Mount Yale

  • Mount Yale
  • 4327 m
  • Primary factor 578 m
  • 21st. in Colorado
  • Location: North 38:51.000, West 106:19.000
  • Climbed April 29, 2001.


How to get there: Drive west 12 miles on the road that intersects US Hwy. 24 at the only traffic light in Buena Vista (Chaffee 306). The trailhead has a well marked parking area on the right hand side of the road.
Route description: The trail first climbs gently, then levels off into the valley along Denny Creek. After about 1.5 km the creek forks with one creek coming from Delaney Gulch (a small side valley to the north). Shortly thereafter there is a sign saying Mount Yale on a trail going off to the right. This trail leads into Delaney Gulch. As this trail reaches a more open, flat area of the valley, the route climbs more steeply up on the right (out of the valley). From this broad, south-west ridge one heads towards the north-west ridge of Yale to the left (west) of the summit. The final approach follows this ridge to the summit. The summit is a nice, gentle ridge, perhaps 50 meter long with its highest point near the middle.
As we did this hike in April with many parts of the route still having a thick snow cover, the following should be noted: We lost the trail shortly after heading for Delaney Gulch due to the deep snow in the area. We proceeded on the south facing slope further north, the advantage being no snow, however thick aspen forest. We avoided most of the aspen by staying higher, just above the dense part of the vegetation. Upon reaching the flat area of Delaney Gulch one should pick the route across the valley and up the other side carefully in order to avoid deep snow at this time of the year. The early morning crust supported us on open areas going up, we therefore headed up just north of (left of) a fairly distinct "small valley" with heavy spruce forest that extends up the steeper, east side of Delaney Gulch. When breaking tree line, we continued left and ascended a very distinct gully on good snow heading directly for the point where the north-west ridge and the broader south-west ridge converge. Later in the day, when descending, we followed the south-west ridge just passed this distinct spruce tree "small valley" and descended into Delaney Gulch on a small but distinct south facing slope where the snow cover was thin and partly already melted. The key is to cross the valley (where the snow may no longer support a hiker) on a short, open stretch.
Comments: I did this climb with my son Pål Jørgen, age 12. It should be noted that at this time of year skis would not be useful, as careful route finding makes this climb go on foot only, skis would only have helped in the small section of Delaney Gulch, however this section is short and we would have had to backpack the skis all the way there.
We started at 0615, hit the summit at 1100, left the top at 1130 and were back at the car at 1315. A beautiful day, with sunshine and good visibility, almost no wind at the summit, one can see the Elk, Front, Mosquito, Sawatch and San Juan Ranges all around as well as the Arkansas Valley and the large, flat area extending south-east. We were the only party on the mountain this last Sunday of April.