Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Witter, Eva, Parry and Bancroft Loop

Mount Eva
As I watch the summer fly by, I am starting to realize I’m not getting very many peaks in. I wanted to get out on something that would be off trail and would have options for multiple summits. I tossed around a few ideas and started developing a plan for the group of Witter Peak, Mount Eva, Parry Peak and Mount Bancroft. I had previously climbed in the area with climbs of Mount Flora and James Peak so I had a good idea of what to expect. After doing a little research on trailhead access, I was set for an early Saturday morning adventure.

I chose to mirror a route I found on The route starts from Fall River Reservoir and does a loop heading up to Witter then to Eva, Parry and Bancroft and finally descending back to the reservoir. From what I gathered the loop looked pretty straight forward and not too difficult for a solo outing. 

Witter Peak
Directions to Fall Creek Reservoir (39.819219, -105.689151): Take I-70W to exit 238, taking the first right off of the freeway onto Fall River Road. Follow this road for roughly 7 miles, then turn northwest onto Rainbow Road (39.804178, -105.641762). This is a dirt road that comes off of a large switch back corner from Fall River Road. Follow Rainbow Road to Fall River Reservoir. There is a fork in the road (39.815276, -105.677364) with about a mile to go; stay to the right. If you go to the left it will take you to Chinn Lakes, which could be a starting point as well if that is what you would like to do. I recommend a high clearance 4WD as the road gets pretty nasty in a few sections. Driving the dirt road portion is about 3.5 miles and takes about a half hour, so plan some extra time for the bumpy ride.

I arrived at the reservoir at 6:30am and the parking area was already pretty packed from people camping for the weekend. By 6:50am I was off on the trail that makes its way south around the reservoir. There are many small trails that make their way up to Chinns Lake; the one I took was around these coordinates: 39.819512, -105.691522. It is only a 5-10 minute hike to the first lake. Once I connected with the Chinns Lake Road I followed it around the lake to the south looking for a good point to start a traverse onto the east ridge of Witter Peak. I started up the first major clearing that I came across (39.815654, -105.694899), which was a large boulder field. The traverse across the boulders was simple and quick; I kept an eye on a grassy patch in-between the trees. Once on the steep grassy slopes I followed the natural path between the trees until tree line ended, and I was then on the open tundra just off of the east ridge of Witter Peak.
Witter Peak Summit

I was making great time gaining quite a bit of elevation. It was around 7:45am when I made it on to the ridge. Along the ridge there was one section of ledges which were very easy class 3 just below the summit. That would be the only real climbing section for the day. The summit was marked by a large rock cairn. I was feeling pretty good with the first 2,000 vertical feet behind me, now it was time to head over to Mount Eva.

The tundra hiking was a nice recovery after the climb up Witter. There was never any trail I could make out, so pretty much the entire route was cross country. At 9:15am I was on top of Mount Eva. This was only a couple hundred feet ascent above Witter, but there was a fair amount of distance in between the two peaks. Near the summit there was an old building that has been out of commission for quite some time, and I could see a few wind blocks made out of the debris. I just passed by it and went directly to the summit. From here the climb down and up Parry Peak looked like it was going to take some work, so I just kept moving.

Mount Eva Summit
The north ridge of Eva was pretty rocky unlike the climb up from the south. Once at the saddle between the two mountains the south ridge up Parry turned to grass. I started up and about halfway I was running on empty, so I took a short break and ate some jerky. That gave me a good pick-me-up and in no time at all I was on Parry’s summit. It was 10:30am, and now it was time for my lunch. Nothing like a good old PB&J with a bottle of Gatorade to energize my body. A cookie would have hit the spot, but I was good today and didn’t bring any junk food. The views from Parry were the best I saw all day. James Peak looks amazing from the southwest. I rested for about 10 minutes on the summit then got ready for the last roller coaster of the day leading to Mount Bancroft.

The ridge heading to Bancroft was the rockiest of the day so far, but easy going. A couple hundred feet climb from the separating saddle is all it took to get on my fourth summit of the day. It was around 11am and I only had my descent back to reservoir left. I would have been up for adding James Peak, but I had no desire to make the long trek back to my car after going out of my way for another summit. I knew it would be a steep drop back to my car so I can’t say I was looking forward to it.

Parry Peak Summit
The descent seemed like the longest leg of the day. There were some very large and steep boulder fields I had to make my way through that became time consuming. I wondered a little close to the cliffs along the ridge a few times and found myself traversing more boulders than I needed too. I kept to the ridge till I could see a main gully heading towards the parking area of reservoir. From there the terrain got really steep, but there were some game/climbers trails heading down intermittently. After dropping a few hundred feet in elevation I had made it back to my truck at 12:15pm.

Today was a beautiful day of solitude in the mountains. I didn’t run into anyone till getting back to the parking area. Those climbs are hard to find in Colorado, so I tend to really enjoy them a lot more. I love solo hiking and adventuring off the beaten path. With any luck I will get a few more days like this in before the seasons change. I’m starting to scout out a five peak loop in the Front Range that has a lot of potential.

GPS Track
Date: August 1, 2015
TH Elevation: 10,776 feet
Witter Peak Summit: 12,854 feet
Mount Eva Summit: 13,130 feet
Parry Peak Summit: 13,373 feet
Mount Bancroft Summit: 13,250 feet
Total Elevation Gain: 3,350 feet
Distance: 6.77 miles
Moving Time: 4hr 21min

Stopped Time: 45min

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