RT Length: 23.05 miles (CalTopo), 17 miles (Strava)
Elevation Gain: 7080’ (CalTopo), 9474’ (Strava)
I parked at the Music Pass trailhead the night before, the only other vehicle in the lot until a 4Runner pulled up.
I made it an early night, and was on the trail at 4am, heading west towards Music Pass.
I passed a trail register, which was full of moths and only one piece of paper. I didn’t bother signing it. The trail is class 1 and easy to follow
A tree has recently fallen near the signs at the top of Music Pass. I continued on the trail and lost 450’ as I descended to Sand Creek below.
Now is a good time to get a look at how you’re going to ascend the ridge from Sand Creek Lake. Getting up the ridge is not easy. I would not recommend the route I took up (dotted line). The easier route is up a gully. Also note the cliffs you’ll want to avoid. It’s important to make it to at least 13000’ before traversing to the ridge, as there are cliffs and chutes you’re trying to avoid. This is the overall route I took
After 3.3 miles I took the second junction and turned left.
I crossed Sand Creek and made my way to Sand Creek Lake on the class 1 trail. There was a lot of deadfall in this area
I made it to the lake as the sun was rising.
At the lake the trail ended. I knew I needed to ascend the ridge, so I headed south, which required some bushwhacking.
From here I’m going to show you how I descended, as it was much safer than the way I ascended. At around 11,400’ there’s a gully. It’s obvious, and the only one. Follow and ascend the gully southwest and then south.
This is where you ascend the gully. This can be done mostly on grassy ledges.
Once up the gully, it’s time to make it to the ridge. You don’t need to go all the way to the top, instead, ascend to about 13000’, then traverse over to the ridge at its lowest point. It’s important to make it to at least 13000’ before heading west to the ridge, to avoid the drop offs and smooth gullies. The terrain here is full of loose rocks. Every one rolls, so be prepared to wear your helmet and take your time.
It was at 13000’ I unexpectedly awoke a bobcat. He was not happy with me, but allowed me to take his picture before bounding off.
I continued heading west, across some tundra and rock filled gullies, towards the ridge.
Once on the ridge, I followed it straight up to PT 13495. However, this is an unranked point, so there is no need to go there. Instead, you can skirt this summit and instead head over to PT 13403 (also unranked). If you decided to go up and over PT 13495, it’s all class 2, both up and down.
From the summit of PT 13495, this was my route up 13403. The ridge looked like it went at class 3, but I decided to keep it class 2 and ascend the face
And some closer pictures
I summited PT 13403 at 10am
My next objective was to follow the ridge south towards Cleveland Peak. Here’s my overall route up (going down I stuck to the ridge, which was class 3 with maybe a few class 4 moves)
I made it down to the saddle, and crossed over on some scree.
From there I tried to stick to the ridge, but every so often I had to drop to the right. This is choose your own adventure. The ridge goes at continuous class 3, easy class 4, and was the most difficult climbing of the day.
I summited Cleveland Peak at 11am
My next goal was PT 13384, to the southwest. There was a little more class 3 ridge work, and then I crossed a plateau and made it to the Cleveland/13384 saddle
Once there, I followed the ridge to the summit. The ridge goes at class 3
Here are some closer pictures of the ridge
I summited PT 13384 at 12:10pm
Dead Man Peak was to the north. To get there, I would have to make my way back to the Cleveland/13384 saddle, re-ascend to the plateau, then head northwest over to Dead Man Peak
I made my way back to the Cleveland/13384 saddle
Re-ascended up to the plateau
Then descended 550’ and re-gained 400’ to the summit of Dead Man Peak. This could all be kept at an easy class 3 by sticking to the ridge
The summit is circled in red, to the northwest
I summited Dead Man Peak at 1:45pm
Dead Man Peak:
To get back to Cleveland Peak, I had to go back down to the saddle, and re-gain 770’ of elevation
After re-summiting Cleveland, I had the most difficult part of the downclimbing to do to get back to the 13403/Cleveland saddle.
I was able to stick directly to the ridge.
I did not summit PTs 13403 or 13495 this time, but skirted them to the right
Once I could see Lower Sand Creek Lake, I stayed high on the ridge to pass all the cliffs, then descended straight towards the gully below.
I bushwhacked it to northwest to Lower Sand Creek Lake, then found the trail and took it back to Music Pass
Then followed it back to the trailhead
On big days, I tend to get wildly different numbers from CalTopo and Strava. CalTopo says I did 23.05 miles with 7080’ of elevation gain, and Strava says I did 17 miles with 9474’ of elevation gain. In any event, the hike/climb took me 16 hours, 15 minutes to complete.
On to the next trailhead!