Peak(s):  Venable Pk  -  13,334 feet
Date Posted:  11/08/2021
Date Climbed:   11/05/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Venable Trailhead   

Venable Peak – 13,334- Attempt


RT Length: 11.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 3921’

I made it to the trailhead late the night before, and slept in the cab of my truck. Well, I tried to sleep. Unfortunately, there was internet access at this trailhead. This meant I was scrolling through my phone until 1 in the morning. I hit the snooze button three times before waking up to dawn approaching. I threw on my gear, waved at the hunter who just pulled up in the parking area, and was on the trail at 7am. This morning I was taking the Venable Trail, which is clearly marked from the parking area.


I followed the trail as it crossed over a bridge


After hiking for half a mile, I came to a junction with the Rainbow Trail, and continued straight, following the Venable Trail (1347).


Just after this junction there was a trail register. I signed it, and continued following the Venable Trail southwest


This is a class 1 trail. Today’s conditions varied, from being covered with ice, to being bare dirt, to several inches of snow.


After hiking for 2.5 miles, I came to the junction for Venable Falls. Here I continued straight on the trail, towards Venable Lakes


The trail increasingly became more snow covered, but no traction was necessary. Of course, most of the snow present was directly on the trail. This is where I was headed


I rounded this hill (lower Venable Lake is to the right)


And after 5 miles of hiking, I made it to the lower Venable Lake


I kept following the trail



After hiking a total of 5.5 miles I came to what I assumed was a junction (it was covered in snow and the sign was missing: only a post remained). I turned left and took Comanche Trail (1345) towards the pass.



I now had a good view of the rest of my route to the pass



More and more snow started accumulating on the trail. It was sugary, so I put on my microspikes. I had snowshoes, but the snow was so sugary they wouldn’t have made much of a difference.


It was slow going, and I had to spend a lot of time making a solid path in some areas through the snow, doing my best to hug the cliff, not entirely sure how wide the trail was. I was doing find until I got to this area:


I was about 200 feet from the pass, and the snow drifts were now taller than I was. I kept seeing snow slide down below my feet, over the cliffs, and made the decision to turn back. It hurt to turn back, but I knew it was for a good reason: I’m out here solo, and while I might have made it past the snow/cornice to the pass, I couldn’t have done so safely, and a fall would have been fatal. The red arrow is where I turned around. You can see the tracks where I stopped


Just for reference, I was able to summit this peak via the Comanche trail the next day. Here’s what the pass looked like from above


And look at how close I’d been to the summit of Venable!


For those of you interested in taking this route, this is how I summited Venable the next day. I took the solid line up, the dotted line down. Both were class 2 (although the ridge had quite a bit of snow)



However, I wasn’t summiting today. Instead, I turned around and hiked the 6 miles back to the trailhead.






On my way out I made plans to hike Venable and Spring from the Comanche Trail the next morning. Added bonus: I didn’t have to drive to another trailhead, since the Venable and Comanche Trailheads share a parking lot. I made it back to my truck at 12:30pm, which gave me plenty of time to read, drink whiskey, talk to hunters, and get some rest before tomorrow’s attempt.


Here’s a topo map from today’s attempt, and another along with the route I took the next day



You can find my successful Venable trip report here

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Comments or Questions
Phantom Terrace
11/08/2021 19:41
The trail section where you stopped (smart, very smart move) is called the Phantom Terrace. I first walked it to Comanche and Venable Pks in1965 from Abbots Lodge. Even dry it is somewhat scary. Go back and hike it dry conditions, it is a classic.

Jeff A
P.T. +1
11/08/2021 20:15
Good idea to turn around. As docjohn said, Phantom terrace is unforgiving in bad conditions without the correct equipment. I crossed it on a fall day where the wind was blowing very hard and it spooked me. I hugged the wall for sure. And like you said, there is an easy walk up from Commanche so why risk it? On a nice weather day the Phantom Terrace is a really fun hike.

Another excellent trip report(s)
11/09/2021 12:33
I did this loop including the 3 peaks back in mid-August, when there was no snow to contend with. I went up the Comanche side and down the Venable side. I found the Phantom Terrace sketchy in a couple of spots even with no ice or snow. These spots had rather crumbly rock right near/over a big drop off. It looks as if that is all under snow now. I am very impressed you could do what for me would be a big day (~12 miles and 3900+ vertical), then get up the next morning and do an even bigger day. Very impressive !

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.