Peak(s):  "Pk Twenty One" - 13,085 feet
Emerson Mtn - 13,140 feet
Organ Mtn B - 13,032 feet
Amherst Mtn - 13,165 feet
"Pk Twenty Two" - 13,105 feet
Sheep Mtn D - 13,070 feet
Sheridan Mountain - 12,795
Point 12,442
Endlich Mesa - 12,490
Crevasse Benchmark - 12,311
Date Posted:  04/21/2021
Date Climbed:   09/06/2020
Author:  supranihilest
Additional Members:   whileyh
 Endlich Echos: Harvesting Organs   

Table of Contents

Sunday, September 6, 2020: Day 2 - "Peak Twenty One", Emerson Mountain, Organ Mountain B, Amherst Mountain, Sheep Mountain D, Sheridan Mountain (12,795'), Point 12,422
-- Day 2 Statistics
Monday, September 7, 2020: Day 3 - Endlich Mesa Deproach: Point 12,470, Endlich Mesa (12,490'), Crevasse Benchmark (12,311')
-- Day 3 Statistics


Sunday, September 6, 2020: Day 2 - "Peak Twenty One", Emerson Mountain, Organ Mountain B, Amherst Mountain, Sheep Mountain D, Sheridan Mountain (12,795'), Point 12,422

After a good night's sleep Whiley and I awoke late. We scarfed down our breakfasts, gathered water, and began once again with a casual start - 9:45am. We knew today was going to be the biggest and hardest day on the trip, but with bluebird weather we weren't worried. We headed north on the Endlich Mesa Trail, then instead of taking it up Crystal Valley like the day before, we left the trail northeast to avoid cliffs and steep terrain, and then headed east once we were past it.

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Most of our day today; Amherst Mountain on the far left and "Peak Twenty One" left of center. The remaining "peaks" aren't actually peaks.

Our hike took us past a charming and beautiful drainage from the north, and continued up grassy slopes littered in granite boulders, blocks, and slabs.

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Unnamed creek draining Castilleja Lake and several other unnamed lakes. Photo: Whiley H.
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Now that's some rock!

Some of the gullies and depressions that rolled across the hillside were a bit funky to cross, either requiring some route finding and/or scrambling, or just being choked with broken rock, but we didn't encounter anything too difficult and soon found ourselves underneath "Peak Twenty One"'s south slopes, which we attacked head-on.

20955_04
Looking up "Peak Twenty One". There's a big ol' granite dome under there, I reckon.
20955_05
Sheep Mountain D from the valley south of "Peak Twenty One". Photo: Whiley H.

"Twenty One"'s south slopes were a mix of grassy little plants and decomposed granite gravel, not entirely nice to hike up.

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"Peak Twenty Two" and Sheep Mountain D. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_07
Bizarro world. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_08
The foreground peak isn't anything, but after doing all of our thirteeners we would eventually make our way to Sheridan Mountain (12,795') in mid-left. Photo: Whiley H.

The summit of "Peak Twenty One" came quickly and went just as quickly. We marched over to soft-ranked thirteener, Emerson Mountain, less than 15 minutes away.

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Amherst Mountain and Emerson's funky summit blob.
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Emerson Mountain, "Peak Twenty Two", and Sheep Mountain D.
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Amherst's gnarly looking south ridge. Photo: Whiley H.
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Behold! Emerson Mountain! Ok, it's not really that cool.
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Mushy granite ball bearings everywhere. Photo: Whiley H.
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Summit of Emerson, which drops sharply to the east. Photo: Whiley H.

From Emerson our next two peaks, Amherst Mountain and Organ Mountain B, were dead obvious and rather far away.

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Amherst and Organ B. The peaks of the Rock Creek area are farther right across Vallecito Creek.

We hiked down to the saddle between Emerson and "Peak Twenty Two", continuing northeast down a trail that cut across the slope east of Emerson and Amherst. The trail isn't marked on maps so it must be a game trail. The initial section is steep and loose gravel with some messy switchbacks, but once below all the cliffs it levels out and is a godsend for the traverse to Amherst and Organ.

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Trail dropping down from the saddle. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_17
Some braiding and trail redundancy, but at least there's a trail at all.
20955_18
The wonderful traverse.

There's some minor up and down along the way, and the trail skirts the last and largest grassy rib farther to the east. Whiley went around the rib and I went over it, and it was much faster to do the former. We met on the other side and made our way to the Amherst/Organ saddle.

20955_19
Organ Mountain B looks intense!
20955_20
Almost at the saddle. Photo: Whiley H.

Getting up Organ was going to be one of the day's cruxes. It was steep and appeared to be almost entirely composed of granite scree, with the exception of a scramble up the summit block.

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Even the grass on this one's barely attached.
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Amherst doesn't look much better.

We slipped and slid our way up the steep slope and made our way around to the east side of the summit block.

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An inch or two of pebbles. Photo: Whiley H.
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Better quality rock.
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Nearing the goods. Photo: Whiley H.

For the most part the scrambling to Organ's summit was easy. There were a few short sections of Class 3 and then a singular, rectangular stone standing above the rest. The backside of the summit block's summit block proved to be easy with a helper block to get a boost on.

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One of the Class 3 bits. Photo: Whiley H.
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Organ B's summit boulder.
20955_29
Whiley having harvested Organ.
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Soft-ranked Point 12,580 and Vallecito Creek. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_31
Amherst looking tough. Photo: Whiley H.

It was stupid hot by this point in the day and we had so much left to go so we didn't stay long.

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Climbing down off Organ. Photo: Whiley H.
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Chunky monkey. Photo: Whiley H.

Going down Organ was much easier than coming up, since we could just ski on our heels through the gravel.

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Rugged cliffs on Amherst. Photo: Whiley H.
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And rugged cliffs on Organ. Almost like they're neighbors! Photo: Whiley H.

From the saddle we began ascending Amherst, aiming for the obvious gully splitting the east face. Getting to the base of the cliffs near the gully was no problem, but then there was a hairy, tenuous Class 3 traverse to get to the bottom of the gully. To climb up the gully required Class 2+ scrambling on extremely loose and highly exposed gravel which funneled into another gully system that ran into Vallecito Basin. A fall would probably mean death, so we retreated and looked for a different way.

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Me attempting to go up the gully, post-traverse. I didn't make it much beyond this. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_37
The gully system and traverse. It's steeper than it looks, and covered in ankle deep scree. The rotten orange gully to the right went for a long ways.
20955_38
Slopes up from the saddle. Photo: Whiley H.

We traversed south around the cliffs and then up another gravel slope. This one was somewhat exposed, very loose, and fairly steep, but didn't reach the critical combination of sketch like the gully system. All in all it was another few hundred feet of clawing our way up, two steps forward and one step back.

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Garbage slope but not difficult. Photo: Whiley H.

Amherst had two summits. We weren't sure which was which so we scrambled back and forth between the two. The rock on the summit ridge was terrible but the scrambling easy at Class 2+.

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Amherst's northern summit.
20955_41
Southern summit. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_42
Looking south. Though not the gully we first tried, this is similar. Photo: Whiley H.

While Organ at least had a nice summit scramble, there was nothing nice whatsoever about Amherst. We quickly reversed the summit ridge and scree skied down the choss and back to the trail.

20955_44
Mega.

Once we'd climbed back out of the basin we continued south across open country towards "Peak Twenty Two". "Twenty Two" reminds me a lot of one of my favorite thirteeners, Point 13,001 in the Sawatch - basically a big, improbable looking fin of rock that proves to be both easier and more fun than it looks.

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Beginning up the northeastern side of "Peak Twenty Two" with "Peak Twenty One" in the back. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_46
Good rock on "Twenty Two". Notice this stuff is white, not red, which is sometimes an indication of quality. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_47
An impressive looking "Peak Twenty Two".

The steep grass slopes on "Twenty Two" led up to some fun Class 2+ and Class 3 scrambling on excellent granite boulders.

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Gettin' hiiiiiiiiigh. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_49
Great scrambles and Sheep Mountain D. Photo: Whiley H.
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To the top! Photo: Whiley H.
20955_51
Trying to push the mountain apart. Photo: Whiley H.

"Twenty Two" was one of the highlights of the day so far, along with Organ. The other peaks were just meh or, like Amherst, plain cruddy. We stayed for a few minutes on the summit and then returned north back to the grass. Whiley took a more direct line west down some minor scrambles while I stuck purely to hiking, then we turned south and traipsed over to Sheep Mountain D.

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In between "Peak Twenty Two" and Sheep D. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_53
Do the crazy formations ever stop? I sure hope not! Photo: Whiley H.
20955_54
Complex but easy terrain.

It was ridiculously hot by this time in the afternoon so we stopped for a short break in the shade of Sheep D's north face, then continued up yet another steep grass and gravel slope to Sheep D's summit plateau.

20955_55
Taking a much needed breather. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_56
Sheep's summit is pretty lackluster compared to the hike to the summit.
20955_57
But the views north make up for it!

From Sheep we had two options: descend basically directly west back to our camp at City Reservoir or head southwest to 12,795-foot Sheridan Mountain. The choice was obvious. MORE PEAKS! Sheridan was quite prominent from Sheep, and Sheep's gentle southwest slopes took us into a nearly endless sea of granite slabs and blocks.

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Sheridan and just a few rocks. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_59
Looking back towards Sheep. Photo: Whiley H.

The traverse to Sheridan was probably the best part of the day. Weaving through the channels and breaks in the rock was a dream. Route finding for most of the traverse was complex and engaging but very enjoyable. This wasn't like route finding across a nasty, rotten ridge. Everything here was solid and just a ton of fun. We took our time, spilt up and took our own ways, rejoined and departed again. Sheep to Sheridan was sublime.

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Imagine an hour of this type of terrain, more if really set on exploring. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_61
Sheridan Mountain. We went up the right side.
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Small, unnamed pond below Sheridan. Photo: Whiley H.

The ascent up Sheridan was steep but easy, all on grass with a stony backdrop. We were a little slow, having long since run out of water during our grueling day.

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Starting up Sheridan. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_64
"Everything the light touches is our kingdom."
20955_65
A very different side of the Weminuche. Rock beyond our wildest dreams. Photo: Whiley H.
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Heaven. Photo: Whiley H.
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West towards City Reservoir and numerous mesas. Photo: Whiley H.
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Sheridan homestretch. Photo: Whiley H.

Sheridan was a big slog, but it was (almost) all downhill from there. With the exception of one more peak, of course. Last one, I swear! Or do I?

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Descending south towards Point 12,442. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_71
Our path illuminated. Photo: Whiley H.
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Sheridan bump, of which there were several. Photo: Whiley H.

Point 12,442 was another repeat of the familiar theme: easy slopes to the summit block, which was a short, fun scramble.

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Point 12,442 barely even looks like a peak when everything else is so big! Photo: Whiley H.
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Last bit of uphill for the day. Photo: Whiley H.
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The bumpies on Sheridan, plus afternoon light and shadow for miles. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_78
Slogging for fun. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_79
12,442's neat summit block. Photo: Whiley H.

The final scramble up 12,442 was easier than it looks - Class 2+ - and the final scramble for the day.

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Endlich Mesa's summit is the rounded peak with the steep face near center. Photo: Whiley H.

From 12,442's summit we descended west down nice, grassy slopes to make our way back to the Endlich Mesa trail. The travel to the trail was easy, no doubt easier than what would have been an untrailed descent if we had descended from Sheep earlier in the day.

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A side trail off the main Endlich Mesa trail. Our descent took us farther right off frame. Photo: Whiley H.

The trail was very welcomed after spending most of the day off-trail, much of it on hard, wearying granite. We quickly made our way back to the reservoir and then to camp.

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South side of City Reservoir. Photo: Whiley H.
20955_83
Only a minute or two from camp and comfort. Photo: Whiley H.

Originally we had planned to pack up and head back to the trailhead and drive north to the Cimarron area of the Uncompahgre Wilderness for even more peaks, but it was too late and we were too tired to do that. We spent a second night at City Reservoir, which I can't say I was upset about. I don't think I've had a single second of negativity in the Weminuche, and Endlich Mesa is just too spectacular to feel anything but bliss. The Cimarron could wait. We still had business left here, and spent another wonder-dream-filled night with our mountain friends.


Day 2 Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H.
Camp: City Reservoir
Total distance: 13.53 miles
Total elevation gain: 6,632 feet
Total time: 8:23:36
Peaks: Four ranked thirteeners, one, soft-ranked thirteener, one unranked thirteener, two ranked twelvers

  • "Peak Twenty One", 13,085' (unranked)
  • Emerson Mountain, 13,140' (soft-ranked)
  • Organ Mountain B, 13,032'
  • Amherst Mountain, 13,165'
  • "Peak Twenty Two", 13,105'
  • Sheep Mountain D, 13,070'
  • Sheridan Mountain, 12,795'
  • Point 12,422

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
City Reservoir Camp "Peak Twenty One" 1:27:25 1:25:25 0:00
"Peak Twenty One" Emerson Mountain 0:14:21 1:41:46 2:06
Emerson Mountain Organ Mountain B 1:05:13 2:49:05 0:00
Organ Mountain B Amherst Mountain 0:47:56 3:37:01 2:44
Amherst Mountain "Peak Twenty Two" 1:15:34 4:55:19 0:00
"Peak Twenty Two" Sheep Mountain D 0:39:39 5:34:48 5:21
Sheep Mountain D Sheridan Mountain 1:07:39 6:47:47 4:30
Sheridan Mountain Point 12,422 0:28:07 7:20:23 7:43
Point 12,422 City Reservoir Camp 0:55:29 8:23:36 Overnight


Monday, September 7, 2020: Day 3 - Endlich Mesa Deproach: Point 12,470, Endlich Mesa (12,490'), Crevasse Benchmark (12,311')

We awoke the next day to gloomy, smoky skies and the smell of smoke. Snow was coming and apparently the change of weather was bringing the wildfire along with it. Though we didn't know where the fire itself was, we figured we probably weren't at direct risk, though the smoke was clearly an issue. We quickly packed up camp and headed for our escape.

20955_84
The smoke isn't too bad yet.

The good trail made our hike easier, which we appreciated since we wore our buffs over our faces most of the day. Along the way I left the trail to tag soft-ranked Point 12,490, which Whiley had already gotten on a previous trip to the area. I dropped my pack on the trail and the easy grass slopes only took me a few minutes.

20955_85
Boy, 12,490 sure is exciting!
20955_86
Looking north towards the rest of the trail and the summit of Endlich Mesa on the middle-left.

I quickly returned to my pack and caught up with Whiley near the summit of Endlich Mesa, which is right off the trail. Most people probably don't even know they could tag a ranked peak with one minute of off-trail hiking.

20955_87
En route to Endlich Mesa.

With the smoke now beginning to obscure nearby peaks we knew we had to get a move on, but we had one more peak to go, and Whiley assured me it was worth the side trip, smoke and all. We continued north along tundra before rejoining the trail and made our way towards Crevasse Benchmark, an unranked twelver that was to be our last peak of the trip. We once again left the trail as we neared the benchmark, which was a strange looking block of exposed rock.

20955_88
Entrance to the crevasse field on Crevasse Benchmark.

The entire block is riddled with cracks two body lengths deep and from squeeze chimney to an arm span or more wide. It was very unique and absolutely worth the small amount of extra time and effort to explore. We dropped our packs at the edge of it and worked our way through the maze of cracks to a brief Class 2+ chimney which we scrambled to the flat top of the benchmark.

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Crevasse Benchmark is aptly named.
20955_90
What a cool rock! And a cool Whiley! She friggin' ROCKS!
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South towards Endlich Mesa.

From the top it was possible to see how many cracks sliced and split through the block. One could spend some time investigating each one.

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Crackalicious.
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Cracktastic.

After spending a few minutes poking around in the cracks we worked our way back through the maze and down to our packs. We couldn't see Vallecito Creek in the bottom of the drainage due to smoke, and the peaks from the last two days weren't visible behind the wall of gray.

20955_94
Cracktacular and the last crack we played in. Photo: Whiley H.

Crevasse Benchmark might be unranked and out of the way but it was super interesting. If you read this and make a trip out to Endlich Mesa add Crevasse Benchmark to your agenda - it's absolutely worth your time.

Our descent from the benchmark to the trailhead went quickly and easily since it was now all on trail. At the trailhead we barely said our goodbyes before getting in our vehicles and going, so thick was the smoke. It took us another two hours to drive down the rough road to the Lemon Reservoir road, bouncing and rumbling the whole way. Whiley went home and I headed to Silverton for a couple of days to weather out the snow. What a trip this had been! Twelve thirteeners and four twelvers in 48 hours ain't too bad, and so many of them were beautiful and a ton of fun that I immediately wished I could go back for more. Endlich Mesa is one of those places I gush about to people, and for good reason. It is, without a doubt, one of Colorado's most incredible places. If you dream of granite, go to Endlich Mesa and make your dreams a reality.


Day 3 Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H.
Camp: City Reservoir
Ending Trailhead: Endlich Mesa
Total distance: 8.72 miles
Total elevation gain: 2,280 feet
Total time: 3:33:21
Peaks: One ranked twelver, one soft-ranked twelver, one unranked twelver

  • Point 12,470 (soft-ranked)
  • Endlich Mesa, 12,490'
  • Crevasse Benchmark, 12,311' (unranked)

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
City Reservoir Camp Point 12,470 1:20:30 1:20:30 3:54
Point 12,470 Endlich Mesa 0:25:51 1:50:14 2:45
Endlich Mesa Crevasse Benchmark 0:45:46 2:38:45 7:16
Crevasse Benchmark Endlich Mesa Trailhead 0:47:19 3:33:21 Trip End

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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Bombay2Boulder
User
Great Beta
04/21/2021 19:20
I am hoping to try these this summer. Great report as always!


supranihilest
User
Thanks
04/21/2021 21:04
Thanks Yusuf! I hope you love Endlich as much as I do!


Tornadoman
User
Sweet pictures
04/22/2021 14:39
That area looks really magical; thanks for sharing! That Labor Day smoke was awful, we were leaving Beartown and visibility was really low.


Mtnman200
User
Nice report & photos as always
05/06/2021 12:45
I can't say I enjoy hiking through the smoke much. Glad it didn't keep you from your goals.

Your trip report title made me think of Monty Python.


supranihilest
User
Hilarious
05/10/2021 22:49
@Andrew: Endlich is beyond amazing, hope you can make it out there sometime! You guys probably had worse smoke being a little farther north than we did. Here's to hoping this season is better...

@Eddie: Monty Python references are always appreciated, and I hadn't seen this particular skit before. The first few minutes of "surgery" are beyond funny. Thanks for the video!



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