Alto Peak – 13060, Mas Alto Peak – 13062, and Menos Alto – 13,031

RT Length:  15.63 miles

Elevation Gain:  6250’

The last mile to the San Isabel Creek Trailhead was 4WD, but there were tons of campsites along the way.  Since it’s hunting season, a few of them were taken and I parked at the end of the road.

There was a faint trail at the end of the campsite that led me to the trailhead

I followed the San Isabel Trail No. 858 East, on a well-defined, class 1 trail.  

There were several creek crossings.  Since it was late September, they were all easily manageable, without creek crossing shoes.  The last time I was in the area I think I counted a minimum of 9 crossings.

After hiking for about 4.4 miles, and at 10450’ of elevation, I left the trail and headed northwest up this drainage.  There was some bushwhacking, as the trees in the slide area seem to be growing back

I crossed San Isabel Creek, and made my way up the drainage

I ended up going back and forth on either side of the drainage, looking for the best route.  There are some minor game trails in the area, but once you make it to the clearing you want to ascend the ridge to your left. 

Once on the ridge, I followed it north. As you can see, Menos Alto is to the right.  However, I’d already summited that peek, so I left it today for last. 

Here are some pictures of the route up the ridge.  It started out as tundra, then I entered the trees for a short bit, and exited to class 2 rock hopping.

I continued following the rocky ridge (class 2) northeast to this point, which is not a summit.

From there, I could see my next two objectives to the northwest, Alto Peak and Mas Alto Peak

I followed the class 2 ridge northwest to the first point, which was unranked

It was then a class 2 hike to the summit of Alto Peak

Alto Peak – PT 13060:

From Alto Peak I was headed north, towards Mas Alto Peak. The route looked straightforward, but I soon found the ridge cliffed out.

The ridge started out as class 2

But when I got to around 12830’ I had to get creative, as the ridge ran out.  I found a gully that looked like it ‘went’, which it did.  I descended northeast down the gully, and set up about several cairns indicating my route.  I was able to keep it all class 2+

Here are some pictures

I descended to 12700’, and then followed the contour of the mountain back up to the ridge

Now back on the ridge, I followed the class 2 terrain north to the summit of Mas Alto

Mas Alto Peak

PT 13062:

Now to retrace my steps back towards Alto Peak, and eventually Menos Alto Peak, by following the ridge south.

Here’s that section I avoided by going down the grassy gully, and the route I took to reascend.

Here are some step-by-step pictures of the route, now well cairned

I re-summited Alto Peak, and then this is the route I took over to Menos Alto… choosing not to re-summit the unranked points and instead taking grassy ledges.

The entire route was class 2.  Here are some closer pictures

The view from the summit wasn’t all that bad

Menos Alto – PT 13031:

And now to make my way back down the ridge

Then back down the ridge to the gully

And bushwhacking back to the trail

Once I made it to the trail, I turned right, and followed it back to the trailhead, still loving those stream crossings

I made it back to my truck at 4pm, making this a 15.63 mile hike with 6250’ of elevation gain in 11 hours.

On to the next trailhead!

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.