P1030631mod
Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


The trailhead for Grizzly Peak is over an hour drive (15+ miles) from Purgatory Ski area (20 miles south of Silverton) on a surprisingly good but slow dirt road. There are great views of Engineer Mountain on the way as you follow the road high above Cascade Creek.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Our first look at Grizzly Peak from the small, hanging basin to the southeast. The standard route gains the summit area via the short, wide, mostly dry gully left of center, NOT the snow-filled gully in the center of the peak.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Bluebird morning over Engineer Mountain.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Clouds refelcted in the small, unnamed lake southeast of Grizzly Peak. Engineer Mountain (12,968 ft) is five miles away.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Dominic heads for the easy gully that leads to the summit area of Grizzly Peak.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


The gully is mostly melted out and its easy to avoid the remaining snow. Ice axes and crampons stay in our packs as we make our way up the choss.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


"V 10" (center) and the Wilson Group (background) as seen from the top of Grizzly Peak. "V 10" is our next objective and only 2/3 of a mile away but getting there will be difficult, dangerous and time consuming.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


San Miguel Peak dominates the view north from Grizzly Peak. Sheep Mountain is to the left.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


We're about to cliff out near the bottom of a nasty gully we'd hoped would take us down the west side of Grizzly Peak. 5th class climbing, big rocks crashing down as we descend... not good. We turn around and carefully climb back up.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


After climbing most of the way back up the gully we traverse south, crossing many more gullies and generally working our way down until we find one that breaches the lower cliff band in such a way that we can overcome it.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


After escaping from the cliffs on the west side of Grizzly Peak we're confronted with about half a mile of sidehilling across loose, annoying talus. "V 10" is looking mighty intimidating. We're headed for the saddle on the right and somehow we've got to get ourselves from there to the summit on the left side of the photo. The south face is a scary, loose mess.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Heading for the saddle we take advantage of a small patch of snow to get a break from the nasty talus. The scree climb ahead is only a few hundred feet but its horrendous. Apparently Madonna's "Die Another Day" song is playing in Dominic's head for that.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Looking up at "V 10" from the scree slog.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Looking back at the talus traverse from the saddle. The orange rock is pretty but its complete junk.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Starting up the east ridge of "V 10". Not bad.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Soon large lowers complicate the ridge crest and a hard to follow, cairned route traverses across endless gullies and ribs below the ridge crest on the south face. The rock quality is disturbingly poor.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Our cautious and calculated passing makes the mountain fall apart and we're constantly sending piles of rock down the steep chutes that cover the face.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


The scrambling is only 3rd class but this is downright dangerous. Both of us are not happy with the situation because there is so much objective danger.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Passing under the chossy towers on the east ridge.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Finally the horrific traverse is coming to an end and we climb up a loose little gully toward the ridge crest. Grizzly Peak is in the background.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


A cairn guides us back to the ridge crest. We continue taking turns scrambling and taking cover.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


San Miguel Peak as seen from the east ridge of "V 10".
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Approaching the summit at last.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Grizzly Peak from ""V 10".
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Sheep Mountain and San Miguel Peak from "V 10". Its too bad this mountain is such a dangerous pile of choss because the views are fantastic!
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


View east to Rolling Mountain. We'll be descending into that basin to avoid having to reverse our highly-detested ascent route. This won't be no picnic either though!
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Pilot Knob, U S Grant, Golden Horn, Vermilion & Fuller
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


After descending the east ridge to the point at which we gained it on the ascent we bailed down the north side of the mountain on steep, loose 2nd class talus. Danger lurks here as well, particularly near the very top. Dominic knocked loose a scary stack of boulders and I had to hold my breath and lightly ooze down over what remained. You can't let your guard down on this peak; anticipate the wreckage before making any moves and prepare accordingly. Not for inexperienced choss dancers. However, once you get a few hundred feet below the ridge you're on annoying but safer terrain; loose talus but probably not big enough stuff to threaten your life.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Another shot of beautiful San Miguel with a tiny but interestingly blue lake at its base.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Dominic descending the loose north face of "V 10". There is just no good way to climb this mountain; its apparently not meant to be climbed.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Talus for as far as the eye can see. Yippee!
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


The awesome little blue lake below San Miguel Peak. We couldn't resist the short side trip.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Grizzly Peak and the Grizzly/"V 10" saddle as seen from the north. Might have been a little safer to descend there and climb the north face rather than taking the dangerous east ridge.
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Grizzly Peak & "V 10"
San Juan Mountains
July 23, 2011


Dominic shows his appreciation to "V 10". He found this hike to be particularly disturbing and says its the first time he felt a mountian was outright malicious; capabale of inflicting a major hurt on a climber even if everything was done "right". Definately a serious undertaking that I'm glad is behind me. "V 10"... check

The hike out Cascade Creek and back to the Colorado Trail was atrocious; a horrible and long willow bushwhack and swamp walk followed by steep sidehilling.