Peak(s):  Mt. Blaurock  -  13,616 feet
Ervin Peak  -  13,531 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2020
Modified:  09/29/2020
Date Climbed:   07/19/2020
Author:  JQDivide
Additional Members:   bmcqueen, Tornadoman
 Ervin but Shockingly Not Blaurock   

20405_08
13ers Blaurock and Ervin from the ridge going up toward Ervin


Ervin, but Shockingly Not Blaurock

My plans for the weekend were up in the air. But Brad McQueen invited me to hike Ervin and Blaurock on Sunday. Once my plans finally solidified, I told him I’d join him.

Andrew Gagnon was also going. That was great. We have talked about hiking together for two years. When we were both about to finish the 58, we tried to connect on a few of the same peaks we needed. The schedules never worked out. Though we have hung out a few times.

Andrew was in the Gores on Saturday, and Brad had a family birthday to celebrate. I hit the Sawatch on Saturday afternoon for a sunset hike of Mountain Boy and Igloo. Then drove over to Winfield and parked near the cemetery to meet them in the morning.

Brad and Andrew were driving from Denver and said they’d be there around 7 a.m. Nice. I got to sleep in a bit.

They drove in. I jumped in Brad’s vehicle and we drove up the road a bit, just past the multi-directional sign post and parked. That put us near the slope that would lead us to Ervin first. It’s the slope on the right if you’re look up at the saddle.


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Finally out of the thick trees


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Mix of terrain on the slope


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Rock hopping


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More rocks


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Andrew on some rocks


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Blaurock and the saddle


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Andrew on the ridge/slope


It was a bushwhack. No amount of tree photos with arrows would show the way. Andrew kept an eye on his phone map and waypoints and led the way... UP HILL. It was all up hill. We passed a cabin at one point in the trees, nice looking place for a get away or hunting.

Up the slope, through trees and rocks. Saw several varieties of flowers along the way.

I was sweating. Like dripping sweat. The humidity was up a bit that morning and it kept it moist. There was also a bit of patchy cloud cover in the area.

Had to stop once to put on bug spray. Mosquitoes were out!

Once above treeline, it was a rock hop for a while. Then, it became real rocky, cracked ridge. Andrew stopped to put on his helmet. Helmet? I should have read the other TRs better. Brad said he should have grabbed his at the house when he saw Andrew had his. But Brad lucked out, as his helmet was surprisingly in his backpack. It was left in there from another recent hike. I put on sunscreen and ball cap just to have something on my head.

Up we went, weaving “in and out” and “up and down” the rocky Class 2+ slope. The Ervin summit was easily seen to our right. A summit cairn was some sticks of lumber showed the way. Soon we were at the summit ridge. To our left and below was the saddle to Blaurock. To our right, a fun scramble awaited us.


20405_09
Huron and basin to its trailhead


20405_10
Getting close to the summit ridge


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Class 2 rocky 13er



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Bit of low Class 3


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The summit ridge


The ridge proper goes, for the most part. We stayed high as much as we could. We dropped down once or twice to the right, but only for short distances. There were a few airy moves, but nothing above Class 3. Near the summit, there is saddle or gab in the ridge. We down climbed to the right, just before it. (Brad played on a high point, but didn’t need it for access.) From the gap, you could go up a gully on the right, or short gully and rocky patch to the left. They meet up just before the top.

After nearly three hours (2:52) we reach the top. On the summit we signed the register, took pictures of the surround peaks, talked about routes and summits we’ve been or wanted to be on. We grabbed quick snacks, but didn’t linger as we knew there was a good chance of rain today. There were some clouds building, but nothing very threatening (YET).

Back across the summit ridge, we talked about COVID and political views. The three of us differ on a lot of things, but we were able to talk about, discuss our reasons. Like real civil people before social media.


20405_16
Summit ridge stays a healthy Class 3.


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Stayed ridge proper most of the way


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Up and over


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Summit ridge, Brad's photo


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Summit ridge, Brad's photo


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Summit ridge, Brad's photo


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Summit ridge, Brad's photo
20405_19
Nearing the summit. Brad on a point we walked around
20405_20
Andrew picking the way up... both go and meet back up


Once back across the ridge, we descended toward the real saddle between the peaks. More rocks to negotiate. Occasionally there was a sign of path, but not more than a few feet at a time. During this time, Andrew talked to us about his move to Colorado, his current and former work, including his degree in meteorology.

Just 45 minutes from the summit of Ervin, we were at the 13,120 saddle (at the 3:37 mark). At this point, we realized the clouds were building faster than expected. But it looked like we still had time to reach the summit of Blaurock. Thunder in the distance, but nothing close.

Well, another .35 miles, 356 feet of gain and 18 minutes later, we had a change of heart.

My trekking poles shocked me!


20405_25
Looking back at the ridge from the summit of Ervin


20405_26
Centennial 13er Mt Hope and the ridge


20405_15
The Blaurock / Ervin saddle from above just before dropping down


20405_27
Dropping down to the saddle


20405_28
In the saddle


20405_29
Rinker and Twin peaks... are those clouds moving in? Getting darker?


20405_30
Heading up Blaurock


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Ervin and its ridge


20405_32
Brad and Andrew about to go over a small rise in the ridge, I'm about to get scared...


I had to think about that for just a moment. Did that just happen? Was I about to get hit by lightning?

I tossed my poles like they were wiggling snakes.

Nearly 20 years ago, I was standing 15 feet away from a tree that was struck by lightning. I'm not a fan of being that close again.

Andrew and Brad were a little bit in front of me, just on the other side of a rise. I started yelling and whistling. I scrambled up as fast as I could to get their attention. (Side Note: if you hear your partner yelling/whistling/etc. go check on them.)

I told them my poles just shocked me. I think it took a moment for them to realize what I said. They checked the sky. Checked the map stats on their phones. Could we make it? Was it worth it?

About that time, Andrew lifted his hand and stared at his forearm. My forearm tingled as the hair began to rise. This was no Spidey sense we were having.

“I’m done,” Andrew said and instantly started walking my way.

And just like that, 100 and some feet below the summit of our second peak of the day, we turned around. We still had another 1,500 feet in distance to travel on uneven ground to reach the top.

I was hesitant to pick up my trekking poles, but I knew I would want them on the steep slope, especially with wet rocks and grass. Down we went, as quickly as we could. Graupel started falling. None of us stopped to put on a rain jacket. (I wasn’t getting any more wet from precipitation than I was from sweating earlier in the day.)

Andrew’s pole shocked him. My pole shocked me again. If I raised the tip up, the pole would hum like a bee.

Positive Note of the Day and Advice for Future Hikers: We were very happy we picked Ervin to summit first. The slope up is much harder, rockier. The ridge to Ervin takes longer. And when racing a thunder storm the Blaurock ridge and slope made for an easier get away.


20405_33
Rain and graupel


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Moving fast, trying not to slip


20405_35
Rain and graupel


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Looking back up the slope


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Graupel as we near the tundra


Thunder banged about in the clouds. Rain poured near and far. We made it off the rocks onto the tundra. Yes, Tundra! Tundra is always better than rocks. (read my two previous trip reports). On the way up, Andrew mentioned he spoke with a SAR person that recently had two rescues with people that fell on a grassy slopes. And wouldn’t you know it, Andrew slipped on a rock in the grass. He was fine. But, worth a laugh later after we were out of the rain.

And remember me mentioning Andrew’s degree in meteorology? Yeah, about that. He was very observant of the clouds and weather today. But once we were in the upper treeline he said, paraphrased here, “I’m usually more conservative when it comes to weather. I think Jess (his wife) and I would have turned around sooner.”

“Well, why the hell didn’t you say something about that on the saddle?”

I think he realized Brad and I are taller, so we had the better chance of attracting the lightning. Or he really didn’t care about us.

Then I was honest and told them what I was thinking, if one of us was struck, I was hoping it wasn’t me. Not that I don’t like them. You know, just didn’t want to die today. They took that well. Nothing personal.

About this time, lightning struck near the Apostles. Thunder followed. We wondered how many people just shit their pants on Huron? Brad’s comment was, he would be mad if he got struck and killed now, near treeline, instead of on the summit. That would have been a waste of a retreat and a missed 13er.

We had some good laughs with these discussions.

We continued down the slope, into the trees and made our way toward the road. Brad kept us on a path the led in the direction of the LaPlata trail. Not to it, but general direction, in hopes of easier terrain and reaching the road.


20405_39
Nearing treeline and very happy about it


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The saddle


20405_42
Getting close to the road


20405_43
Still raining


Once we made the road, it was near a great camping spot at the base of the Grey Copper Creek drainage between Blaurock and Ervin. Up above was a good view of the saddle. There are lots of good camping spots on this road. This probably would have been a better place to park for the loop hike, or if you just wanted to go up and down the Blaurock ridge/slope.

Back at the vehicles we split ways. They headed back to Denver. I changed into dry clothes and shoes. Spent some time eating my lunch I never got to eat on the summit of Blaurock.

The storm not only chased us off the peak, but it quickly scratched Blaurock off our lists of peak priorities. It’s only ‘one’ peak now, though ranked. But that slope is no fun and there are better routes to pick from. Though several friends said they want to grab them. We’ll see what happens.


20405_44
The saddle from the road, a nice open area with a good camping spot in the trees



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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44


Comments or Questions
9patrickmurphy
User
Nice
07/21/2020 20:07
Excellent title, and really good storytelling! I'll definitely make sure to hit Ervin first when I get around to these two, I like a quicker, easier descent...


doggler
User
Ervin
07/22/2020 08:37
You're right about Ervin first...much more work to get up and through that longer-than-expected ridge.

I was fortunate enough to summit Blaurock too, but I had a pretty sketchy moment on the descent where I involuntarily went surfing for about 10-20 feet, cut myself up pretty good. Left a bitter taste in my mouth for sure.


Jay521
User
Lightning is no joke...
07/22/2020 10:38
... as you certainly know. And apparently Andrew is better with tornadoes than lightning? LOL!

As always, a great report with wonderful pics. Both your writing style and photographic abilities are better than mine. Please keep these reports coming, Joel.


JQDivide
User
Better to be at home?
07/22/2020 12:07
Hey Jay... just think, you could have been up there with us, if you didn't already have plans for Sunday. Maybe you should thank your wife for setting your schedule that day.
Joel


Tornadoman
User
Turn around
07/22/2020 13:23
Alone or with my wife I probably just turn around after Ervin. Maybe the male ego with other men leads to more risk? I certainly didn't want to vocalize too much concern over a moderate display of cumulus and then have the clouds not turn into anything. They certainly did develop fast this time! Anyway, we lived to hike another day, and hopefully storms will wait until afternoon instead of 10:30 am!


JQDivide
User
develop fast
07/22/2020 13:32
Andrew,
We certainly weren't the only ones this day to deal with that quick build up.
And like you said, "treeline seems so far way when you're above 13K."
At least we finally got one summit together!


Mtnman200
User
Nice report & photos
07/24/2020 07:35
Getting shocked by your trekking poles reminded me of the time my glasses started buzzing on El Diente many years ago. I definitely didn't enjoy it!

I recall Ervin being a bit of a slog, with Blaurock being a lot more fun, so I think you picked the right peak to do first. Blaurock makes for a nice spring climb, BTW.



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