Grand Traverse Peak (13,041') and Snow Peak (13,024')

25-26 Jul 2003 - by T Colorado

With the heat in the city, the need to get up into the coolness of the mountains was looming large. We (my husband Michael and our friend Don) picked a location close to Denver (near Vail) and left Friday afternoon so that we could backpack into Deluge Lake (in the Gore Range) for our climbs on Saturday and Sunday. We arrived at the trailhead and sat for awhile waiting for the rain (we call it the daily deluge) to stop. At about 9:30 p.m., it finally stopped and we put on our packs and headed up the soggy, wet trail. This trail is steep for the first couple of miles and then levels out a bit for the last couple of miles (and, after a good rain, can be a very soaking and wet experience for the backpacker due to the high ground cover and vegetation). By headlamp, we made it in quite a ways and pitched a temporary camp about midnight. On Saturday, we packed up and arrived at a beautiful campsite by Deluge Lake. We could not believe there was no one else camped in this fantastic basin ('course that backpack in would squelch the desire of some). Three 13'ers loom above you ... Grand Traverse Peak, Mt. Valhalla and Snow Peak. The wildflowers were abundant and the temperature was much nicer than down in town. After setting up camp and having some lunch, we headed up to Grand Traverse Peak (direct route west from the lake to the summit and descent via the ridge to saddle to the lake on the way back). It took a bit over an hour and a half from leaving camp to reach the summit (no summit register) and the weather was very electric and dark. Wish we could have stayed longer as the views to the north and west were jaw dropping. It took about an hour to get back to camp (yes, we did stop to doddle and watch the great lightning show), and we made it in our tents just before the daily deluge. The rain lasted until 9:30 p.m. What a great way to go to sleep ... the pitter patter of rain on the tent fly. The next morning, we awoke and headed up to Snow Peak (no summit register) which is accessed from Snow Pass. There is a trail to the pass (if you are fortunate enough to find it like we did). From the pass, the climb up the north ridge is straightforward and offers wonderful views of Buffalo Pass, Snow Lake, Gore Lake, etc. We descended back to camp (it was a bit over 2-1/2 hours roundtrip with breaks), packed up and hiked out. We will definitely be back to this basin to knock off Mt. Valhalla and take advantage of the solitude. Happy Trails!

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