Sawatch Range photo gallery

The Sawatch Range in central Colorado contains 15 of Colorado's 14ers and I have climbed all of them, plus a few 13ers. The range can be characterized as having big, but gentle mountains. The gallery runs from north to south.

Mount Massive

Aptly named, this second highest mountain in Colorado has five significant summits above 14,000ft. I climbed the main summit and the south summit in 1995.

Here is a long view from near Leadville. The main summit is in the center with the south summit to the left. The summit on the far left is at 13,630 feet.

Here is a closer view of the main and south summits just after they experienced sunrise.

Mount Elbert

Not only the highest peak in Colorado but the highest peak in the Rocky Mountain chain.

These photos were taken in late September 1994 during fall color season with a 50mm lens. For the first photo, I was standing on Elbert's south summit looking southwest.

This photo was taken lower down, looking south. La Plata Peak's infamous Ellingwood Ridge leading to the summit is seen in profile to the right.
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Here is a decrepit mining cabin on the Black Cloud trail just below treeline.
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Nine years later, here is a shot of Elbert from US 24 just south of Leadville.

Casco Peak

A high 13er just west of Mount Elbert.

Uphill view from the Echo Creek drainage at about treeline. The summit is the point at the upper right.
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The view back down Echo Creek from the summit.
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Mount Hope

A high 13er near La Plata Peak, and worth the detour from the 14ers.

An old mineshaft along the trail to Hope Pass.

The upper portion of Hope from nearby Quail Mountain. My ascent route was the narrow ridge in the center. I glissaded down the snowfield to the left. This was in late June 1995, a very heavy snow year.

Here is a long view of Hope and the southeast cirque shown in the previous photo. This was taken from high in Missouri Gulch a few miles away.

La Plata Peak

This 14er is usually climbed from the paved road on the north side, but I highly recommend my scenic route from south via Winfield.

Although the weather wasn't really threatening (i.e. there were no t-storms until I was done with the hike), there were snow snowers in the area on my July 1996 ascent as this summit view attests.

Here is the pretty view down from the saddle between La Plata and Sayres Benchmark. You can see the trail on the left side of the frame.
La Plata down

Here is the even prettier view up to the saddle from the valley below. Once you reach the saddle you turn right and hike up talus 1 mile to La Plata.
La Plata up

Mount Belford/Mount Oxford

Although it now has a good trail all the way to the summit, a climb of Belford is one of the steepest of the hikeable 14ers. Oxford is usually climbed as an out-and-back from Belford in a long day.

However, to do both peaks in a day requires decent weather. That was not the case on July 2nd, 1995. Snow had fallen overnight into the morning along with high winds. This photo shows the summit of Oxford through a veil of blowing snow. Also note the mountain wave clouds above the summit. [You'll have to take my word on this; I seem to have misplaced the jpeg, so I'll have to rescan it sometime.] Shortly after this photo I measured a wind gust in excess of 65 mph.

One year later I came back and had better weather. Here is the view back at Belford from the summit of Oxford. Note the sneaky way I got myself in the photo.

Missouri Mountain

Sometimes Missouri is added on to a climb of Belford and Oxford, but that option is usually reserved for people who backpack in.

From left to right, Emerald Peak, Iowa Peak, and Missouri Mountain. This was taken during my successful ascent of both Belford and Oxford. Note the clouds in the distance; luckily these only produced a rain shower and not a thunderstorm. It was only 9:15am when the shower hit.
Emerald, Iowa, Missouri

Emerald Peak (left) and Iowa Peak (right) from Elkhead Pass. Missouri is off-frame to the right. Emerald Peak is a high 13er, but Iowa Peak does not have enough of a saddle drop from Missouri to rate as a separate peak.

A beautiful portion of upper Missouri Gulch from just below Elkhead Pass. Note that in a normal year, the vegetation isn't this lush and verdant.
Missouri Gulch

Huron Peak

When I climbed it in 1994, Huron was considered to be 14,003 feet above sea level, putting it in danger of being demoted to the 13er in a subsequent survey. But, in 2002, new elevations became available for the 14ers and they were all higher, due to a revision of the "geoid" height of sea level under Colorado. However, two current high 13ers, Stewart Peak and Grizzly Peak, were considered 14ers based on the earliest surveys but subsequently demoted, yet the newest numbers still keep them as 13ers.

I climbed Huron in early October 1994 right after a snowstorm. I shot this photo from somewhere on the 4WD road that leads to the trail. Ironically, although this is one of my favorite photos I have never been able to find a satisfactory identification for this mountain. [That statement is no longer true! A long-time explorer of this area made a convincing identification of the high point on the right as the recently named 13,531-foot Mount Ervin about a mile due north of Winfield. The nearby unnamed 13,616-foot peak is hiding in the clouds on the left. The photo would have been taken along the road somewhere near and below the Banker Mine. Thanks, John!]
Near Huron

A long view of Huron from Mount Belford.

Mount Columbia

One of the Collegiate Peaks, named after some East Coast university.

I forgot my camera on this trip and had to improvise with a disposable camera I bought at a convenience store at 3am. This climb was in June 1996.

This photo shows suncups on a snow slope above 13,000 feet.

The summit is only a few hundred feet above this 500-foot snow slope.

Finally, the summit can be seen at the top of that snow climb.
Columbia final approach

Mount Yale

Another Collegiate Peak, perhaps the easiest 14er in the Sawatch from normal car parking.

The final approach and summit. A couple of the specks on the snowfield to the left of center are climbers, but they didn't come out in the scan. July 1995.

Never forget that nature has her own clock. This "afternoon thunderstorm" photo was taken from near the summit of Yale at 10:20am. Fortunately for me, I was headed down; fortunately for the dozens of people on their way up that I passed on my way down, this storm missed Yale.
Start early!

Mount Antero

Probably more famous for its gem mine than anything else, Antero has a 4WD road all the way up to 13,700 feet.

Sometimes an early start doesn't quite work out. Here is the last section of ridge to the summit, veiled in a cap cloud. This cloud remained until well after I left the summit.
Don't start early!

Here is a long view of Antero from the east.

Mount Princeton

From the east, Princeton is one of the most impressive mountains in the state. However, an ascent by its easiest route is a simple hike.

Here is a long view from the approach road just off of US 285; the Chalk Cliffs are in the lower left (no, they are not really made of chalk). September 1995.

Here is a close-up showing the trail to the summit. The route follows the trail, then angles up to the horizontal part of the ridge in the center, then up the ridge to the summit.

Mount Shavano

Shavano is famous for having a seasonal snow feature that looks something like a 1000-foot tall angel with upstretched arms. I've climbed up and glissaded down the Angel four times. It takes about an hour to climb the snow, but less than 5 minutes to descend!

A long view from just off Highway 24. The summit is in the center, and the Angel in the gully below and left of the summit. This was taken in June 1997 which was late enough in the season such that her right wing was starting to melt out.

Here is a slightly different long view shot in July 1995 before the climb.

This is a view from just below the bottom of the Angel near treeline. You can see the weather has already turned at this point.
Bottom of Angel

And, a couple hours later, while driving out.

Here is a nice section of rapids along the trail. This is the creek that drains the Angel basin. June 1997.

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File last modified: 29 May 2005

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