With my 3-day vehicle pass still valid from my Spalding/Gray Wolf/Warren hike, I decided to go ahead and finish off my last 3 named or significant peaks above 13000ft on the Mount Evans massif. This one will disturb the purists even more than the previous one as I started the hike at nearly 13300ft and did 3 peaks not much higher than that altitude! The three peaks are strung out along a 2+ mile ridge that comes off the southeast face of Evans. This is the "road face", and I started the hike at the apex of the first major switchback on the final ascent of this road up the face, just above the saddle that connects these peaks to Evans.
The situation with Epaulet Mountain and "Epaulie" is sort of interesting. In reality, they make up a double-humped peak that does rise a bit more than 300ft above the connecting saddle with 14er Mount Evans. The two humps have official elevations of 13530ft and 13523ft and are about a half-mile apart with a 13380-foot saddle between. But, inexplicably, it is the 13523ft hump that carries the official name Epaulet Mountain, and the USGS map seems to make it clear that the name only applies to the lower bump. I suppose it does make some sense because this summit is closer to Evans and is more easily visible from there. However, clearly the 13530ft point is the true summit. Thus, the 13530ft summit, nicknamed "Epaulie" as a combination of Epaulet and Rosalie, is an officially ranked summit with its 300+ foot rise from the Epaulet-Evans saddle, while Epaulet is a (named) false summit of "Epaulie". It's quite rare to have the false summit named and the true summit unnamed; in nearly all the cases where the false summit is named, the true summit also has a name. I'm not sure of the history here, but I wonder if maybe the name really should apply to both bumps, or if earlier surveys had Epaulet higher than Epaulie.
The end result of all of this is that both humps are thus put on lists that contain all the ranked peaks plus all named peaks, giving the Mount Evans massif 9 ranked or named peaks above 13000ft (in descending elevation order: Evans, Bierstadt, Spalding, Gray Wolf, Rosalie, Epaulie, Epaulet, Rogers, and Warren). The western 14256-foot summit of Evans is sometimes nicknamed "West Evans", but this is not official and it only rises a bit over 100ft above its saddle with the main summit. The only other summit worth mentioning is a 13340-foot high point just southeast of Gray Wolf that rises about 200ft above its saddle with Gray Wolf.
As on Friday, I started the hike pretty much right at 6am. From where I parked, you have to drop down a bit over 100ft into the broad saddle before hiking to Epaulet. The terrain is easy, as it is mostly a grassy tundra punctuated by small rocks. There were small puddles of water strewn across the saddle, much like the saddle between Gray Wolf and Spalding. This time, icy skins had not developed, at least on the puddles I saw.
With less than 400ft to gain from this saddle on easy terrain, it doesn't take very long to get up to the large summit area of Epaulet. I worked my way around the west side of the summit plateau, hitting 3 rockpiles that I thought could be the true summit. I'm still not quite sure which one was really the summit, but I certainly did reach the summit no matter what.
Onward to Epaulie! The terrain remained easy as I made the short drop into the saddle and back up to another extended summit area with several high points. Although I did go ahead and hit several points, this time I'm pretty sure that the last point was the highest. This point is at the top of a distinctive pile of boulders, which includes a little "window" you can see through. I was less than 45 minutes into the hike and already had reached two summits!
Fortunately, Rosalie does provide enough of a challenge to feel more like a "real" ascent. The summit is only 45 feet higher than Epaulie, but you have to drop down to nearly 12900ft in between so the out-and-back to get Rosalie requires nearly 1300ft of gain. The first 200ft or so of contours below Epaulie look uncomfortably close together on the USGS map. Indeed, it is rather steep. Fortunately, it was quite passible and rather enjoyable, mostly on grassy areas and low-angle slabs that were just about perfect for my new boots. After this, the rest of the descent to the saddle and ascent up to Rosalie along a broad ridge is mostly Class 1 walking on tundra and occasional rocks.
I had a decent tailwind while heading southeast and then south up to Rosalie's summit, which I reached at 0722. There was enough of a summit cairn to sort of hide from the wind, but it was still a bit chilly when sitting still. I got out the Kestrel and somewhat to my surprise found that the wind was averaging 24 mph with one gust to 30. Interestingly, it really was coming straight from the north or north-northwest, a rather unusual pattern for a sunny day in August. Plus, it was a fairly cool 39 degrees, indicative of the relatively cool summer we've been having. The bulk of Evans provided more and more of a windbreak closer to the trailhead.
Due to the high starting elevation, the inbound hike took nearly as long as outbound. It was a little chilly in the headwind, but that diminished as I approached the wind shadow of Evans. My new boots did quite well in walking up the rock slabs near the top of Epaulie, and since I was so close, I re-summited the peak before continuing. I decided to hit a high point on the eastern edge of the Epaulet summit plateau, but it turned out to be more than 50 feet below the real summit. I finished the hike in well under 3 hours, but it was quite a nice outing.
To the chronological trip index
To the Epaulet Mountain page
To the "Epaulie" page
To the Rosalie Peak page
File last modified: 02 January 2005