TR: Cooper & Marten Peaks 7/14-7/16/2010
Took a 3-day solo backpacking trip into the Indian Peaks Wilderness. Climbed one of the best semi-technical routes I've done in the mountains yet, and saw a lot of beautiful scenery and not a lot of people.
The first day, I started at the Monarch Lake Trailhead and hiked to Gourd Lake. This is about 8.2 miles and 2480' of elevation gain.
The second day, I climbed Cooper Peak (12,296') via it's beautiful 4th class South Buttress route, then continued on to Marten Peak (12,041') via the 3rd class Northeast Ridge. A bit over 3 miles and 1900' of elevation gain this day.
The final day I hiked back to the car. Total for the trip was just under 20 miles and about 4300' of climbing.
Monarch Lake from the trailhead.
The creek flowing out of Island Lake, with a good bridge and not-so-good handrail (only attached on one end).
Thunderbolt Peak. This is actually a false summit.
The actual summit of Thunderbolt Peak.
This is what the last 3 miles of trail looks like as you climb out of the Buchanan Creek valley up to Gourd Lake. Switchback after switchback!
Paiute Peak. Skied the other side of that in 2008.
The steep creek cascading down from Thunderbolt Peak's northeastern cirque.
Although I've seen plenty of trees with some reddish color from lightning strikes, I don't think I've ever seen one that was this deep a red over the entire length of the tree.
Gourd Lake. Cooper Peak rises monolithically over the far side. I arrived in time for some great afternoon light, and set up camp on the far side on some ledges among the cliff bands.
Woke up the next morning to this view.
Columbines might be my favorite alpine flower.
Looking into the rugged heart of the indian Peaks to the south. Paiute, Toll, Apache, Navajo, Lone Eagle Cirque, etc.
Once you climb to the bench above Gourd Lake, the route up Cooper is obvious. I basically followed the line between shadow and light on the beautiful upper rock buttress. Cooper can be climbed more easily via the west ridge (left side of photo), but that route is not nearly as fun.
The cirque that I circumnavigated. Marten is the left summit, Cooper is the right summit.
The route up Cooper is amazing. Solid rock in a remote setting, hard 4th class climbing in an extremely aesthetic position with plenty of exposure. Cooper itself is a bit of a anticlimatic summit though, as the Continental Divide is just a stone's throw to the east, and is higher than Cooper's summit. This is the view from southeast to southwest.
The view from Cooper's summit from the west to north. Marten Peak down and left, Mount Irving Hale is the next low summit, the Hiamovi Mountain is the big mass on the right.
A closer look to the south. Paiute Peak, Mt. Toll, Shoshoni, Navajo, Apache, and a whole bunch of others are all visible.
Left photo is the Fair Glacier on Apache Peak. I skied the other side of Apache earlier in the week. Right photo is Hopi Peak and the Hopi Glacier.
Marten Peak and the ridge I would use to get there. It's an easy ridge walk except for 60ft of 3rd class scrambling to get on top of the summit block.
Self portrait on Cooper's summit.
Climbing to a peak is pretty much the only way you get to look down into alpine lakes, unless you have a helicopter. This is Island Lake.
Anyone who has tried to take a picture of one of these guys knows it requires a lot of patience. They don't usually sit still for long. Pika!
Cool patterns in the rock.
The unnamed lake below Marten Peak.
After my hike, I hucked myself off a 20 footer into Gourd Lake, then found a nice perch above the lake to sit and read. Here's the view from my reading spot. Not bad, eh?
My camp above Gourd Lake.
The rock I hucked myself off of. There is fantastic hucking potential at Gourd Lake. I spotted a 10 footer, this 20 footer, a 40 footer, and many other options.
Back down near Monarch Lake. Just a lazy Colorado stream.