Ascent of Bull Creek Peak on 2013-06-12

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Wednesday, June 12, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bull Creek Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:12170 ft / 3709 m

Ascent Trip Report

A new road recently replaced the old 4wd road up to Cabresto Lake where I parked and set out on the Heart Lake Trail. This is the main trail into the Latir Wilderness, one of the scenic gems of NM high country. Unfortunately the trail receives little Forest Service maintenance. You'll be hopping large fallen trees over the trail less than a quarter mile from the start, the first of many. At 2.5 mi. I headed left at the trail junction with the Bull Creek Trail. Up to that point the climb is very gentle, only 900 feet elevation gain. The Bull Creek Trail follows the creek more steeply. Lots of water made two fords slightly tricky. After the second, at a bit over 10,700, the trail heads across a rocky meadow where it is sometimes obscured by grass and shrub growth. Some cairns help, although many have collapsed, another indication of lack of maintenance. I tried to repair a few.

The trails climbs steadily to a bowl at the base of several high peaks at roughly 11,700. Bull Creek Peak, on my left, looked forbidding with huge jagged rocks and sheer rock cliffs, but I headed up the col between Bull Creek and Cabresto Sur Este. While parts of this route are quite steep, there's really nothing above class 2. If you're at all scared of heights, you may find a few spots close to the top slightly iffy where the best route passes between trees on the right and a sheer drop just a few feet on your left. The last hundred yards up cross a boulder field, but not a difficult one: rocks fairly small, footing pretty stable.

On top you're treated to a magnificent 360 degree view of many of New Mexico's highest peaks, but I only stayed a few minutes for water, snacks, and photos. My perch on top was quite windswept, and I wanted to get home in time for supper.

Strong hikers will not find this ascent to be especially difficult. Indeed, I found several climbers on line who did several of the other nearby peaks in the same day. But it was a great--and very worthwhile-- challenge for the geezer mountaineer.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3040 ft / 926 m
    Total Elevation Loss:108 ft / 32 m
    Round-Trip Distance:10 mi / 16.1 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford
    Weather:Partly Cloudy
warm 81F at trailhead
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3006 ft / 916 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2932 ft / 894 m; Extra: 74 ft / 22m
    Loss on way in:74 ft / 22 m
    Distance:5.1 mi / 8.2 km
    Start Trailhead:Cabresto Lake parking  9238 ft / 2815 m
    Time:3 Hours 41 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:34 ft / 10 m
    Gain on way out:34 ft / 10 m
    Distance:4.9 mi / 7.9 km
    Time:2 Hours 15 Minutes

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