Peak(s):  Tijeras Peak  -  13,604 feet
Music Mountain  -  13,380 feet
Date Posted:  08/25/2020
Modified:  08/26/2020
Date Climbed:   08/22/2020
Author:  JQDivide
Additional Members:   bmcqueen
 Music Needs A Playlist   

Tijeras Peak, Music Mountain and Milwaukee Peak from Music Pass

Tijeras Peak and Music Mountain

Well, with a name like Music, I guess you need a playlist…

  • Track 1: Van Morrison, Too Long In Exile (every playlist needs that when you escape the COVID shutdown)

So many climbing days begin with that call or text from your regular partners.

“What plans do you have for the weekend?”

Or specifically for this trip, “Any interest in some Sangres 13ers this weekend?”

Who can say ‘no’ to that?

  • Track 2: Grace Potter, That Phone
  • Track 3: Steely Dan, Ricky Don’t Lose That Number

Brad was eyeing Tijeras and Music. Those were two peaks I had not heard of before. I did a quick glance at some TRs. And Music had an actual route description.

Sure why, not. Let’s go south and maybe avoid some of the heavier smoke.

We met in Westcliffe for dinner at Tony’s on Friday. The sky was smoky even this far south. We had to wait on a to-go order for our lunch on Saturday. Should have done that when we ordered our dinner. Then drove to the TH.

  • Track 4: Deep Purple, Smoke on the Water
  • Track 5: John Hiatt, Drive South (you C&W fans can listen to Suzy Bogguss)

View of Tijeras from the lake

View of Music from Lower Sand Creek Lake

Road was fine until the campground, then it turned a bit rough after that. Stock 4x4s and Subarus will not have any major problems, a pretty good mix of vehicles at the TH. But watch out for sharp rocks. We helped a guy change a tire at the TH. Plenty of spots (drainage areas) to pull off to let other vehicles pass on the upper narrow road. I was surprised at the number of vehicles at the TH, probably 30. But we didn’t see that many people on the trail. It was dark by the time we got there, we pulled in and went to sleep.

  • Track 6: Sheryl Crow, Everyday is a Winding Road
  • Track 7: Needtobreathe, Drive All Night

We were up before the sun and on the trail just after 5 a.m. The weather forecast was pretty good with just a slight chance of some rain. The real weather issue was the smoke from all the fires. I did an evening hike of Sherman the week before and got a headache. Brad mentioned his lungs were feeling the smoke. We knew to keep an extra sense about our bodies this day, just to make sure we were feeling good.

  • Track 8: Needtobreathe, Don’t Wait For Daylight
  • Track 9: Needtobreathe, Through Smoke

Bushwhacking above the lake

Smoky morning

Up and over Music Pass, then down to the creek crossing and we took off our head lamps. Near the creak an outfitter had a camp set up with three large white canvas tents and a couple bathroom or shower tents. But we saw no one at the camp this morning, or on the way out.

  • Track 10: Norah Jones, Sunrise
  • Track 11: Eagles, Tequila Sunrise

The trail moved into the trees and rose a little as it switched back to Lower Sand Creek Lake. (about 1:30 to reach the lake) We took a brief stop at the lake for a photo and to gawk at the poorly hung bear bag that rested just about torso high on a tree along the trail. Not only was this bad execution of “how to,” but it could put someone else in danger if it attracted a bear.

  • Track 12: Derek & The Dominos, Snake Lake Blues

Poorly hung bear bag at the lower lake right on the trail.

The trail followed along the edge of the lake going north. We followed it to a waterfall. At this point, we realized we had passed the GPX route that goes up toward Music. We didn’t notice another trail.

  • Track 13: TLC, Don’t Go Chasing Waterfalls (yeah, I know, but it’s really a tribute to Umbrella Academy)

Following a faint trail toward Tijeras

Hiking up the grassy slope to the shelf below the cliff wall

Slope has some boulders, willows and grassy spots

This trail went up the side of the waterfall and kept going… so why not follow. We did, and continued following this trail. A bit sporadic at times, but if you stopped and looked, you could find it. (maybe not in the dark).

  • Track 14: Cyndi Lauper, Time After Time, (sing it and you’ll get it)

We kind of tried to find the other route, but this trail was working. We moved around and above the lake to its NW edge, then turned a bit north and moved up. We could start to see the basin between the two peaks and gave up on finding the other route. We headed toward the wall below Tijeras. The grassy slopes remind us of the slope to gain Bierstadt’s east ridge when you do the Tour d’Abyss. Just toss in some willows and a few more boulders and you got it.

  • Track 15; REO Speedwagon, Blazin’ Your Own Trail Again

Now, if you only followed our GPX track, you would have thought we knew exactly what we were doing from the being. As we bushwhacked our way to the cliff wall, we came up pretty close to the “left” ramp that people use. The cliff wall was impressive to look at from the ground.

  • Track 16: Pink Floyd, The Wall
  • (I immediately removed John Mellencamp and Tom Petty from the playlist. The wall needed to stay up.)

Just below the cliff wall

Brad moves into the 'left' ramp we took to climb the cliff wall

We took a break in the boulders below the ramp. Ate some snacks. Put on sunscreen and helmets. (We started the ramp about the 2:05 mark)

The hardest move of the ramp and Tijeras, was the first obstacle. A nice large slab with a few cracks and footholds. There were not a lot of holds, but enough, and you had to trust the friction of your shoe soles. Hard Class 3? Easy C4? What I can say is that there was an old belay station set up just above this section. So the down climb might be a questionable move, but probably doable.

  • Track 17: Maroon 5, Moves Like Jagger

The hardest move on Tijeras was the first move in the ramp

Moving up the ramp

Starting the ramp

Coming out of the top of the ramp

The rest of the ramp was C2 to C3. A nice scramble up. The rocky ramp soon gained some grass and was a mix. The exit was mostly grass and dirt. Though the final move out had no handholds on the rock. I learned a new climbing term: mantle. Little did I know I executed a mantle move without knowing it to get out. Brad mentioned it afterward.

There were several cairns in this area, I am guessing for those that wanted to down climb this section instead of climbing the ridge to Music Mountain. (Out of the ramp at the 2:40 mark)

And now for nearly 1,000 feet of suck. Boulder hopping. Boulder hiking. Boulders. And more boulders. I guess there are worse slopes. And the boulders did stay in place for the most part. Just keep your balance and head toward the top and the north face of Tijeras.

  • Track 18: Bob Segar, Like A Rock
  • Track 19: Scorpions, Rock You Like a Hurricane

Grassy slope before all the boulders

Boulders. Lots of boulders.

Brad in the gully 150 feet below the summit

Getting to the top, well, there looks like several options. Pick the option you like best. We selected the second gully from the right, or the second gully from the NW ridge. The first gully had some snow. Might have been able to go around it, might not. But, guessing how climbable this face is, we probably could have. The second gully, was larger and wider. Had a large rib on the left, probably a fun climb, and a smaller rib that separated it from the snowy gully on the right. Also had a smaller rib or bulge in the middle. It all looked like Class 3 fun. (3:30 mark)

But it was short, only like 200 feet to scramble to the summit. This section, probably had the loosest rocks of the day, but there weren’t that many. Neither one of us took any photos while climbing this quick section.

  • Track 20: Van Halen, Top of the World

We hit the Tijeras summit at about 8:50 a.m. (3:45 mark). The sky was smoky in all directions. We could still see the closer peaks, but it all got hazy the greater the distance. Saw some familiar names on the registry. Got a snack and some photos.

  • Track 21: Grateful Dead, Sitting on Top of the World

Crestones, Music, Humboldt

Summit views

Summit views to the south

Summit views

We decided to go down the NW ridge, a direct route to Music. It was pretty mellow, mostly C2, but a few C3 moves, including one to get on the upper bump in the ridge. Then it was a tedious rocky ridge walk over to Music. Nothing hard, just watching your foot placement. Except for its “bi-centennial” ranking, not much of reason to climb this one. A lot of effort for a short scramble. But, it was a great warm-up to what was about to come.

We hit the bottom of Music’s south ridge about 10 a.m. (5:00 mark). It looked a bit intimidating. Brad was thinking it was Class 3. Well, the standard route is C3. This ridge definitely had some Class 4 moves and a lot of exposure.

  • Track 22: Doobie Brothers, Listen to the Music

Brad makes a move on the bump in the NW ridge, we weren't sure if we could go over it, we did

Ridge to Music

Music Mountain looking inviting

Brad checks out Music's ridge

Looking back at Tijeras

The ridge was fun! A great scramble. The rock, for the most part, was solid. There were a few rocks that moved, so check each hold. But in general the rock provided excellent hand and foot holds making this very enjoyable. If you have read any of my other TRs, you’ll know I’m not a fan of exposure. I’ve had a few diva moments before moving up. But this route had enough solid rock, it kept the feeling of exposure to a minimum, for the most part. Though, any fall on this ridge would be very bad, probably deadly.

  • Track 23: Allman Brothers, Good Clean Fun

Brad led the first section. I led the second.

We talked about how similar this was to the Kit Carson’s North Ridge, if you stayed on ridge proper, as far as difficulty. But this route had a bit more exposure. And probably a bit steeper in sections.

Starting the ridge

Brad climbing the Class 3

My turn to lead

The ridge is kind of narrow

More scrambling

This was fun

Brad finished off the third section as the lead and we stopped and looked at the next section. How the hell do you get on the next section? Brad was happy to hand over the leading to me. I simply said no. This looked beyond my skill level. I don’t have enough ego to pretend I know what I’m doing when I’m over my head in climbing. Brad tried to boost my self-esteem, but that didn’t work. He claims he doesn’t like heights. He has better climbing skills, so I felt, strongly, he should lead this.

  • Track 24: Allman Brothers, Mountain Jam

The section started with an almost flat wall, no holds, that was at least chest high, if you stood on the rock below it. Brad felt around for a bit. I looked at the different sides. The rock instantly transitioned into a knife-edge like position. With some thought, Brad finally did a very bad imitation of the Alex-Honnold-El-Capitan-leg-kick-to-the-hold and he placed his leg on the lip and his toe against a depression in the rock.

  • Track 25: INXS, Kick

With his right toe on a questionable spot, he lifted and scooted his body over the edge. He laid on the rock edge like a lizard, and then shimmied up a bit to straddle the rock. He shimmied, scooted, and crawled up to a sitting position. Then with toes and hands, he moved up to a stable spot and turned around to see what I would do.

  • Track 26: Eric Clapton, Reptile

Here's the tough spot, Brad went straight ahead and kicked out to the right. He might have used that dark spot to his right for his toe hold. I climbed around to the left, just above that grassy spot and probably moved onto the section about two feet above his helmet.

“You can do it.”

I can’t remember if I actually said, “hell, no,” or if that is what I was thinking.

  • Track 27: Lenny Kravitz, Are You Gonna Go My Way

I also regret not taking any photos of Brad’s move. I was concentrating on what he was doing, thinking I was going to have to copy the move.

I stepped up on the rock, lifted my leg to the toe hold he used. There was no leverage in that. Nope. Not going to do that.

  • Track 28: Switchfoot, Dare You To Move

So now what? We knew many people on this route skipped the final ridge section and turned left into a gully to hit the summit ridge. There was a way down to the left at this spot. It looked a little steep, but would go. I didn’t think this was the gully section. So, I had to move up.

  • Track 29: Cowboy Mouth, Can’t Stay Here

The more I looked around, the rock wall on the left side of the knife-like-edge had some cracks and holds. If I moved up and left, I could get on this rock. And that’s what I did. I didn’t go to the left as far as I originally thought I would have to, and moved up and back to the right. Time to straddle the edge.

  • Track 30: Allman Brothers, Ain’t Wasting Time No More

Kicked my right leg over, found an iffy toe hold. Moved my body over the lip and there I was, like a kid mutton bustin’ at the rodeo, holding on tight.

  • Track 31: Gov’t Mule, Trying Not to Fall

I shimmied, scooted, and crawled trying to get up to a sitting position. But my inner pants leg caught on a small rock or edge in the ridge. I wasn’t going to move back down. I tried to move my leg, but I couldn’t (or didn’t want to) raise it high. What the hell, these pants already have a patch on the backside… I moved up and heard and felt the rip in the pants. It was worth it. One of the harder moves I’ve made in the mountains mostly because this rounded knife edge, slanted up, it's not flat like Capitol's sharp knife edge. .

  • Track 32: Keb’ Mo’, I’m Amazing

Mount it, like you love it, so you don’t fall off.

The knife-edge like ridge relented and we were back on our feet and hands moving up. We hit a high spot and Brad looked over at me and grinned. “There is nothing to see here.”

Then he rotated and down climbed a large boulder. I hate down climbing. He dropped below the rock and disappeared like a vole going back in its hole.

Well, crap.

The down climb was actually a controlled fall. The boulder was large and sturdy. Just hold on the far edge, slip over the near edge and carefully lower yourself. Just looked worse than it really was. Being tall has its advantages at times.

  • Track 33: John Lee Hooker, Ain’t No Big Thing

The 'feared' down climb, was much easier than it appeared

Now, we were at the spot where we could transition into the gully away from the ridge. So we turned left and moved along rocky and grassy ledges to reach the summit ridge. The summit, surprisingly, was still nearly a quarter mile away. This section was mostly Class 2, with a few C3 moves depending on your route. We passed the East Ridge, the standard route, and discussed the high points. The .com had the last high point to the north as the summit, so we made our way over to it. It was a scramble at times.

We reached the summit about 11:25 a.m., (6:20 mark, about 1:20 to climb the ridge).

  • Track 34: Van Morrison, Back on Top

Transitioning into the gully to get to the summit ridge

Brad checks out the views from one of the summit high points

Summit ridge scrambling

Hitting the summit

We rested for a few minutes, took photos and sent messages. The weather still looked good, but the smoke never went away. We didn’t stay long at the summit, maybe 10 minutes. The views like most of the state were hazy, you couldn’t see the horizon.

  • Track 35: Grace Potter, The Divide

Sand Creek Lakes from the summit

We followed the ridge back to the standard route and descended. Again, a bit tedious, but wasn’t hard. Class 2 &3 slope down to the “notch.” Took about 30 minutes to get from the summit to the notch.

  • Track 36: White Snake, (Take me down) Slow an’ Easy

Moving down the Class 3 standard route up Music's east ridge

Almost down to the notch

Moving down

From here it was a grassy/rocky slope down toward a dry creek. We followed the creek to stay out of the willows. We used the GPX track to find the main trail. We never did. The actual physical trail doesn’t exist. It’s just a route. We got back to the lower lake about 12:50 p.m. Quick snack break and finally took off my helmet. Also found a knife. Will be a nice treat if it’s not hexed.

  • Track 37: Bryan Adams, Cuts Like a Knife

We both needed water, but didn’t want to get it from the lake. We followed the trail back to the creek and stopped to refill and Steripen it.

Hiking back up to Music Pass was a bit warm, but not too bad. From the creek, it took about 30 minutes to reach the top, and another 25 to reach the TH. We saw at least a dozen people hiking in between the creek and the TH.

The entire hike was just under 9hr25min.

  • Track 38: Cool and the Gang, Celebration
  • Track 39: James Brown, I Feel Good

Tijaras and the cliff wall

Lower Sand Creek Lake and Music Pass

Looking back up at Music Mountain

Cliff wall and both ramps, we took the ramp on the left, others take the ramp on the far right

View of the route up from the lake to the cliff wall and Tijeras, ramp is visible on the right

A few more cars were parked, and one guy was changing a tire, that had a rip in the sidewall from a rock. We helped a bit and headed down the road.

I had a bit of scare on the way out. The road has a good bit of steep downhill at the top. I looked at my gas gauge and it showed a quarter of a tank. I had nearly half a tank when I pulled in last night. Did someone siphon some gas? I looked again and it was at an eighth of a tank. Did a rock hit my gas line?

I hollered at Brad and told him my gas gauge was off. Siphon or rock? He said his was low too. Another turn in the road and my low gas light came on, I was on “E.” There must be a break in the line.

  • Track 40: Wallflowers, One Headlight

Hollered at Brad again, told him I needed to pull over. The campground was close, but not close enough. I pulled into a large spot and turned off the engine. I wasn’t worried about the cost of a tow truck, but was guessing this was going to be a very long day. “Brad, did you have any plans this evening?”

I looked underneath the burb and smelled for gasoline. Nothing. I was confused. I started the Suburban again, and thought the gas pump would send gasoline out of a compromised line. Looked and smelled. Nothing again. I checked the gas gauge; it was back to above a quarter.

The slope of the road was screwing with the gas gauge, big time. I’ve seen that happen before, but not to this degree.

  • Track 41: Willie Nelson, On The Road Again

Anyway, the rest of the trip home was uneventful. Grabbed some gas and got on the highway. Though, I wish I had brought a fly rod to take sometime to throw feathers at trout in the Arkansas. I really like this ‘back way’ home instead of going through Colorado Springs and the traffic.

  • Track: 42: Tom Cochrane, Life is a Highway
  • Track 43: Robert Earl Keen, 5 Pound Bass
  • Track 44: Keb’ Mo’, More Than One Way Home

Final thought: I’m curious of the two spellings of Tijeras/Tisaras: my Gaia map had both names with different elevations.

It was a good day.

  • Track 45: Needtobreathe, Something Beautiful

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 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Comments or Questions
Gas gauge
08/25/2020 22:01
My old Chevy Silverado had a broken gas gauge, for the longest time I had to remember how many miles I drove to make sure I didn't run out of gas. Glad it was just a slope of the road in your case. Sounds like these two peaks offer lots of fun scrambling! Will have to add them to the list.

Excellent report
08/25/2020 23:18
That ridge to music looked a little exposed. What a wonderful place, great report and very complete photographic documentation.

Bear Bag
08/26/2020 06:59
I can't tell if that's a Ursack in the photo, but that's how you are supposed to hang a Urasck. They don't need to be out of reach from the bear, since the bear cannot get into them. Just tied to a solid tree (although that tree might be on the small side).

Bear Bag
08/26/2020 07:17
So, just tie it to a tree? Yep, that's what the Ursack website says... just checked.
A bear can't just rip that right off a tree?
The other issue is the placement of that bad along the trail next to the lake. Several other campers, fisherman and hikers are in that area, using that trail.
That's not a friendly move on the bag owners part. The smell can attract a bear and put other people in danger, even if the bear can't get into the bag.

Bear Bag
08/26/2020 09:00
The tree will rip before the cords will. Both the bag and the cords are incredibly tough.

You definitely should not hang them alongside a trail though.

08/26/2020 19:20
This looks awesome, Iâm adding it to my future plans

Missed You By a Couple Weeks
08/28/2020 14:45
Took my partner Steph up there earlier in the month since those are my favorite peaks and the closest ones to my house. Were there still any "Be A Better Human" stickers in the Tijeras register or did you take one? She makes those and tucked a couple in the register.

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