Peak(s):  PT 13,028  -  13,028 feet
PT 13,060 A  -  13,060 feet
PT 13,062 A  -  13,062 feet
PT 13,054  -  13,054 feet
Date Posted:  11/05/2021
Modified:  11/06/2021
Date Climbed:   07/14/2021
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   Grizzly Adams
 Mas Alto 13ers via ridges   

Dates: July 12-14, 2021

Trailhead: San Isabel Creek

Day 1 - approach via San Isabel creek, ~6 miles and 3k vertical

After clearing out the remaining Cielo Vista ranch 13ers earlier in the month, it was time to finish the Sangres range. I decided on San Isabel creek trail as the approach, since it was possible to get both Mas Alto 13ers and the lonely 13,054 from the same camp. The unknown issue were the ridges. Furthermore documented the ridge between 13,060A and 13,062A with a brief section of class 4, but as we discovered, the fun scrambly east ridge of 13,028 flew under the radar. Shawn also found a documented route up 13,054 from San Isabel lake (which we took on the descent), but we decided to take the north ridge on our ascent. Overall, we were pleasantly surprised with the amount of scrambling and overall rock quality.

On day 1, Shawn scooped me up from 2wd TH in his truck, and we were on the trail by 7.30am or so. Approximately twelve creek crossings ensued. I just ended up switching between Crocs and trailrunners, while Shawn was able to stem most obstacles. The rose bushes along the trail were ubiquitous and distracting from the long 3k and 6 mile approach. The trail became less obvious in the last mile as the wildflowers looked like a carpet. We probably spent close to an hour looking for an acceptable campsite as we tried to find a wildflower-free spot. Eventually we made camp next to the San Isabel lake turn-off near 11,500 ft.

Multiple creek crossings
Upper basin approach

Day 2 - Mas Alto 13ers

3,700 ft, 6 miles, 7+ hours

Next morning we rolled out of camp early at 6am since there was a chance of afternoon storms and found a faint trail leading to the saddle between UN13,028 and Hermit. The ridge quickly got interesting. We were surprised by the amount of scrambling if you stay on ridge proper. Ridge took slightly longer than expected, but we got to the 1st summit just after 8am. Skies were a bit smoky from the wildfires.

Photo by Shawn
East ridge
East ridge
This section was probably the crux, but Shawn tackled it without hesitation :)
Staying on the ridge, San Isabel lake below
Chimney was another interesting section - mini-crux is getting though the bulgy section.
1 down, 2 more to go
Gentle ridge to 13,060A

The rest of the hike was mostly class 2, except for the short section on the descent from 13,060A. Weather was starting to improve as the day went on.

Looking back at 13,028 and Mas Alto lake
Short class 3-4 section on the descent off 13,060A
Downclimb - photo by Shawn
Last summit of the day ~10.30 am

From there, our plan was to drop down to Rito Alto lake and then take the trail up and over the pass. Thankfully, the east slopes of 13,062A are pretty gentle, so the descent was fairly straightforward. We had to engage in some bushwhacking once we dropped below the treeline, but it wasn't terrible. All in, it took us less than an hour to reach the lake. Once at the lake and going up back to the pass, wildflowers were out of control.

Starting the descent
Rito Alto peak from the lake
Good trail to the top of the pass
View of the ridge for tomorrow's objective

Day 3 - UN 13,054 and pack out

My final ranked 13er in the Sangres! I was excited. There were a few reports on the peak, some involving serious bushwhack, but none we could find from the north side. N/NW ridge looked interesting and we scouted the approach the day prior on the descent. To avoid the initial bushwhack, we took the trail to San Isabel lake, but cut left as soon as we saw a good entrance. The start looked intimidating, but we hoped we can find some quality scrambling. There were some steeper lines to the left of ours, so a rope may be advisable (not sure if it's worth carrying the rope and gear that far though).

Start of the North ridge as viewed from camp
We took a series of grassy ramps/ledges to the start of scrambling
Just below the upper headwall

From here we trended up and right, as contour lines look steeper straight and left. Might be a good area to explore with the rope, as the rock quality was good.

Mas Alto 13ers across the valley
After initial steep entry the ridge relented for a while
San Isabel lake
Me slogging and being distracted by the views
Look at the remaining ridge

After a brief lull, we started to get into the meat of the ridge.


Then we ran into this. Bypassing this gendarme on the right side still ranks among the biggest regrets of Shawn's life, along with skipping East Windom due to time constraints and wrecking his truck. But down and up we went and found ourselves at the base of another headwall.

Next headwall
Ridge scrambling
Photo by Shawn

After turning north again, the ridge relented for the most part, but we still had some surprises ahead.

Ridge ahead
Look back at the ridge traveled thus far
Remaining ridge
Sangres 13er finisher!

Although the ridge took a bit longer than expected, we still got to the summit just after 9 am (with 6am start). Shawn brought a register. After about 45 min on the summit, sadly, it was time to head down, as the cloud cover was building.

Wildflowers growing from the rocks
Starting the descent
Meat of the ridge we traversed

Our goal was to drop down to San Isabel lake, and I was considering following the grassy ledges, but in the end we ended up dropping in a more or less straight line, which turned out to be surprisingly steep. We didn't pick the best (easiest) line, but thankfully, neither did we pick the worst.

Shawn navigates the descent. There are cliffs hiding below us
Vertical grass - not recommended as a handhold
Downclimb - photo by Shawn
Headwall which we picked our way through
Photo by Shawn
Mas Alto's East ridge from San Isabel lake (hiked the day before)
On the hike out

We got back to camp by noon, for a round trip of 6 hours, just as the light drizzle was starting and the fog was moving in. We quickly packed up our stuff and were on the trail before 1pm. My phone died from taking too many photos, so we were moving quicker :) I also ended up hiking in Crocs last few miles to avoid constant shoe changes during creek crossings. We got to the car 3 hours later. What a beautiful trip at the height of the wildflower season!

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

Comments or Questions
Gorgeous photos
11/05/2021 21:05
and great effort getting them! Love the Sangres

11/07/2021 13:21
Great outing and ditto what GreenOnion wrote.

Grizzly Adams
What a surprise
11/10/2021 16:11
this trip was! Fun scrambling and a beautiful area! Thanks again for the invite, I'm growing very fond of those Sangres. Hopefully we can put some interesting routes together so you'll repeat a few. And the truck... it was bad but not nearly as bad as skipping East Windom

Incredible Photos,
11/10/2021 16:12
Looks like some pretty baller climbing. I love that area!

11/11/2021 09:25
Flowers were at peak in mid-July and there were tons of rose bushes. So pretty! Not the strongest trail, especially towards the end, but very doable. Creek crossings were fun.
Shawn, I was as surprised as you by the ridges- particularly the one on 13,054. Thanks again for thinking of the register and joining me on my finisher! I am definitely going to miss the Sangres, so we just have to come up with some stuff to climb.
Little Bear-Blanca traverse is definitely at the top of the list.

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