Peak(s):  "Finnegan Peak"  -  13,346 feet
Gold Dust Peak  -  13,382 feet
"Pika Peak"  -  13,126 feet
Date Posted:  08/26/2018
Modified:  05/01/2019
Date Climbed:   08/07/2018
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   jbchalk
 Golden Days of Summer   


Date: August 6, 2018
Distance: ~ 7.5 miles RT
Elevation gain: ~ 4,300 ft
TH: Polar Star Hut parking lot

I've seen those peaks before from Mt. of the Holy Cross, but I really saw them when I hiked Mt. Jackson last fall, which immediately elevated them high on the "to-do" list.

Pika-Gold Dust-Finnegan from Mt. Jackson

I wasn't sure how far I could get up the road in my Subi, but it turned out the road wasn't too bad. I finished the drive in the morning and started hiking around 6.15 am. My first goal was a 12er "New York Mountain". It's a fairly easy hike up to that point. Past NY Mountain, I had to identify the gully to descend down to the New York lake. Thankfully, it wasn't difficult to find either. The gully is steep with a couple Class 3/4 sections (on the way back I took a rib to the right of the gully for more consistent class 3 scrambling).


Start of the descent

Class 4 downclimb in the gully

There was one more tricky section in the gully, but the rest of it was just steep grass. However, the ascent up Finnegan looked miserable.

Pretty clouds over the NY Mountain

Remaining descent to the lake with the view of the north face of Gold Dust

The ascent route up Finnegan was as miserable and tedious as it looked from NY Mountain - 2,000 feet of loose talus.

Finally gaining the ridge. The ridge got a bit more solid closer to the summit, allowing some Class 3 (optional 4) scrambling.

Gold dust from the summit. Register from 2012 is in good condition.

After a lengthy rest on the summit, I began retracing my steps. The only difference was that I decided to drop a bit earlier off the ridge. I think I picked a pretty good gully as it went, but I did slip and slide a few times, getting a couple bruises, but nothing too serious. Roundtrip of 4,000 feet of talus felt a bit much and I longed for the stable grassy slopes of NY Mountain.

Ascent line - left side, descent line - right side

Did I mention talus?

Gold Dust from the New York lake

Reclimb back to NY Mountain went as expected and I even found some fairly stable rock rib to the right of the ascent gully.

Hidden Treasure yurt - might be a fun place to visit in winter. After a lengthy stop near NY mountain for reception and making plans for next day, I finally made back to the car around 5pm, and drove to the Fulford cave trailhead.


Date: August 7, 2018
Distance: ~ 11 miles RT
Elevation gain: ~ 4,600 ft
TH: Fulford Cave TH

My original partner had to cancel for heath reasons, so I was happy to have Brandon join me for the day. He had climbed Gold Dust years ago, but didn't do a traverse. We started from the trailhead around 6.15 am. Brush creek is a very nice trail and we made a good time. At about 10,900 ft, we left the trail and followed some faint game trails parallel to the creek. Once we lost the trail, we crossed the creek and found the way through the cliff band. Ascent of the ridge was straighforward, and I got to the summit around 9.50, with Brandon some time before me. After a quick break, we started on the traverse just after 10am.

Brandon on the summit of Gold Dust, with New York Mountain and NY lake in the background, with Finnegan just out of the frame

Ridge to Finnegan

Brandon at the beginning of the traverse

After initial difficulties, the terrain mellowed out and was essentially class 2+ with occasional Class 3 move here and there until the low point of the saddle with Pika.

Brandon moves quickly through the terrain

Me downclimbing the Gold Dust ridge

After reaching the low point on the saddle with Pika, the terrain became more involved. We elected to bypass the first tower on the left, which involved upclimbing a class 4 dihedral with solid holds.

Climber's left side was more solid - photo by Brandon

Brandon on class 3-4 terrain on the ridge to Pika

Fun scrambling

Me on the ridge to Pika

Nearing the summit of Pika

After 1.5 hour on the traverse, we got to the summit, and Brandon even had energy to run over to the false summit to check it out.

At noon, we started the 2,000 talus descent down to Lake Charles. Although it took me "only" an hour, Brandon stopped twice to take a nap and wait for me. For the third stop, I found him bouldering on the 30-foot cliff by the lake.

After merging back with a trail, Brandon decided to run 4 miles back to the trailhead (as he still wanted to get to work), while I slowly made my way to the Mystic Island lake, admiring the views of 12er Fool's peak. I was told the North ridge of Fools makes for an excellent scramble.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Comments or Questions
Nice report, Nat
08/27/2018 08:47
Love the pics. Happy to join ya again for a fun little traverse

08/27/2018 09:35
Photos! Those peaks and basins look wild. I need to explore back there. Thanks for sharing!

Good write-up
08/30/2018 13:45
ah the memories or lack therof, thanks

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