Peak(s):  PT 13,490  -  13,490 feet
PT 13,122  -  13,122 feet
Date Posted:  11/15/2021
Date Climbed:   11/13/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Wild Cherry Trailhead   

Cotton King Peak – 13,490 and PT 13,122


RT Length: 18.96 miles

Elevation Gain: 6296’

It’s that wonderful time of year when I start and end hikes in the dark. I’d slept at this trailhead, quite comfortable, and didn’t want to get up. That’s the only downside to loving your sleep set-up: you don’t want to get out from under the covers. Eventually I got up, and was on the trail at 5:30am.

The Wild Cherry Trail is at the end of a fun 4WD road. There’s plenty of parking, and I had the whole place to myself the entire night (and the next day/night as well, odd since it was a Friday/Saturday/Sunday).



I followed this class 1 trail as it meandered and switchbacked alongside Wild Cherry Creek (no creek crossings this time)


The creek was running, but still kind of frozen


I was slowing down as I made it to a meadow with some nice camping spots at 11000’



So. Many. Switchbacks. I was not feeling it. I was hiking slow, my knee still hurt from yesterday, and for some reason, I felt unmotivated. I looked at my tracker: I’d gone (almost) 5 miles. I’m good at playing mental games to keep myself motivated. I decided to hike to 5 miles, then turn back. A 10 mile day is pretty good, right? When I hit 5 miles, I told myself I’d just go to the lake, and kept hiking.

Just after the meadow with the camping area I switchbacked a few times, then entered a rocky area. There was still a trail here (there’s as trail all the way to Peanut and Cherry Lakes). It was here I encountered snow. Mine were the first tracks since it snowed last (a few weeks ago?)


I knew I was getting close to the lake when I saw the sign warning me not to camp or bring livestock within 300 feet of the lakes


I continued following the trail, just wanting to see the lakes before turning back…


Once I made it to the lakes I had a visual of the rest of the route, and there was no stopping me now (visuals help my mood tremendously). Also, the sun had come up, which made everything better: I’m not a fan of gloomy days (which this one started out to be).

With my newfound energy, I was now aiming for this saddle


I could see a sort of plateau hugging the south side of Mt Owen, and that’s where I wanted to be


Here’s an overall look at my path to the Mt Owen/Cotton King saddle


First, at around 11830, before making it to Peanut Lake, I found a grassy hillside and ascended it north


This brought me to 12000’, and a boulder field. I stayed high (left), and followed the boulder field southeast towards the Mt Owen/Cotton King saddle


There are some willows to navigate, but if you stay high, you can avoid them. There’s also a game trail that picks up in the tundra. It goes as a trail about 75 percent of the time, and is easily seen from below




Once on the saddle, I didn’t follow the obvious, snow-covered trail (for obvious reasons), but instead took the class 2 ridge south.


This is a good time to get a visual of where the summit of Cotton King Peak actually lies: It’s at the end of the ridge to your left. Looks can be deceiving: There will be false summits.


Ok, so I continued up the class 2 ridge


Just before topping out there was a trail that went left. There is currently a small cornice forming, but I was able to navigate the terrain with just my trekking pole (I had microspikes and didn’t feel the need to put them on)


Now I just needed to follow the ridge. This is all class 2. Here’s an overview:



And some step-by-step photos. Up the first ridge



Then I skirted the next false summit to the left, through a gully




I was convinced this was the summit, but alas, no.


I followed the talus and rocky ridge east to the summit of Cotton King


I summited Cotton King Peak at 11:30am


Cotton King Peak:

Earlier this morning I’d made a mental deal with myself that if I summited Cotton King, I’d come back for PT 13122 another day. Well, I’d changed my mind: I was getting both in today. I turned and re-traced my steps back down the ridge.


The route up 13122 looked easy enough


But as I got closer, I realized the normal, class 2 route up to the summit was full of snow (circled in red). I wouldn’t be able to summit that way. Instead, I kept mostly to the ridge, on class 2 terrain, until my final move was difficult class 3 up a chimney to the summit. Here’s the overall route.


And some step-by-step pictures


I kept this part class 2 by staying lower than I’d wanted to where the rock outcroppings were


For the final push to the summit, I aimed for the snow areas, just for a good visual, and then followed the tundra/rock gullies to the summit. This kind of reminded me of the gullies on the Maroon Peaks.


Here’s the route I took. You can clearly see the ‘summer’ route to the left, covered in snow just before the ledge.


I just looked for a break in the rocks, and followed those towards the ridge


Here’s the class 3+ chimney I used to ascend the ridge


I summited PT 13122 at 1:10pm


PT 13122:

It looked like the true summit was further west, but I can assure you, the true summit is just as you gain the ridge. I walked over to the other side to check it out.


I know some people make this a loop, and continue heading northwest down the ridge, but I’d taken a look at the ridge down earlier in the day, and with the current snow, it didn’t look fun: either snow or cliffs to navigate at the moment. It would have been faster, in better conditions.


From the summit I made my way back to the Cotton King/PT 13122 saddle.


Then I followed my tracks back to the trail staying high in the boulder field


And once on the trail I followed it back to the trailhead



I made it back to my truck at 5pm, making this a 18.96 mile hike with 6296’ of elevation gain in 11.5 hours.


I decided I’m giving myself a down day tomorrow, and I’m just going to stay tonight at this trailhead, then drive home and hit the treadmill tomorrow. I had some spaghetti for dinner, read a bit, and enjoyed having cell service.

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 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50

Comments or Questions
11/16/2021 16:40
Great report! I wish your reports were more mobile friendly though.

Good feedback!
11/16/2021 22:14
I‘m not sure how to do this though? I‘m using the 14ers platform to the best of my abilities
I also have a website, with full trip reports, that allows larger image files, gpx files, etc. What is it exactly you‘re looking for? It may be an issue with the platform.

Mobile friendly
11/17/2021 05:41
I wonder if this is what CaptainSuburbia means: I‘ve noticed that your (excellent) reports are wider than the phone screen unless I hold it sideways. I think I‘ve seen reports from a couple of other folks with the same issue.

In other words, the last part of each line of text is cut off it I hold my phone normally. I have to turn it 90 degrees to see all the text. It‘s really weird. I have no idea what the reason is.

11/17/2021 08:19
is right. For some reason your reports are wider than a mobile screen. I've noticed this with a few others as well.

11/17/2021 08:44
"I decided I'm giving myself a down day tomorrow..." I laughed when I read this. By my admittedly hasty count you've done about 10 peaks in the first half of November alone! Wow! You're a machine, Laura. As always, enjoyed your report.


Mobile format
11/17/2021 14:14
I see the same thing on my phone. Most reports will reformat the text to fit on my screen width, but yours don't. The strange thing is that the comments on this trip report work the way they should but the body of the actual report doesn't.

11/17/2021 15:24
The issue is the YouTube videos. The embedded iframe doesn't resize to the width of a mobile device and since Laura puts YT videos in every TR then every TR will be too wide. For example this image shows a TR with a YT video at the default size of 560x316 on the left and one manually resized to 177x100 (actual size is irrelevant as long as it fits on a mobile screen) on the right.

The text on the left doesn't wrap because the page is too wide due to the iframe. My screenshot also shows 12 point and 14 point font, since I thought Laura using 14 point font might be the issue, but that wraps properly when a video fits the width of the screen, so the larger text isn't the problem. Maybe post on the "How-To" forum about the video issue and Bill can see if there's a way to fix it so it auto-resizes on mobile devices.

11/17/2021 14:59
might be on to something. All my trip reports fit on a mobile screen except for one that has a YT vid embedded.

11/17/2021 17:17
Sounds like you guys figured out the problem! Thanks for alerting me to it. Now, the question is: do I just put a link to the video in the text until it all gets sorted out so it's easier to view, not include a video at all, or leave it the way it is, with the video embedded in the post?

Tom: Thanks for the kind words If I'm not hiking, I feel like I'm slacking, which means a treadmill is involved. I'd much rather be outside!

11/17/2021 18:09
Thanks Ben for the analysis. It seems like it should be easy to fix this because it works correctly in the Forum. For example, the Top 5 Bands thread has hundreds of embedded YouTube videos, but the text in those posts still wraps correctly.

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