Ascent of South Boulder Peak on 2017-03-14

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:South Boulder Peak
    Elevation:8549 ft / 2605 m

Ascent Trip Report

Out of Towner has to pay $5 but I only had a $10 so they made out well there. Exceptionally warm day for mid March was 75F and got up to 80F at the parking lot although climbing up 3k the temperature at the peaks was in the 60s and with some breeze and wind chill. Still a beautiful spring day and all the snow and ice had melted off the trails to speak of and only places in the shade hinted at any snow.

The beginning of the trail system is relatively flat and well marked with good signage and well maintained trails. I picked the shortest combination I could figure - Parking to the Towhee Trail to the Mesa West Trail till it intersected with the Shadow Canyon Trail. There is a an old mining house or rest house at that junction. From there it gets steep fast and goes from class 1 up to steep class 2 type. Many places are just short of class 3 so call those 2+ but the county park service has done a great job of embedding steps in the steeper sections. You follow a dry creek canyon bed for more than a mile and I must say my bruised instep bone was aching walking over so many rounded rocks.

Down lower on the mountain was some impressive sedimentary conglomerate showing large nodules in the rock but at the top near the saddle between the two peaks there was huge pegmatites of pink feldspar everywhere indicating the higher layers of the mountain cooled very slowly from magma. It baffles me to think of super slow cooling magma on top of large conglomerate rock more than a thousand feet below. Need a geology buddy to give details of that historic sequence. I wonder if the conglomerate was volcanic conglomerate and not fluvial?

The Devils thumb is an impressive pinnacle that is seen from all over South Boulder and all along this fun hike. It would be fun to see the local rock climbers take on that bad boy. Near the top of the saddle a fire has burned out the woods and trees are falling -sometimes -over the trail. The final assault of the prominent peak is easy, and capped off with some minor class 3 opportunities at the very summit although you can get the top with essentially 2+ if you want - but there is some rock to play on the top if you like using your hands. The views over the top are very rewarding and well earned.

I was pleased with my time of 1 hour and 45 minutes to the summit (3.6 miles and around 3000 feet of gain) since that included stopping for water, photos, and checking bearings. Although I passed several people on the way up I was not passed myself. A good acclimation hike for me having come from the sea level today from my home in FL and rushed straight up to 8,500 feet with no issues. I was slightly slowed by the 11 to 18 % less partial pressure of air at the range of altitudes but really feel like I acclimate much faster now I did when I was younger. The humbling part of a hike like this is the incredibly fit local Boulder people that live for this type of training. Later in the day about 8 mountain joggers passed me on my way down as they were on their way UP. One young lady made the saddle and turned back and actually caught me and passed me on the way down. She was the only person to pass me all day as I was trying to move fast and get down before dark. She did not just pass me, she flew past me at an amazing speed and was wearing some shirt that said "Rocky Mountain Trail Running Team" or something like that.

It is always humbling when on one of your personal satisfying days when you are tackling a hard route in excellent time and some young super athlete blows by you with skills, lungs, and stamina that is about 250% more than you have. Inspirational to the maximum. I can not imagine how they can tune their bodies to the level that some of these people do. I feel honored when I am sharing a mountain with hikers/runners/climbers of those elite abilities. Fun to watch!

But before heading down, I did elect to go bag Bear Peak too (other TR)
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3014 ft / 918 m
    Total Elevation Loss:434 ft / 132 m
    Round-Trip Distance:3.9 mi / 6.3 km
    Grade/Class:1,1+,2,2+ some minor
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Breezy, Clear
75F snow melted out!
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3014 ft / 918 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2909 ft / 886 m; Extra: 105 ft / 32m
    Loss on way in:105 ft / 32 m
    Distance:3.6 mi / 5.8 km
    Route:Towhee to Mesa to Shadow Canyon to South Peak
    Start Trailhead:South Boulder Creek West Parking Lot  5640 ft / 1719 m
    Time:1 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:329 ft / 100 m
    Distance:0.3 mi / 0.5 km
    Route:Soth Peak trail to saddle
    End Trailhead:Saddle between peaks  8220 ft / 2505 m
Ascent Part of Trip: Denver-3

Complete Trip Sequence:
1South Boulder Peak2017-03-14 a3014 ft / 919 m
2Bear Peak2017-03-14 b346 ft / 105 m
Total Trip Gain: 3360 ft / 1024 m    Total Trip Loss: 3360 ft / 1024 m

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