TR: Arapahoe Peaks Traverse 7/26/2015


I've done many of the 3rd and 4th class ridge traverses in the Indian Peaks, but somehow had never done the most famous one - South Arapahoe to North Arapahoe. After a later start than planned (caused by an amusing story that will be best told over a beer around a campfire), I set out solo from the 4th of July trailhead to finally knock it off the list.

Because of the late start (7am vs. the planned 5am), I didn't stop for photos on the trail ascent up South Arapahoe, electing instead to put my head down and just rally up. I was able to tick off the approximately 4 miles and 3200' of climbing in just over 2 hours. I arrived to an empty summit and was treated to this fantastic view of the City of Boulder watershed.

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The view west is also stunning, with Neva and Jasper dominating and Winter Park, the Vasquez Wilderness, and the Gore Range in the distance.

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The fun begins at the summit of South Arapahoe. The higher summit, North Arapahoe, is just 3/4mi away with an interesting Class 3 ridge separating the two.

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The scramble was excellent, with several Class 3 cruxes on surprisingly solid rock. The only things marring the quality were some loose rock/scree/dirt in the final gully ascent, and the shortness of many of the cruxes. The hardest crux actually had about 3 moves that realistically are probably in the 5.2 range, but it's so short and minimally exposed at that point, so Class 3 seems like a reasonable rating. I don't think this is the best traverse in the IPW, but it was definitely worth doing.

Once on the summit of North Arapahoe (which I again had to myself), there's an excellent vantage of the Arapahoe Glacier. The glacier is owned by the City of Boulder, where public access is not allowed and strictly enforced with a hefty $1000 fine. Lacy always used to debate... is it worth the fine to ski the line? I dunno, but it is a beaut.

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The view east from North Arapahoe is a bit different, but still excellent.

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The climb back across the traverse went smoothly, with a few parties headed out to North Arapahoe. Looking back up at South Arapahoe on the descent.

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Jasper (left) and Neva (right).

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Down lower, the wildflowers were, and I believe this is the technical term, "ballin' out of control."

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It was a great day out in the mountains, and a good reminder that I really need to do more alpine ridge scrambles.


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