Mount Ouray

  • Mount Ouray
  • 4258 m.
  • Primary factor 810 m.
  • Sawatch Range, Colorado
  • Location North 38.42271, West 106.22475 (GPS on the smmit)
  • Climbed Noveber 12, 2017


How to get there:
Locate Ponch Springs south of Buena Vista on Hwy. 285. Drive 5.3 miles south on Hwy. 285, you will then see a signed side-road with (among other things) Marshall Pass. Take this road (also denoted Forest Road 200). The drive to the trailhead is 13.3 miles when measured from Hwy. 285. You fork right twice in the early part of this forest road, both locations are well sign posted.
The trailhead is on your left hand side, there are big signs as well as a restroom. Parking for quite a few cars. This location is N38.39494, W106.24751, elevation about 3300 meter
It is unclear to me if this road is kept open in winter, when I visited (mid November), the road had a partial snow surface, but it could be driven.
Route description:
One can get a pretty good idea of the route already from the trailhead. One need to climb what looks like a rounded hill (left in picture), then traverse a ridge that forms an arc, finally up the summit ridge to the peak (right in picture).
From the trailhead, hike back along the road, slightly downhill. A small forest road forks left immediately, continue about 100 more meter to locate a second forest road that forks left. Follow this road a short distance to a couple of buildings (small huts). From here, leave the road going slightly more right and head uphill towards location N38.40849, W106.24739, elevation about 3600 meter. This is the tree line.
Contine uphill bearing a bit left, until you reach the top of the ridge. The route is now obvious. Stay on the ridge line as it curves around in a wide arc, ending with a distinct summit ridge that ascends about 400 vertical meter to a distinct summit. The route is (YDS) class 2 all the way. The summit ridge is quite broad, while the more horizontal access ridge has a couple of slightly more narrow sections, however nothing difficult.
I was attending the 2017 Supercomputing conference in Denver. Arriving on Friday, this gave me a weekend for hiking before the conference starting on Monday. I drove down to Poncha Springs on Saturday in order to get an early start.
Leaving my motel a bit after 0600, I arrived at the trailhead around 0645. Daylight came as I drove the long forest road, with good early morning views of Mount Ouray.
I started out at 0700 and quickly ran into fairly deep snow in the forest. The hiking uphill with postholing was heavy work and I noticed that my breathing was far from fully acclimatized. Gradually, I came across patches without snow and hiking was easier.
I made the tree-line at about 3600 meter of elevation in one hour, not too bad given the snow. Above this, hiking was easier, but the air thinner. The snow was not an issue up here, a very thin layer if anything at all. The big arc of a ridge stiil required time and the wind was getting quite a bit stronger. I rested up at about 4100 meter, finding shelter behind some big rocks. I arrived at the summit at 1040. Fortunately, there was no wind at the cairn, still very gusty only a few meter away from it.
I enjoyed a 15 minute rest and took several pictures of the various mountains as well as the large basin below. The peak to the south, Antora, was really nice, I should climb it one day as well.
Leaving shortly before 1100, I was very surprised to meet a young man that came up the ridge. I had been convinced that nobody else would be around. Even more so, about 10 minutes later a second lone hiker came uphill.
Back down where the ridge forks, I decided to have a cliff bar for lunch and consider the option of hiking north along the connecting ridge to Peak 13472. It looked like quite a detour, most likely at least 2 hours. I should be back for dinner in Lakewood and felt that todays hike was fine as it was. Turning down the slope, the hiking in the forest snow was easier, it helps to have downhill. I was back at my car at 1330, so quite a bit faster on the return.
I drove back to Lakewood, arriving there around 1730, just as it got dark.