Ascent of Old Man of the Mountains on 2015-07-03

Climber: Daryn Dodge

Date:Friday, July 3, 2015
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Old Man of the Mountains
    Elevation:10710 ft / 3264 m

Ascent Trip Report

We originally had 7 people for this dayhike. But one decided to go another time and 3 others decided to go in the afternoon before and make it an overnight trip. So we had 3 to start around 7 am. Very little description of the trail to Cold Lakes and the climb itself could be found online. We mainly relied on a website called Ruby Trails for a description of the hike to Cold Lakes.

The drive to the trailhead is across private property. The best way to get permission to start at the TH described on the Ruby Trails website is to contact the local Fish and Game office. The other contacts on the website proved not to be useful anymore. F&S will contact the local landowner, or give you the number to call, so you can contact him yourself. He is a very friendly rancher who will give you the combination for the lock at the first gate. The other update needed for the website is the actual mileage driven once past the locked gate. It is about 2.6 miles, not 1.6 as indicated. Other helpful hints at finding the starting point is take a right at the junction just before the abandoned ranch buildings. Once past the third gate just past the ranch, it is one more mile to the TH. When you cross an irrigation ditch (with running water when we were there), you are only 0.1 mile from the TH which is alongside the irrigation ditch.

We parked off the dirt road and began the hike by crossing the bridge and descending to the trail-less gully below. Going up the other side of the gully, we ran across the trail which travels along the ridge. Turning left, we followed the trail as it circled around down into the next gully over and then up the other side. Soon we reached a trail junction that overlooks Cold Creek. We choose the right fork that dropped down to the creek and faded out before reaching the creek. The river was low, so we easily crossed to the north side to find the trail again, which was quite overgrown with grass. Walking east, we soon came across the only trail sign we saw all day. A trail junction, with the Cold Lakes trail pointing to the right.

We re-crossed the creek and headed up the trail. We stayed on the ridge in between the North fork and the middle fork of Cold Creek. The trail was vague in places but easy enough to follow. After crossing middle fork, and then recrossing to the north side again a little farther up, the trail disappeared in dense high grass, but then reappear in the trees. Our experience in this section was very reminiscent of that described in the Ruby Trails blog. Often just hiking through dense grass and a little brush, and occasionally running across what was left of the trail. Once we reached the big rock cairns, it became easier to follow the trail.

After about 3 hours, we found ourselves at the granite bench below Cold Lakes, and here the trail became quite obvious. But not maintained, that’s for sure. To the south of the uppermost Cold Lake, at 9900 ft., we found a gully that went up and left, and looked like it would take us to a saddle along the ridgeline. It was an easy enough climb of about 450 feet to the saddle. From there, we took a nice clockwise traverse along the ridgeline, to the first of four gendarmes blocking the final approach to the peak. The first was easily passed on the left (class 2), but the next two gendarmes required a little investigation to keep the climbing to class 3. The fourth gendarme was an exposed catwalk that went class 3-4. Some will want a rope here. Finally, we came to a minor crux point: a chimney about 20 feet high that could be stemmed to gain the summit block. Exposure is low but the chimney also goes class 3-4. Some may want a rope here too. Fantastic Views along the ridge and the summit! Afterwards, some of us went over to bag Green benchmark (10,831’). The benchmark was actually below the highpoint of this minor peak. The hike out was easier – we were better able to follow what was left of the trail in the overgrown areas. All told, about 14 miles RT, 4800 feet of total gain and 11.5 hrs.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4810 ft / 1465 m
    Extra Gain:300 ft / 91 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14 mi / 22.5 km
    Route:South Ridge
    Trailhead:Cold Lakes trail  6500 ft / 1981 m
    Grade/Class:Class 3-4
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
Ascent Statistics
    Time:6 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 

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