Peak(s):  Engelmann Peak  -  13,362 feet
Robeson Peak  -  13,140 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2020
Modified:  08/14/2020
Date Climbed:   08/11/2020
Author:  pmetz
Additional Members:   Vadim34
 An even easier (?) way up Englemann   

Having read the horror stories of the four gullies leading up the W slopes of Englemann, I was hoping to successfully follow KevinK’s route description that leads to the very good NW ridge of Robeson. To me that sounded like the best way to get to and from the general area near the summits of Englemann and Robeson. Unfortunately, a couple of KevinK’s descriptions were a bit unclear/misleading (though I certainly accept MY share of the blame in not following his route correctly). A few waypoints could have been helpful, so I’ll include a few here.

I successfully located the end of the road (at 39.74152, 105.81693) as well as the right-hand trail as described, but KevinK says the trail “gains the hill above the mudslide and then cuts back up to the left.” I kept waiting for the cut to the left (west), but the trail continued straight south and wasn’t climbing. In the next sentence he says to “keep the gully generally to the left.” However, all I saw to the left was a steep hillside that is part of the NW terminus of Robeson’s NW ridge. He later mentions the route getting into the 4th gully (which is on the NE side of this ridge), but the trail was taking me farther along below the SW side of the ridge.

Therefore I turned around and headed back a bit on the trail and then started heading NE to work my way up along the right side of the 4th gully. Long story short: I then got into all sorts of nasty steep dirt slopes, loose rock slopes, thick bushwhacking, before finally getting to the “grass ramp” leading to the NW ridge of Robeson from the NE. (This is at about 11,780’ at 39.73909, 105.81359.)

I knew that the tricky route-finding was now over; all I had to do was turn left and head up the ridge to Robeson. As I started to do this, I heard something behind me, and looked down and saw another climber just reaching the ridge from the OTHER (SW) side. It turned out to be Vadim Belaiev (Vadim34) who, after successfully reaching the summit of Englemann, would need to climb only 10 more ranked CO 13ers to successfully finish the list of all 584. I asked him if he had any issues coming up from the SW, and said “No, it was very clear.” I asked if he’d be willing to guide me on the way down, and he very graciously agreed, which meant that we’d be teaming up for the rest of the day. We had a great time talking peaks, etc. for the next several hours. He indulged me as I zipped up Robeson before heading over and joining him on Englemann.

And now here’s how Vadim got up to Robeson’s NW ridge. He went up the same trail from the end of the road that I did, but he stayed on it as it headed south. It goes as far south as 39.73882, 105.81624 where it switchbacks left (west) and then goes north towards the cabin ruins KevinK describes. However, shortly after passing between two large cairns but before reaching the cabin ruins, Vadim left the trail at 39.73978, 105.81564 and headed uphill to the SE, avoiding a few tree islands and patches of loose rock along the way. At about 39.79931, 105.81480 he reached a point where he had to traverse left over a loose rock gully to reach the tundra slopes that would take him steeply, but easily, to the point on the ridge where we met.

The most important difference between this and KevinK’s route is that the latter’s route continues a bit farther on the trail beyond where Vadim left the trail, to the cabin ruins, from which KevinK’s route I believe continues north (and up) to hook around the end of the NW ridge and stays well ABOVE the 4th gully (as opposed to lower down in the 4th gully where I wound up). I can only assume that that would work well, too. The reason I would still prefer Vadim’s route is that it keeps you completely out of ANY of the nasty gullies.

KevinK also speaks of (and includes a great picture of) a solid trail that contours across the N face of Robeson leading to the Englemann-Robeson saddle. While it’s easy to spot this trail when descending from Englemann, the western end on Robeson’s NW ridge is not so clear. It’s found at 39.73577, 105.80757.

By the way, we parked at a good-sized pullout on the NW side of the road shortly before the Ruby Creek road (with the big avalanche danger sign on a gate) heads up to the left. This pullout (at 39.75470, 105.82425) has room for about 10 vehicles and apparently has the “approval” of the Urad Mine as our vehicles (along with two others) were neither ticketed nor towed.

Finally, thanks once again to KevinK and Vadim for their contributions to a really great route up Robeson and Englemann.

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Comments or Questions
08/13/2020 14:29
I swear, Vadim is a true mountain spirit. People just find him on hikes like this. Spectacular guy, I hope to run into him again sometime!

Re: Vadim!!
08/13/2020 15:32
Yup, I'm still amazed that I met him right WHERE and WHEN I did. If I hadn't I surely would have had to experience the same misery on the descent as I did on the ascent! And I would have missed out on meeting (as you put it) a "spectacular guy." I thoroughly enjoyed the time I got to spend with him.

Re: Easier
08/15/2020 11:43
On Thur 13th I was also up there looking for the "easier" route. What I did was to follow the 4th gully creek for about 100 yards from the end of the road at which point I turned sharply right trying to gain the ridge. It looked like if I stayed in the gully any longer it would just get harder to climb out of it. I did have to climb and pull myself up a very steep loose dirt/scree slope but it was short...maybe 20 feet high. After that, although I was still down in the trees I was able to work my way up and onto the crest of the ridge without too much difficulty. There even seemed to be sections of game trails here and there which I could follow. As it started to open up a little I clambered up over a couple of rocky sections and pretty soon I spotted the first cairn. Although it worked out okay for me and may have been easier than what you experienced going up, I think next time I'd look for Vadim's route. Of course, if I had gone a day later I would have seen your post and probably done that.

08/20/2020 00:50
Sorry that didn't quite work out for you. I don't use GPS and wrote that from the memory of my descent. Thanks for your additions and input. Ill add some extra notes and try to clarify my TR a bit to hopefully help others avoid your mistakes. For the record my route should be on a trail the whole way to that grassy ramp and also completely avoids all of the nasty gulleys. Sounds like you were just below it on that final push up the right side of the 4th gulley before joining the ridge

I think your main mistake was that the left at the top of the mudslide is probably only 20-30 ft in. It follows pretty closely back along the edge where the top of the mudslide fell out at the start.

In the next section through the trees just following the most prominent trail is the key. I do remember passing a few side trails but the one to the cabin seemed much clearer. You'll be traveling generally SW as you climb the hill towards the base of Robesons NE ridge.

Immediately before the cabin ruin look for the switchback that heads back N/NE around the base of the ridge. From there you'll enter the 4th gulley on an obvious trail well above the stream which will be down to your left. This trail traverses SW across the slope for a bit until it deposits you into the base of the gulley where youll see the grassy area and the easy ramp to the ridge.

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