Peak(s):  Lake Park Peak - 11403
Tarryall Peak - 11758
"Catamount" - 11695
McCurdy Mountain - 12168
"South McCurdy" - 12157
Date Posted:  10/29/2021
Date Climbed:   10/21/2021
Author:  twhalm
Additional Members:   csmith
 Lost Creek Grab Bag   

Overview

I hiked Bison peak in 2015 and I distinctly remember the peak and its wild rock formations making an impression on me and it wasn't until last year when I did the short hike up to Harmonica Arch that I realized I really hadn't scratched the surface of the Lost Creek Wilderness. When csmith messaged me out of the blue about a last minute trip to the Wilderness I happily joined in!

For those unfamiliar, Lost Creek Wilderness lies between South Park and the Hayman fire burn area. It is is chock full of other worldly formations of Pikes Peak granite buried in alpine forests or exposed on the summit plateaus on Bison and McCurdy. Lost creek seems to be known for its miles of remote backpacking loops rather than the peaks in the park, but we made a plan to make a few diversions from a popular southern loop to grab Lake Park peak, Tarryall peak, an unranked 11er "The Catamount" and McCurdy Mountain.

Day 1: 11er Adventures

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Classic sign pic

We started right at sunrise from the Goose Creek trailhead with the goal of camping for the night at McCurdy park. Lost creek wilderness is not particularly wet, especially in October, so if you plan a trip, make sure to plan ahead for water accessibility. There is water for the first few miles up Haskins pass but after that it is sparse until McCurdy Park.

We made quick time up Haskins pass and turned on to the Lake Park Trail which brought us to the base of our first objective: Lake Park Peak. From Lake Park trail the peak is only a small detour of ~1/4 miles and +500 ft. We dropped our packs and quickly learned that hiking off-trail in LCW is quite an adventure; the combination of deadfall and outcrops of granite make any route finding quite entertaining and a challenge. Regardless, we picked our way to the summit which ended up being a class 2+ jaunt and were rewarded with views of the Tarryall and The Catamount, our next objectives.

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Tarryall on the right and unranked "The Catamount" on the left. Lake Park below.

From Lake Park, the trail loops to the north of Tarryall, but since we also wanted to get The Catamount we decided to bushwack to the saddle between the two points. Luckily this area was dry so the forest was sparse making the path fairly straight forward. After a snack at the saddle we headed up The Catamount!

There is a great page on the LCW on summit post, but like the Gores the beta seems to be intentionally lacking...either that or nobody really cares about 11ers. The little information that was on that page, however, made The Catamount seem like a fun challenge. From the saddle we headed up the north ridge which had more snow on it than expected so we tried to head around to the more southern aspects. Like Lake Park Peak there was not a lot of elevation gain to cover but route finding once again ended up being an exciting adventure. After a few absolute dead ends and some exposed adventures we eventually found a convoluted class 4 route to the summit on the snow free south face. After poking around, there might have been other routes up, but nothing obvious.

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About halfway up the summit pitch of The Catamount. Rocking the Patagonia fleece I grabbed at last second.
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Looking down from the summit block at some of the final moves
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Sangres in the distance from the top of The Catamount
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Looking North to Tarryall. Our packs are down there somewhere.

After taking in the great views from the top of The Catamount we headed back to the saddle. The climb was not nearly as fun on the way down but it was mercifully short and we were soon back to where we dropped our packs. From there, we made our way North the the west ridge of Terryall where we marveled at the weird rocks and once again dropped our packs for the push to the final summit of the day.

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Typical LCW terrain

Tarryall ended up being the most straight forward peak of the day. We followed the ridge until we found a short class 3 scramble that landed us on the summit. The only trouble on this peak was the snow we were sliding through in our trail runners.

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Typical northern aspect terrain for the day
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Looking back at The Catamount. Its difficulties are more evident from this angle.
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North to McCurdy and the rest of the days objectives. Evans Massif in the distance.

The rest of day one consisted of covering the rest of the mileage to McCurdy park where we knew there was water. Once there, we found fewer campsites than expected, but since we were the only ones there we had the opportunity to be picky and ended up camping at a nice spot a little further north than initially expected. The day ended with a total of ~13 miles and ~5300 feet of gain.

Day 2/3: McCurdy and Lost Creek

That first night ended up being significantly colder than expected. The creek running near our campsite nearly froze over overnight so we were ready to get up and start moving in the morning. From camp we backtracked back to the intersection of the Brookside McCurdy trail and the McCurdy Park Trail and followed the former around the south side of McCurdy until we reached the point where the trail approaches the summit plateau on the west side of the mountain. From there we broke off and climbed to where the plateau leveled off.

I can say for certain that the summit plateaus of Bison and McCurdy are like nothing else in Colorado. The open tundra paired with the strange rock formations make a fantastic combo that need to be seen in person to fully appreciate. We fooled around on the rocks and took plenty of pictures on the way to the summit block to the North.

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One of the many formations. I see the moon.
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Definitely Unique
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I see some Sawatch back there
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From McCurdy looking south. One of the points on the left is "South McCurdy"

From a distance the summit "feature" looked imposing, but once there we were able to find an easy way to the top and we rewarded with great views. Looking south, we decided that the rock formations on the south summit of McCurdy looked interesting and fun so we made a detour to explore those features. From a distance it is not obvious which formation is the tallest, but once you are close it becomes obvious. Neither of us had read much on this sub-summit so we didn't even know if summiting was possible (without class 5). We poked around the summit formation, made a few attempts and almost gave up until I circled to the south and found a convoluted route up that included squeezing up a short crack at the top. While not high or overly exposed the moves were probably class 4ish. For the last "peak" of the trip it was well worth the detour!

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I offer the name of Pride Rock for this formation...for obvious reasons.
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From the south summit looking West at a shorter but very similar formation to the high point.

From the South summit of McCurdy we took a slightly more direct route back to the trail and eventually to our camp. Our first camp was essentially the midpoint of the loop so after playing on McCurdy the goal for the rest of the day was to find a campsite for the night. Our route out was to head north to the Goose Creek trail and follow that all the way back. Luckily, this section of the loop had more places where water was available and we had marked a few potential campsites on our map. Once again, we had our choice of sites and ended up finding a fantastic site left us only a handful of miles for day 3.

Even though we were done with peaks, the hike for the rest of the loop was still phenomenal. The trail from McCurdy park to the Goose Creek trail weaves around dense formations of granite and opens to fantastic views over and over again. In the end, day 2 ended up being around 15 miles with 4000 ft of gain and almost 6000 of loss. That left a pleasant 5 miles out for the last day.

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One of the places where Lost Creek gets "lost"
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Typical Terrain in the Lost/Goose Creek area.

Overall this was a great trip with fun summits, good scrambling on solid rock, great weather and fantastic views. There is probably a lifetimes worth of good climbing/scrambling to be had in the LCW and I hope to be back soon.


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
Jay521
User
Nice report!
10/29/2021 08:08
The LCW is a very cool place, isn't it? Should you have questions about the area - short of contacting Jennifer Roach, you might drop a PM to user Derek. I think he has done everything in the LCW - or close to it - and has done a lot of TR's

Again - a very nice report on a great area!



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