Peak(s):  Pettingell Pk - 13,553 feet
"Citadel, The" - 13,294 feet
Hagar Mtn - 13,220 feet
Date Posted:  08/30/2021
Date Climbed:   08/28/2021
Author:  pgres
 Front Range Scrambly Bits   

Front Range Scrambly Bits

I'd gone with a team of 2 other people the weekend two weeks ago to attempt The Citadel to Pettingell Traverse, but we unfortunately got turned around due to some sketch looking weather conditions early in the morning. I hadn't really given any serious consideration to trying the route going to opposite direction until after reading the trip report from @daway8, which provided some great detail on the crux of the route. The additional beta on the class 5.4 chimney and an evaluation of my own skills gave me some extra confidence to at least make my way over to the base of the gully before making a decision. The solidity of the rock, the protection of being inside the chimney (i.e. the moves didn't FEAL airy or exposed with a rock wall on either side) and the shortness of the pitch made combined made me feel comfortable with the decision to proceed. I honestly found it to be significantly easier and less sketchy that some parts of the Wetterhorn -> Matterhorn traverse we did a few weeks ago. I'll defer to @daway8's trip report for the majority of the ridge from Jone's Pass over The Citadel - Citadel Chimney from Hassel & Pettingell. Definitely a fun scramble that's get's you some major bang for your buck with being less than an hour's drive from Denver!

Pettingell Peak via the East Ridge from Jones Pass, The Citadel via the Connecting Ridge, Hagar Mountain via the Connecting Ridge

Route Information:
Mileage: 13.5 Miles
Elevation: 5436'
Class: 5.4

Exposure: High
Rockfall: Moderate
Route-Finding: Low (Follow the Ridge)
Commitment: High

Just a note that I DEFINITELY did this the contrived way and stayed ridge proper the entire time - intentionally seeking out Class 4 / Class 5.easy moves when possible to build up my confidence for the chimney. The scrambling starts soon after you meet up with the ridge between Hassell and Pettingell.

East Ridge of Pettingell

The East Ridge of Pettingell was what I would just describe as being fun scrambling. Pretty much everything goes and you don't have to think about it too much! The first fun section is a fairly blocky catwalk that's more solid than it appears. This section goes at Class 3 and has some nice exposure to wake you up to the coming difficulties!

Looking Back on the First Challenging Section of Scrambling

The other trip report goes over the next section of the East Ridge Traverse in pretty great detail, so I'll just leave some photos of my experience up there. The traverse can be made significantly harder if you tackle the headwall in the top right of the photo below straight on, but it's completely optional. I aimed for some obvious weaknesses in the rock to the lift of the big crack.

The Remaining Traverse

Getting a Little Exposed

From the top of the headwall, it was an easy tromp over to the summit of Pettingell

The Remaining Ridge all the way to Mount Hagar

Pettingell -> The Citadel

@Daway8's Trip Report goes over this section in great detail, so I won't spend too much time here, but will just add some notes of my experience as applicable. For the most part, you can keep the terrain down to Class 2 / Easy 3rd leading up to the Chimney. That being said, there were plenty of unnecessary towers along the way that were a lot of fun to go up and over to add some additional Class 3/4 terrain.

Fun Mini-Catwalk Section


The Chimney Ahead - No Difficult Route Finding to Find This One!

The Chimney

Some notes on the Chimney - There's plenty of "midway" spots on the way up where you have enough space on a ledge to firmly plant your feet for a solid rest spot (if necessary). I found the black rock to be surprisingly slick, even with approach shoes. I did my best to stay away from any sloping black rock for foot placement and aimed for the gray rock on the right side instead, which was much more textured and grippy - just something to keep in mind. That being said, there were plenty of flat spaces on the black rock that made for solid foot holds and tons of good hand holds throughout. I only found 2 hand holds that would have pulled out had I weighted them, so not abundantly loose, but definitely necessary to test your holds.

Looking down the Chimney (midway)
Topping out from the Class 5 Section - Class 4 from Here

The Citadel Summits

The ridge after the chimney is a short, blocky, exposed section of a narrow ridgeline comprised of microwave-sized boulders (see first photo below). This section was a lot of fun and required thoughtful movements as I made my way over and around the stable boulders and mini-spires. On top of the West summit, there's several fun little spires that are enjoyable to climb on top of if you haven't had your fill of exposure yet. After that, it was an easy scramble over to the East Summit. I'm not sure how the standard route gains either of these summits, but the saddle between the two has a gully that would be the obvious Class 2+ option.

Looking Over to the East Summit
Saddle Between East and West Summits... Descent Route?

Traverse to Hagar

I traversed back over to the West Summit before proceeding down the ridgeline towards the Hagar. There was some careful route finding involved with making my way down the summit block of The Citadel, but after that, the ridge is Class 1/2 all the way to the summit block of Hagar, though there are some EXTREMELY gratuitous class 3 sections if you so desire. Gaining the summit block of Hagar can require some route finding if you want to keep the route Class 3, but otherwise there are several options to gain the final summit ridge. Once you gain the top of the summit block, there's a short knife edge section with some exposure before you stand on the true summit.

Looking up the Downclimb from the West Summit of The Citadel
The Ridge from the Saddle (It's Easier Than it Looks)
The Summit Block of Hagar (Mandatory Class 3, Optional Class 4)
Short Knife Edge Section - Plenty of Exposure to the Right
Class 3 Descent on the Other Side of the Summit Block

From the dirt patch in the last photo, I made the decision to drop down into the basin and head up to the saddle between The Citadel and Mt Bethel before dropping back down into Herman Gulch. Going down the East Face of Hagar was interesting, but not overly difficult. I stuck to the rocks as I made my way down to the tundra before walking down to the tarn and traversing over to a trail that lead back up to the saddle. Overall, this path required a lot of unnecessary additional elevation gain and if I did it again I'd just traverse back over to The Citadel via the connecting ridge and make my way under the cliff band. There is a definitive trail that leads from the saddle over to the Herman Lake that doesn't loose/gain too much unnecessary elevation or add much additional mileage - there's no need to forge your own trail to the saddle of Bethel/Citadel if you follow the cairns. Don't follow the All Trails map for the Citadel Summit.

Looking Back at Mount Hagar
Looking back at the Traverse
Lizarding at Herman Lake

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
08/30/2021 09:50
Glad you got some use out of my trip report and nice to see a preview of Hagar, which I still need to go back for (I'll be aiming for those gratuitous sections...)

Always Aim for the Gratuitous Sections
08/30/2021 10:56
Your trip report was great and really helped with going into the chimney with solid info. Definitely appreciate your writeup! Happy scrambling on Hagar I will say that there did look to be some interesting ribs you could take up to the summit block that would go at Class 4 (MAYBE 3) that would make Hagar a significantly more fun, off-trail scrambling objective (if you were so inclined) The ridge was a bit underwhelming with only about 10 minutes of scrambling fun.

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