Ascent of Elephant Butte South on 2018-09-01

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:Dan Connors
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, September 1, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Elephant Butte South
    Elevation:8367 ft / 2550 m

Ascent Trip Report

See GPS track for meandering exploration. This is a nice solitude outback CO experience. We finished a nice exploration and scrambling practice of Gilligan's Island trying several routes from 2+ scampers up to 3+ steep scrambles with consequential exposure but avoiding lethal exposure 4s. Climbing down a very interesting exposed 3+ section we headed down to the north and found the wide open trail-roads that led us to a trail crossing Buffalo Creek. The trail is not well used but immediately passes through two large boulders with steps up through the seam. You follow the trail till it bifurcates and has the only sign you will see in the back part of the parks. This announced you are now in Denver Mountain Parks and have left Jefferson County Parks. We took the trail left to the West and I watched the GPS reading. The trail mostly hangs along the park boundary but at one point dips down onto private property according to the map yet the actual fence is still further down-slope by the creek.

Soon you get to a place where the trail is lost to a series of 4-wheel drive trails and some stay on public lands and some meander downward into private lands. We stayed high and found ourselves now having to bushwhack towards the clear and easy to spot saddle between Elephant Butte and the lower West peak. Soon, a new fence but it is not barb-wire and it is easy to cross in the middle park-lands. Our route finding was so that we could head for any rock outcropping or headwall to climb. Dan loves to scramble. We found several fun places and even a place to two for Dan to take some Class 4. I stayed to the 3/3+ routes. We found one more nice class 3 section up to the saddle (avoiding class 2 woods) and once we hit the saddle we were surprised to see a well defined but not heavily used use trail to the summit. We wanted to scramble more but wanted to prove that the trail did hit the peak. On the way up we did find a few more places to play on rock and then returned to the trail.

There were nice views on the way up to the peak and more pinnacles of rock to scramble near the peak but the peak itself was not a panoramic view. But the woods were particularity appealing firs and ponderosa pine. More and more trails were found up there - apparently social trails have been developed in the Denver Mountain Park area but like most DMPs - there are no just stumble on them!. I wanted to go to the next peak (another one not entered into the database but with even better views and see where the trails headed. So we continued west.
Summary Total Data
    Trailhead:saddle between peaks  -9999 ft / -3047 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble

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