Peak(s):  Mt. Silverheels  -  13,822 feet
Date Posted:  12/27/2021
Date Climbed:   09/24/2021
Author:  petal53run
 Silverheels said Yes   

Silverheels said Yes

Silverheels(13829) had been lingering in my mind since I turned left at the cairn rather than going straight. After surprising moose in the willows(pic1-2), I realized I was too far out to correct my mistake. So I kept walking until I summited Hoosier Peak(pic3). Every time I drove over Hoosier Pass(pic4-5), I would shout to Silverheels: I will climb you someday. After I finished climbing Loveland & Buckskin(August21) and researching the auto tour on Buckskin Gulch, I found the connection to Silverheels. She was a dancehall girl in Buckskin Joe who in 1861 heroically cared for the sick with smallpox. Then she disappeared but the tribute remains.

That someday, I parked at Hoosier pass 630ish via I70W and South on CO9 just as the sun was waking up(pic6). Saw snow (pic7) on Hoosier peak. A group of hunters and I discussed our planned whereabouts before I crossed CO9 to the jeep trail blocked by a gate(pic8). A path goes around to a sign(pic9) E of gate. The dirt surface peppered with rocks was easy to walk on and the grade gradually increased while going through the pine trees(pic10). The hunters were on the wrong trail because I saw deer(pic11) and moose (pic12-13) tracks. At the fork(pic14), go STRAIGHT. One cairn is at the curve. A left turn leads to the radio towers and the second cairn is straight up the embankment as the trail enters the pine and willow terrain. Pic15 of the trail leaving the trees behind as I followed it up the grassy hill. I sighted on a post(pic16) that was part of a big rock pile(pic17). This is the first of many piles that marked the top of the many hills before turning right to get to Silverheels summit.

This is what it looks like going up and down while hiking(pic18) getting to Hoosier & Silverheels. I watched a gorgeous sun rise(pic19-20-21). On the first hill, Silverheels came into view(pic22). Then more grass and rocky tops to hike over. At the 4th hill, I turned right to go down to the power pole(pic23). Silverheels peak got a little closer. I assessed both ribs. The red dots are my ascending route and the purple dots mark the descending. The reports that I read said take the left ridge but those were winter climbers. No snow cornices yet to cross and because I could see a viable crossing at the base of the right rib, I lost all gained elevation going to the bottom of the mountain. I jumped over a narrow stream(pic24) and began the slow but steady reclaim of the climb. Afterall, I convinced myself, I had all day to do this as the skies were crystal blue with nary a cloud in sight. While hiking the long and scenic route, I walked through snow(pic25) and flowers(pic26). About 1/2 way up, I saw a couple people going up the rib N of me. I made a vivid mental note to return that route. Pic27 of saddle leading to Silverheels getting closer and others have traveled this way for I found cairns(pic28). At the talus line (pic29), the summit came into sight, and success: on Silverheels(pic30-31).

A nice gentleman was sitting in the windbreak taking pictures for his wife who wasn’t climbing that day. The fall foliage was all around below (Breckinridge pic 32 fairplay pic33 and obligatory pic34 of Quandry), we exchanged experiences and discussed the descending route via the closest rib. It was about 5 minutes from the summit (pic35), a steep and viable path, but short and fast as we slide down the loose rock. After we passed under the power lines(pic36), we saw a path, which was apparent on the return leg, cutting across the S side of 2 hills. This rather flat line eliminated going up and down 2X. When it disappeared at a saddle, we climbed up the knotted grass hill, climbed the last 2 hills and headed back to our cars. We congratulated each other and enjoyed the soothing fall temperatures. Going home, I took pics(37-38-39-40) of the golden yellow/orange of the trees.

In sum, while there were plenty of up&downs before going only up, the supposedly 3900 foot vertical gain(I recall doing it twice) is easily doable, in that, I got a good workout. The trail is visible and after cresting the first hill, Hoosier Ridge and Silverheels peaks your determination. Turning right toward the electrical towers, the ridge features a couple more up&downs, a vague trail and 2 rib choices going up to Silverheels. The N rib surface is shorter, loose rock and intensely steeper. The S ridge is grassy terrain and a steady contemplative climb. It doesn’t matter which rib route you take as you will get to the top to a wind break and USGS marker(pic41) on an expansive flat top. Silverheels was a lengthy distance of 9miles RT in 7 hours but the perfect fall weather and 360degrees of amazing views put a skip and hop into my step.

Caption Here

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
12/27/2021 16:33
I really enjoyed the pictures of the moose, and the fall colors.
Thanks for posting this.

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