct me back to the proper trail.  I assured him I was going in the right direction, apologized for walking so close to his campsite, and nicely told him I didn’t expect to find a trail to the summit.

I was now in a meadow and basin.  There were wildflowers I couldn’t yet see in the dark, and willows I kept encountering.  I found out the hard way to stay right to avoid the willows.  The path is obvious in the daylight.  Here’s the route I took.

And some step-by-step pictures of my way to the saddle, first hopping across a small stream

Staying right to avoid the willows and ascending a small gully that still had snow.  Microspikes were helpful here, both on the scree and snow.

At the top of the gully, I was now in a rocky upper basin.  I crossed a boulderfield and headed towards the saddle.

Here’s a look at the last bit of hiking to the saddle

Once on the saddle I turned left and followed the ridge southeast, staying to the left of the snow.

At the top of this area you can see the crux of the route.  Now is a good time to put on your microspikes and helmet, if you haven’t already.  It’s much steeper than it looks, and the scree isn’t manageable without microspikes (trust me on this one).

Here’s your intended route:

You’re aiming for this gully.  The scree here is steep; a 45 degree angle for an extended amount of time. 

Once at the base of the gully the class 4 climbing begins.  The route is obvious, curving around to the right.  There is really only one way to go:  follow the trail set out for you from the fallen scree.  Also note:  the scree and rocks here are loose. Very loose.  I wouldn’t attempt to upclimb or downclimb this area with another person:  take turns the entire way up and down.  You will be causing screevalanches on climbers below you. 

Here are some pictures from the inside of the gully. Pictures do not do the steepness justice (although the pictures down give you a better perspective).  When heading up, continue climbing southeast.

Here’s a look at the exit of the gully

At this point it became even steeper.  I did not have on my microspikes, lost grip, and slid on my stomach backwards for a full 12 feet.  I seriously thought I was going to slide all the way back down that gully.  I braced myself, and without taking off my pack located my microspikes in my backpack pocket and gingerly put them on while trying to balance without much traction. It was much easier to upclimb once I put on my spikes.  Here is where I aimed

I then turned right, and hiked south towards the summit block. 

I made it to the base of the summit block and was surprised to see a pine marten.  He sat there and looked at me.  I tried to get a picture, but he quickly turned around and all I got was a picture of his tail and backside.  Why are all of my wildlife pictures of animal butts?

Ok, now, don’t let this summit block scare you:  yes, you can upclimb it, but you can also skirt it to the left and follow it around and have a class 2 trek to the summit, which is what I did.

I summited V3 at 7:15am.  There was a lot of smoke in the air from far away fires this morning.


I was surprised there wasn’t a summit register, so I left one.  It was obvious this peak does not get a lot of visitors. 

I kept my microspikes on for the trek back down, which seemed easier than the trek up.  Here are some pictures of the way back down the gully.  Once again, do this one person at a time, and when you’re done, head far away from the gully, as the rocks will slide and they will pick up speed as they do so. 

Once out of the gully, the scree-surfing will begin.  It’s always fun when you can ride the same pile of rocks all the way down the hillside.

Scree Surfing:

Here’s where you’re aiming.  If you’re doing this with another person, you should be standing far away from the rockslide area while they’re ascending/descending.  I’ve circled a good place to stand out of the way.

And now to hike down the ridge to the saddle, and exit the basin.

I made it back to the meadow, marveled again the wildflowers, and saw the group of campers were almost done taking down camp (I guess the man I talked to this morning was part of a larger group).  I made it to the trail, turned left, and followed it back to the trailhead.

I made it back to my truck at 9:45am, making this an 8.29 mile hike with 3542’ of elevation gain in 6 hours.