Colorado 13er Trifecta: My Hike of Horseshoe Mountain, Peerless Mountain and Finnback Knob - July 4, 2010
Introduction To Horseshoe Mountain (13,898')
"With an elevation of 13,898 feet, Horseshoe Mountain ranks
among the 100 highest peaks of Colorado. For many peak baggers,
that's reason enough, and it sees frequent ascents. For those less inclined
to play the numbers game, Horseshoe is a worthy goal because of its ease of access,
the views it affords, and its magnificent glacial cirque.
Seen from the west, Horseshoe is merely a bump on the ridge that
is the Mosquito Range, barely distinguishable from its neighbors.
From the east, Horseshoe takes on a new character and becomes the peak by which all
of its neighbors are defined. The namesake cirque on Horseshoe's east side is a beacon from much of the South Park area and is most likely the outstanding geographical feature of the Mosquito Range.
Horseshoe is usually climbed from the east side via a series of old mining roads
originating from the Leavick site, southwest of Fairplay. Hikers of Mt. Sherman will
be familiar with this trailhead. Other routes are possible on this gentle mountain.
A ridge run north from Weston Pass looks to be a sure winner and there are several
lines through the cirque itself that look feasible on spring snow."
The description above is so fitting that I chose to start this page with it.
Horseshoe Mountain's enchanting cirque has always caught my eye during my times in this canyon. Today I
made Horseshoe Mountain the grand prize of my hike ... and oh did she not disappoint.
Today I climbed Horseshoe Mountain (13,898') from the Fourmile side,
and also visited two other nearby 13ers in Peerless Mountain (13,348') and
Finnback Knob (13,409'). Only Horseshoe Mountain is considered a "ranked 13er" based on the 300' saddle rule.
Still, it was gratifying to hit the 13er trifecta!
These mountains are located in the Mosquito Range, roughly between the
towns of Leadville and Fairplay.
The adjacent photo is my first picture, taken as I traveled on Lake County Road 18 in the Fourmile Canyon.
I turned left onto Road 603, which travels way up to the saddle between Peerless
Mountain and Horseshoe Mountain. A large patch of snow blocked the road approximately 0.5 miles
from this spot, which is where I began my climb.
I didn't want to drive too far up anyway... what is the point of a hike if you drive much of the distance?
Mt. Sheridan's pointed peak is on the right.
The spot where snow blocks passage for vehicles.
Two photos of Horseshoe Mountain from the same general area.
In the top photo, one can see the saddle between Horseshoe Mountain (left)
and Peerless Mountain (right). The road switchbacks many times to reach the ridge.
I cut through the road's switchbacks and grunted upward
on mostly grassy tundra. Peerless Mountain is on the right.
On the ridge, Mt. Sheridan (left) is in view with Peerless Mountain (right).
At the saddle, this was the grand view toward Horseshoe Mountain.
Looking across the Empire Ampitheater, my view of Finnback Knob.
Climbing up. My topographical map indiciates this is a modest ~150 foot ascent
to Peerless Mountain. I love shots like these of rocky talus! :)
Summit of Peerless Mountain - Alt. 13,348 Feet
Ah the beautiful view of Mt. Sheridan (left), Dyer Mountain (center) and Mt. Sherman (right).
Much of the standard hiking route for
Mt. Sherman can be seen.
This is mountain has very pretty summit views, but soon I was motivated to continue to Horseshoe Mountain.
Onward on the ridge, my view toward Horseshoe Mountain.
Note the circular mining holes on the left. Most are covered up,
but I would not recommend climbing at night without proper lighting.
Many remains of old mining structures and
dwellings remain in this area. In the background, White Ridge (alt. 13,684') stands impressively.
Coming closer to the top.
Summit of Horseshoe Mountain - Alt. 13,898'
The summit of Horseshoe Mountain was a broad and gentle slope. Amazingly, the wind seized while I was up there.
Obviously much of the cirque can not be seed from the summit.
Adjacent is the view to the northeast. The rocky brown ledge is part of the cirque.
Facing east, the grand view of Horseshoe Gulch directly
below and the Fourmile canyon with the town of Fairplay faintly noticeable on the left.
The small body of water is known as Leavick Tarn.
Also, note Sheep Mountain (12,818') and Lamb Mountain (12,438') are situated on the right.
To the south, 13ers
the Buffalo Peaks and Ptarmigan Peak are on the left. The low point in the valley (right)
is the site of Weston Pass. Also,
Mt. Princeton's lofty summit
is on the far right.
Another shot that includes the canyon leading to Weston Pass and the Sawatch Range.
There's so much mountain scenery to take in... how could I not take numerous pictures? :)
Then I decided to make this a 13er trifecta. Finnback Knob (left of center)
is located northwest or Horseshoe Mountain via a ridge. The slope was quite steep coming down.
Another view of Finnback Knob.
Summit of Finnback Knob - Alt. 13,409 Feet
Among the great mountain scenery, the view of Mt. Sheridan and Mt. Sherman was probably the most striking.
Note how steep Mt. Sheridan is from this side.
This is the ridge, looking across the Empire Ampitheater.
Peerless Mountain is the relative "bump" on the left of this ridge. Also, apparently a
trail exists that climbs out of the ampitheater up to the ridge.
Do you see the line? It is roughly shaped like a question mark.
Looking back toward Horseshoe Mountain, the peak I had just hiked from.
More mountain views with grassy tundra and rocks.
I met a few climbers in this vicinity who began near the Empire Reservoir,
west of this range.
A zoom-in of myriad peaks.
My ascent back up Horseshoe Mountain was quite a workout.
This particular spot was the steepest part, and sometimes it requires using my hands for Class 2+ climbing.
Coming back around the ridge, oh what amazing Colorado Rocky Mountain views!
My other hiking and photography pages in this region: