Sunday, October 9, 2016

Pettingell Peak

Pettingell Peak and Herman Lake
We are now into October and it feels like an eternity since my last outing. I made myself a cushion with my school work so I could get a day out in the hills. I texted Cole and he was in. To keep the climb close to home we decided on Pettingell Peak. Pettingell is a mountain along the Continental Divide near the Loveland Ski Area.
The route we used is the South Slopes route from We varied it a bit in true “Karl” fashion, but more or less it was the same. I would suggest following our descent gpx track which is what has been attached to this report. The trail starts at the Herman Gulch TH. This is a popular place for hikers making their way to Herman Lake.  Take exit 218 off of I-70. At the stop sign at the end of the off ramp take a hairpin right turn down a bumpy dirt road. This will lead you to the TH. There is a pit toilet there if you need it.
We took the luxury of sleeping in on this trip. We met at 6am in Denver, and made the drive to the TH arriving just after 7am. The sun was starting to come up, so for this trip we didn’t need our headlamps. It was a brisk morning, so deciding on layers was a bit difficult. With winter looming over us it’s always hard to tell what you need. So, to be prepared I brought most of my cold weather gear just in case it got windy at the summit.
The Citadel
There is a trail that leads you all the way to Herman Lake, I would say it is just over 3 miles. We moved pretty well up the trail, but there were sections of ice through quite a bit of the trees. We had micro spikes, but never needed them. Just as we were breaking tree line we took a break to put on some sun block. It seemed to get a bit chillier, but that may have just been the fact we were feeling the breeze for the first time. I continued just wearing my mid-weight base layer top. As we crested a small hill that looks over Herman Lake the winds picked up and we both decided to put on our shell jackets. The views of the Citadel were pretty amazing from here. That is a truly rugged peak, and I looks like a technical mixed climb with the current conditions.
We saw the first two people of the day near the lake. The route takes you off trail at the lake and you make your way to the northern point where a rock field ramp so to speak will lead you towards the saddle on the western side of the summit. This section wasn’t difficult but it was tedious. There was enough snow in-between the rocks to piss you off a bit. Lower on the ramp the rocks were more consolidated which made stair stepping a good option, but the higher you get the smaller the boulders were and the more lose they became.
Me and Cole at the Summit
Take this ramp all the way to the saddle. Don’t get lured by the summit and climb direct. I know, because that’s what we did. The slope is fairly steep on loose unconsolidated rock. We found out on the descent that the normal route is pretty solid for the most part. Since we were on the “Karl” route we just kept trucking up the crappy rock till we hit the eastern ridge. Once on the ridge we had a couple hundred feet climb to the west to make the summit.
Just after 10am we were on the summit, so that was about a 3 hour ascent. You could probably shave some time off by taking the longer, more solid route to the west, but either way it’s not a bad climbing time. We were both shocked about how warm it felt on top. Cole never put a jacket on, but I threw on my puffy just because I had it. We cracked open a few summit beers, kind of a celebration for a solid climbing season. We both decided that cameras will never capture the true beauty the eye takes in while you’re in the mountains. This had one of the better, clearer views I’ve seen this year. I’m glad we were able to sneak this one in.
Pettingell from the Saddle
We probably took a half hour on top before we started our descent. We headed down the standard route and were both pleasantly surprised how much more solid the rock was. It seemed like we were moving down the rocks pretty quickly and within an hour we were probably back to the lake. The lake was overcrowded with probably about 50 people. We took a small water break before heading down. Along the trail loads of people were heading up to the lake, this is a hot spot I guess. We were in high gear, trotting in some of the downhill sections. Just after 2pm we were back to the TH.
This is a really nice climb. In the summer I would like to take the East Ridge route from the Continental Divide Trail and maybe add Hassell Peak. It would be interesting to do a Pettingell-Citadel-Hagar trifecta, but I’m assuming it gets pretty technical. Worth looking into anyway. Well, it’s been a good season of climbing, and all good things must come to an end (what a shitty cliché). I’ve got a busy schedule ahead, so I hope some of you get out there and climb and share your stories with me for a change. Cheers!
Herman Lake

Date: October 8, 2016
TH Elevation:  10,300 feet
Pettingell Peak Summit: 13,553 feet
Route: South Slopes
Total Ascent:  3,300 feet
Total Distance:  8.4 miles
Class:  2
Moving Time:  5 hours 35 minutes
Stopped Time: 50 minutes
Climbing Partners: Cole
GPX Track
Photo Album