|Grays and Torreys|
One of the epic Colorado climbs I have wanted to do has been the Tenmile Traverse. To complete this traverse you begin in the town of Frisco, climb to the first peak of Mount Royal, then follow the ridge south till reaching Peak 10 in Breckenridge. If you are able to complete this traverse you will have summited 12 peaks of which 4 are ranked peaks, gained over 8,000 feet in elevation, and trekked about 16 miles. To make this task a bit more difficult, from Tenmile Peak to Peak 4 is all class 3 climbing.
On Friday evening we made our way to Breckenridge just as the sun was setting. We had to park one vehicle up on the Breckenridge ski hill so we wouldn’t have an additional 3 mile hike down a dusty road into town at the end of the climb. Peak 9 Restaurant is where most people park a vehicle. To get there, make your way to the Beaver Run complex. Take Village Road off of HWY 9 in Breckenridge, and pull into the large parking lot on the south side of the road. Make your way through the parking lot and find the entrance onto CR 751 which is a dirt road near the chair lifts. Form here it’s about 3.5 miles to the restaurant. Stay on the main road, near the stables area stick to the right. We drove another half mile past the restaurant because I didn’t want to leave a vehicle parked there overnight. There are a few pull-offs further up the road that work for parking. You don’t need 4WD, but high clearance would be preferred especially if you are planning to drive past the restaurant.
|Sunrise on Mount Royal|
After we dropped of Cole’s rig we made our way back down to Frisco. We ended up camping for the night near the Rainbow Lake TH. We had just barely crossed the boundary into the national forest so we weren’t squatting on private land. This was a busy area, but it worked in a pinch and it was free.
We woke up at 4am and made our way to the TH for the start of the adventure. I’m not positive what the TH is called that we started from, but if you take 2nd Avenue to its southern most point it ends at the TH. There is no overnight camping or parking allowed here, which is why we had to camp in a different location. We arrived about 4:45am, and were soon on the trail under the cover of darkness.
The first peak, Mount Royal, is a steep introduction to how the morning would progress. In about a mile and a half you climb nearly 1,400 feet. This is a dusty steep trail, but it gets you up the mountain pretty quick. Just before 6am we hit the summit of Royal. Unfortunately, this summit is covered in the trees, so there wasn’t a great view of the sunrise, but we knew it was happening out there somewhere. From Royal there is a climbers trail that runs around the northwest side of the ridge, then climbs directly up and to the south before hooking back up to the Peak 1 trail. This section of trail may be one of the steepest trails I’ve been on, there was plenty of huffing and puffing going on.
|Cole and Frisco|
The next peak was unranked Mount Victoria. It was quite a distance from Royal, and near the edge of tree line. There is a radio tower up there, then you gain a few hundred more feet and a rock outcropping will place you on Victoria. We took a good break here and noticed a few groups of trail runners making their way up the ridge. They were moving fast and carrying practically nothing. It seems that we are on a popular route and are were carrying way too much stuff. On to Peak 1 we went, this would be our first ranked peak of the day.
By 8:30am we were on the summit. We had ascended 4,000 vertical feet and were finally able to see most of the ridge composing the Tenmile Traverse. This would be enough to call it a day for a lot of people, but we were off to our fourth peak; Tenmile Peak.
We were leaving the alpine tundra and the landscape was tuning into more and more rock. Between Peak 1 and Tenmile the difficulty stays at class 2, maybe class 2+ for a few short sections, but nothing more difficult. There is a clear climber’s route through the rocks, so it’s easy to stay on route. Once summiting Tenmile Peak the conditions change almost instantaneous. We took some time on the summit to talk about the route options and even got some beta from another climber that had done the traverse a few days earlier. We figured it was time to keep moving so, we started dropping down the ridge in-between Tenmile and Peak 3.
As we were descending there was a steep wall ledged system that was covered with unconsolidated pebbles. This was less than pleasant for us. We took some time to consider our options, and after some thought we decided that summiting 4 peaks was good for both of us for today. Next we had to choose our descent route. Rather than climbing back over the roller coaster we had ascended I chose to descend a gully leading to a tarn below.
|The Tenmile Traverse|
This was not the best idea I’ve ever had, but we made progress down the steep gully and after a bit of butt scooting, we made it to the tarn and had some lunch. From here we got a full view of the gnarly ridge that crosses “The Dragon” on the way to Peak 3, it was pretty jagged, so I will have to come back for that at another time. We could see the Colorado Trail cutting across the ridge to the south, and decided that was our route back to Frisco.
We started cross country down the basin following the creek. It didn’t take long and we intersected the trail. From there it was a march out of six or seven miles on a heavily trafficked area. I would avoid this area, it’s loaded with mountain bikers and it’s a pain in the ass dodging them. We were both pretty spent at this point and were ready to be done. We found our way back to our starting TH without too much difficulty. It was so hot, we both just wanted to sit in the truck and crank up the air conditioner.
This route takes some serious commitment. We could have pushed ourselves through the ugly stuff, but it wasn’t fun at that point. Never be afraid to bail once you’re not enjoying yourself. Mountains are supposed to be fun, you are supposed to learn something on each trip…I learned that big appetites can soon be filled. I had my fill and was fine with how the day ended, and I look forward to my next trip.
This weekend I’m planning to climb in the Breckenridge area again, this will be my last training hike before Rainier in a couple weeks. I’ve been fortunate to get out so much with school, work and family…but soon things will change. Time to enjoy now. Cheers everyone, keep climbing strong and safe.
Date: July 16, 2016
TH Elevation: 9,100 feet
Mount Royal Summit: 10,485 feet
Mount Victoria Summit: 12,135 feet
Peak 1 Summit: 12,810 feet
Tenmile Peak: 12,930 feet
Total Ascent: 4,253 feet
Total Distance: 11.8 miles
Moving Time: 6 hours 1 minutes
Stopped Time: 2 hour 59 minutes