Ascent of Garfield Peak on 2019-09-16

Climber: William Musser

Others in Party:glen mizenko
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Monday, September 16, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Garfield Peak
    Elevation:13760 ft / 4194 m

Ascent Trip Report


After completing Ouray Peak and down and up again to tag the centennial "Grizzly" we set our sites on a bicentennial, Garfield. The final escape out of the crumbling towers of the two peaks around Garfield is a sandy saddle that looks from all angles of approach like a horrible 60-degree nightmare. But here is where it all gets positive. As you follow the use trails off of Grizzly there is an easy to follow path that works around the broken fingers and towers and it is stable easy ledges. Far easier than anything we experienced all day. What looks impossible from the peak is quite easy and safer material. Soon the paths lead to stable rock talus and scree slopes and this day of mental and physical exhaustion became one of great views and nice routes.

At the top of Garfield we could finally see the actual slope of the escape slide (the saddle between Garfield and the unranked spiked towered hand peak next to it) and the slide looked like a very reasonable slope the illusion we saw all day of the route down off Garfield was no longer frightening. Even better it was “perfect scree and sand” – the type you could boot plunge with the consistency of snow. We were able to essentially run down the saddle slide as if it were soft snow – the amazing reprieve on our tired legs we needed.

But first we had to get off Garfield to the saddle. Reports say going back and around it to the saddle was safest. Tough call. One can traverse the ridge to a crux move where you would have to chin yourself down about an 8-foot wall to the saddle. There are solid finger grips at the top of the slab but it straight down, so you have a pretty athletic move to chin yourself down and then jump the last few feet. The landing is non-exposed and solid, so I was preparing to do this class 4ish dismount when Glen said no lets down-climb the class 3 around the backside. That did not require any physical strength and was the only class 3 on the hike to Garfield or off but it was exposed and on crumbly rock again so…….. I guess it is a matter of preference. I think we did the right thing by doing the class 3 downclimb to the saddle.

The best summary I could give us this day is this: Ouray peak is far harder than it looks and the ridge between it and Grizzly are not for inexperienced route finders or people with balance issues, fear of heights, etc and the material is horrible and high-risk injury crap. Grizzly looks hard and it is. It is just about as hard at it looks but do not consider it to be easy as a class 2 it is as hard as a class 2 as I can recall. Again, a lot of bad material and a lot of exposure in the bad material. Garfield looks by far the hardest and most dangerous and may make your stomach turn looking at it from the base and from the peak of Grizzly but is actually quite easy in comparison to the other two peaks and the horrible looking escape slide is actually one of the easiest and most fun I have ever found.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:521 ft / 158 m
    Total Elevation Loss:749 ft / 228 m
    Round-Trip Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Quality:7 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Stream Ford, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Descent (To Destination) Statistics
    Gain on way in:521 ft / 158 m
    Loss on way in:749 ft / 228 m
    Distance:1.3 mi / 2.1 km
    Route:see GPS track
    Start Trailhead:summit of Grizzly  13988 ft / 4263 m
Descent Statistics
    Distance:3.2 mi / 5.2 km
    Route:see GPS track
    End Trailhead:car at upper 4 wheel drive parking  
Ascent Part of Trip: Grizz

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Ouray Peak2019-09-15 a1637 ft / 499 m
2Grizzly Peak2019-09-15 b2094 ft / 638 m
3Garfield Peak2019-09-16 c521 ft / 159 m
Total Trip Gain: 4252 ft / 1296 m    Total Trip Loss: 1835 ft / 559 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

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