Dyer Mountain trip report


OK, I just made up that route name, in honor of the Led Zeppelin song, which isn't pronounced anything like the "Dyer" of Dyer Mountain. But, I didn't follow the guidebook route, so I decided to be clever. Anyway, I wasn't feeling up to a long hike, and rather than hike one of the local Boulder foothills, I decided to do a short high 13er.

I drove up to Leadville, turned off onto 3rd Street just past the Kum & Go in the dark, and promptly couldn't find the turnoff for South Toldeo Street. It's actually pretty obvious, but there is no sign; it's shortly past some chain link fence on both sides of the road. This road is paved up to the entrance to the Asarco mine, but you have to turn off onto dirt before that. This dirt road is in great shape - the only issue is that there are a couple of small rockfall areas that must have to be cleared after any significant storm. Because the road was so good, I kept on driving past the trailhead given by the Roaches, and after an extra 0.7 miles I encountered a little parking turnout with an improptu sign pointing down the hill for the "Iowa Gulch Trailhead". There was room for a few cars to park here, and I could see some modern mine buildings just up the road, so I parked there. I didn't feel guilty at all about making this an even shorter day than expected! If I can easily drive my sedan up a road, there's no point in walking.

It was about sunrise when I started hiking up the road, but this is a heavily shaded valley by the ridge between Mount Sherman and Mount Sheridan. Shortly after starting, you have to leave the good road and angle left on an old jeep road to avoid the apparently active mining operation. This road makes for a good path up to a cluster of abandoned mine buildings up at around 12,600ft. (It was cold enough for ice skins on the small puddles along the old road.)

From there, I could see a little bit of a trail on the hillside to the left, so I angled up there and did an ascending traverse well below the high tension lines that run from Leadville up and over the saddle between Dyer and Gemini Peak. I crested this hill near the last power line stanchion before the saddle.

At this point, you are near 13000ft, with a good view of the east ridge with the power lines, and the south ridge. It sure looked to me from below and from the topo map that the south ridge was the more obvious route. So that's what I did, I hiked up talus to the south ridge, and then hiked up this ridge the last 300 vertical feet or so to the summit. It only took 1:17 to reach the summit and I wasn't really hurrying. It was a cool, but sunny morning, with about 10mph of wind. There was a register tube, but no official register inside. Just some paper with entries as much as a year old. I'm not quite sure why there would be a register tube but no attempt at maintaining a real register.

I decided to descend the Roach route down to the saddle with the "alien power lines". So, the route I'm calling "D'yer Maker" is going up one ridge and coming down the other. As I expected, this ridge wasn't quite as good as the other one. Just short of the saddle, I ended up angling down through the southeast face, and back to where I passed under the power lines on the way up. This appeared better than heading straight down near the power lines.

I spent a few minutes prowling around the old mine buildings. In one of them, I noticed that the walls were plastered with newspapers from 1979, so it hasn't been too long since these buildings were used. They are starting to get pretty run-down, though. From here, it was a very short jaunt back to the trailhead to finish my 2 hour 5 minute hike. This may be the easiest "honest" ascent of a Centennial summit in the entire state! (I.e., without driving 4WD high on a few peaks, or using the Mount Evans or Pikes Peak toll roads.)

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File last modified: 30 December 2004

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