South Peak - Elevation 12,892 Feet I'll be the first to admit that this photo of South Peak,
taken during my hike from Weston Pass, will not endear many to take on this
12er in the Mosquito Range. The mountain looks like an ordinary hill.
However, this is a great hike for those who want to spend time above timberline,
but don't necessarily want a huge workout.
From Weston Pass, the elevation gain is 975 feet, and it's about two miles one way.
All in all, I had an excellent
hiking experience on South Peak and recommend it.
Weston Pass Road on the east side on Park County has some rough spots,
but I've made it twice in my ordinary 2WD passenger vehicle. The other side of the pass
in Lake County is known to be extreme that requires
4WD and higher clearance.
The entire hike from Weston Pass to South Peak
can be viewed on the National Geographic topographical map #110. It is named
Leadville / Fairplay.
Adjacent is a photo after turning back toward the Weston Pass parking lot.
An old road with wheel ruts will take you up the hill.
The view to the north. Weston Pass Road in the foreground with mountains afar.
Ahead was a herd of about 350 elk. They were beautiful!
However, I think they were alarmed at the presence of myself and two other climbers.
They were squealing in fear, and sounded like geese or waterfowl who
were crying because they were being attacked.
I've seen a lot of elk in my lifetime,
but never have I heard them make this sound. It prompted me to make this video ...
I noticed many ptarmigans near the top. I love this bird!
I guess the sight of ptarmigans is fitting considering a mountain across the valley is named Ptarmigan Peak.
Near the summit of South Peak, the view of the
Buffalo Peaks to the south.
Notice the two climbers in the foreground. I got to talk
with these two friendly guys, a father & son team
from Denver who have an impressive climbing record. They ascended
Mount Kilimanjaro in the late 1980s, and the father was rattling
off mountains throughout the world he had climbed. He has also
hiked all of the top 100 peaks in Colorado.
Regretfully, I didn't get their names, but they also had a love
for hiking lesser-known 13ers and 12ers in our state.
The top of South Peak is a large and flat area that's the size of about five football fields. Near the center (but not quite at the high point), I captured these two scenic mountain photos.
TOP: Looking back at Weston Pass and with the spectacular sight of
Weston Peak (13,572') above.
SECOND: Another shot of the Mosquito Range -- Horseshoe Mountain being most noticeable -- as it runs north.
On The Summit - South Peak 12,892 Feet
The sky became overcast during my hike. Many of my photos don't show how great the
FIRST: A cluster of rocks and a marker are at the summit.
SECOND: Nothing like rocky mountain chardonnay to celebrate the excursion. Twin Lakes and some of the lofty peaks in the Sawatch Range behind me.
THIRD: 14ers Mount Elbert and
Mount Massive sit across
the upper Arkansas River Valley. Note the gulch in the foreground.
My map names it Twobit Gulch and
it appears to be a viable route to South Peak.
FOURTH: A zoom-in photo of Twin Lakes with
La Plata Peak on the
left and Grizzly Peak in the center.
Returning to Weston Pass,
I captured a photo of the steep grassy hill that one needs to climb to reach Weston Peak and/or Ptarmigan Peak.
My climbing friends and I reminisced about how physically
demanding that section was. It looks especially imposing from this angle, but it can be done. :)