Ascent of Woods Mountain on 2019-09-01

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:glen mizenko
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, September 1, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Woods Mountain
    Elevation:12940 ft / 3944 m

Ascent Trip Report

Glen and I decided to do an ambitious traverse around all the alpine meadow peaks in the Herman Gulch area. The idea was to drop a car at Herman Gulch (off I70) and another at Ruby Creek Trailhead off Wood Creek Road (which is off Henderson Mine Road which you find at the hairpin curve on West Park Avenue on the way to Berthoud Pass). The hike was to capture 6 distinct peaks in around 10 to 11 miles although I went over 11 miles because I make my own switchbacks up steep alpine grades where others beeline and stop and catch their breath while I keep slogging along. No rests but more distance as I take the slope out. The firsts were in order: Machebeuf – Woods – Parnassus – Bard – Robeson – Englemann.


We started by hiking up the standard Herman Gulch Trail but once we got Machebeuf in sight we grabbed the first gully-avalanche chute and headed up. Note that peakbagger logs this peak as 12805 but Google and list of Johns gives it a name. This approach was the hardest part of the hike all day as it is about a 2500 foot ascent of VERY steep class 2. The gully has rock formation obstacles, but we were able to find exits out of the gully and keep from having to worry about loose rock falling on us. Once we cleared the gully it was all open grassy slopes. The slopes look like easy grass but there is actually a lot of inter-dispersed scree so the footing was a bit tricky. We had poles. Without them… would have been rough. At one point we measure the inclination and the entire grassy hillside was at least 40 degrees! We fortunately missed all false summits and arrived up there 2.3 miles in one hour and 50 minutes which was good considering the poor footing up.


It is a very easy hike over to the twin peaks of Woods. This was easy class 1+ to 2. I did not string all my GPS tracks together or I would have exceeded what peakbagger can upload so each segment was loaded separately. So there are 6 GPS tracks to follow peak to peak. At the summit we met a solo hiker and we invited him to join us. He was a solid day hiker named Blake Letourneau who uses He accompanied us the rest of the day.


This is a beast to climb. Although it is not but around a 500k prominence peak the connecting saddle is on the Bard side so coming from Woods is a long slog up around 1000 feet more gain. It was here that we started to see other people. The hike is easy in terms of firm grassy open slopes, but the grade is likely around 30 to 33 degrees, so some switch back hiking was easier once again. But not nearly as treacherous as Machebeuf. Blake followed us up this peak using the more standard upslope pace where one’s stamina gets tapped and although much shorter hiking distance causes one to stop and catch their breath. I have been preaching to Glen about using the slope, contouring more and find your natural stride…keep one’s pulse down and breathing down. It takes more steps you but you never stop and the tortoise will win the race. I have been experimenting with this a lot this year and it seems to always beat the pack up. Blake took off and got ahead of us and Glen and I kept criss crossing in front or behind him but as he stopped to get micro-breaks we never stopped ascending. Glen topped out first with me shortly behind him but we never stopped once. My long swooping criss-cross path used up 1.7 miles and climbed 1100 feet in 50 minutes. At the top we met another two solo hikers and one of them also decided to join us. He was Marvin Hamsure with his dog. Now we had a party of 4 plus a dog to the end. Glen had done Englemann and Robeson before and knew a nifty back country descent that would save the others time back to their cars.


The hike to Bard was the only segment with some harder walking as the ridge goes around some rock formations and there is some small section of class 2+ scampering and talus on the way down from Parnassus but then it is all grass the rest of the way again. Bard is the gem standing at the center with over 1k of prominence. Because of the slower down climb off Parnassus and around the small tower and talus, we took about 50 minutes to summit Bard.


Is an easy gain from the connecting saddle and again good terrain. Glen and I got on the peak within 35 minutes. Our party of four cinched up again and headed over to our last peak. Glen and I did a total of 6 peaks where Marvin did 5 (he started at Woods and did not get Machebeuf) and I am not sure if Blake did 4 or 5 that day. Marvin and Blake loop hiked from the Ruby Lake TH where Glen and I thru-hiked from Herman Gulch.


Englemann was our last hard push and another 600 to 700 feet of gain and a very nice peak to end on with good views. The bushwhack down was not a route-finding exercise and we headed over a couple of rocky points and easy class 2+ scamper and followed the open grassy areas down towards the forest. The slope on this hillside was under 40 degrees but still very steep but had good grassy holds not like Machebeauf (thankfully). It was a long bushwhack and open country decent of over 3,100 feet.

For Glen and I we did between 10.8 and 11.4 miles hiking (mine registered more as I took even broader switch backs on long stretches to lower my net slope up-hiking. We both showed around 5500 feet of total gain for the day and 6 peaks. One peak over 1k prom; 2 over 500k and 4 over the 300-foot prominence threshold. Both Marvin and Blake were good companions and solid back country hikers that Glen or I would be happy to hike with again.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:425 ft / 129 m
    Total Elevation Loss:290 ft / 88 m
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Open Country
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:425 ft / 129 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 135 ft / 42 m; Extra: 290 ft / 88m
    Loss on way in:290 ft / 88 m
    Distance:1.3 mi / 2.1 km
    Route:see GPS track
    Start Trailhead:Top of Machebeuf  12805 ft / 3902 m
    Time:30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Route:see next GPS track segment
    End Trailhead:Summit of Woods  
Ascent Part of Trip: Herman Gulch Loop

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Peak 128052019-09-01 b2523 ft / 769 m
3Woods Mountain2019-09-01 d425 ft / 130 m
4Mount Parnassus2019-09-01 e1119 ft / 341 m
4Bard Peak2019-09-01 f584 ft / 178 m
5Robeson Peak2019-09-01 g210 ft / 64 m
6Engelmann Peak2019-09-01 h752 ft / 229 m
Total Trip Gain: 5613 ft / 1711 m    Total Trip Loss: 1437 ft / 439 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by William Musser
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

Download this GPS track as a GPX file

This page has been served 90 times since 2005-01-15.

Copyright © 1987-2021 by All Rights Reserved. Questions/Comments/Corrections? See the Contact Page Terms of Service