Ascent of Bull Creek Peak on 2009-10-04

Climber: Phil Robinson

Date:Sunday, October 4, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Bull Creek Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:12170 ft / 3709 m

Ascent Trip Report

On the morning of Saturday October 3, 2009 I left the house at 4:45 AM with my 29 year old son Garret to hike peaks in the Latir Wilderness area in northern New Mexico. We had a plan A and a plan B. We attempted to go into private land, the Rio Costilla Coop Livestock Association, and camp and hike for a fee, yet we were too late in the year. This opportunity is only available in the summer. We went for plan B which was to camp at Cabresto Lake NE of Questa, New Mexico. The final road into the lake is a 3 or 4 mile, 4 wheel drive road. We usually backpack, but this time we decided to do drive-in-camping. We brought a big tent and lots of big equipment. It felt funny after ultralight backpacking. We set up camp and hiked around the beautiful lake. Garret forgot his fishing equipment so he improvised with some string and hooks he found. He fished, got some bites, but did not catch anything. For dinner Garret cooked a roast and veggies, in a Dutch oven, over the coals. It was excellent!
The morning of the October 4th we set out, thinking we would hike 4, at most, maybe 6 peaks. I had a 12 pound pack including 4 pounds of water, food and emergency gear. Our starting elevation was 9200 feet. The temperature was about 40 degrees. The day before it was perfectly clear, as we hiked we could see that the mountain peaks were covered with clouds. We left camp at 8:00 AM after having just coffee and followed the canyon that fed the lake. Several miles up, we turned onto Bull Creak trail and headed to the ridgeline. It was a fairly easy assent and we reached the ridgeline at about noon after hiking 4.6 miles. The clouds had now mostly cleared out. The first peak that we planned to hike was Venado peak, but I decided to hike the ridgeline and do Peak 12,550. This is listed as an unmarked peak in the book Mountains of New Mexico. I then did another unlisted peak very close by. It was a 12,500’ small rock peak that you had to scramble to the top. I then headed towards Venado peak and arrived there at 1:45 after traveling 7 miles. The elevation of Venado peak was 12,734. The views were beautiful. We debated doing Virsylvia peak but decided to do that another time. We descended the mountain and headed towards Cabresto peak. It was a fairly easy hike and we arrived there at 3:20 after hiking 8.9 total miles. The elevation was 12,448. We took pictures, admired the views, make a few phone calls to loved ones. (The phones only work on the mountain tops.) I decided to hustle ahead of Garret and try to get in an extra peak. Garret’s knees were bothering him so he planned to do just one more. I headed towards Bull Creak peak. I was full of energy until it came to this peak. It was a real strain going down, then going up, then going down, then going up to catch Garret. I really felt it, burning legs and all. As I hiked up to Bull Creak peak I saw 4 big horn sheep. I got some good pictures of them. I arrived at Bull Creek at 4:20 after hiking 10 miles. The elevation was 12,170. By the time I caught up with Garret, at the top of Peak 12,456, Cabresto Sur Este, it was 5:10 and I had hiked 11 miles. We had scouted a “short cut” back to the lake. We planned to follow the ridgeline, mostly due south, to the lake. Our GPS said that it was 1.7 miles as the crow flies. The plan was to follow this ridgeline to the lake and our camp. It was a very rocky jagged ridgeline. It was not dangerous but difficult to cross. We had to maneuver along loose rocks and a difficult ridge. When we made it back to the tree line it was no less easy, with logs to cross and twisting in and out of the woods as it was getting progressively darker. We knew that we were going to come into camp in the dark. With all the logs and twisting and turning in the twilight it was very hard on Garret’s knees. Towards the end of our hike, as the almost full moon was coming up, we pulled out our flashlights and made it the rest of the way to camp. We had hiked about 12 miles in 11 hours and 45 minutes. I was tired, but had to hike down to the lake to pump water. When I returned Garret had a campfire going. We got the coals red hot and cooked T-bone steaks. The next morning we packed up early, had sausage and eggs, and left camp at 8:30 AM for a 3 and a half hour drive home.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:420 ft / 128 m
    Total Elevation Loss:330 ft / 100 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Tent Camp
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:420 ft / 128 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 90 ft / 28 m; Extra: 330 ft / 100m
    Loss on way in:330 ft / 100 m
    Route:Cabresto Lake to Bull Creek Trail
    Start Trailhead:Cabresto Saddle  12080 ft / 3681 m
Descent Statistics
Ascent Part of Trip: Cabresto Lake Base (2 nights total away from roads)

Complete Trip Sequence:
1Venado Peak2009-10-04 a3971 ft / 1210 m
2Peak 125502009-10-04 b 
3Cabresto Peak2009-10-04 c796 ft / 243 m
4Bull Creek Peak2009-10-04 d420 ft / 128 m
5Peak 124562009-10-04 e596 ft / 182 m
Total Trip Gain: 5783 ft / 1763 m    Total Trip Loss: 1505 ft / 458 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Phil Robinson
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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