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This is a great hike if you're short on time and looking for something quick. The low mileage and easy terrain makes it very dog friendly too. We parked at 11,530 feet just below the Iowa Gulch trailhead for this. There was a nice pullout here with room for 3 or 4 cars. We began by crossing the road and climbing northeast into the Dyer Amphitheater over grassy terrain. Surprisingly, there was very little snow to start.
Day of Climb: Sunday November 7th. 2021
Trailhead: Iowa Gulch
Peaks: West Dyer Mountain and East Ball Mountain (a "high" unranked 12er)
Mileage and Elevation Gain: 3.73 miles and 1700 feet of gain
Shortly after starting we came to a cliff area which appeared to have multiple ways to climb over or through. We chose to skirt around it instead, by ascending a steep embankment to the right. This quickly put us in the upper amphitheater without much effort, and we could now see most of our remaining route. Luckily, we also caught sight of a bighorn sheep herd. They were effortlessly climbing high above us through steep cliffs on the west side of Dyer.
The upper amphitheater had a bit more snow, but still not enough to bother us. From here, we followed the main drainage running through the amphitheater up towards the Dyer-West Dyer saddle. As we neared the saddle we decided to cut the corner and beeline it directly to the ridge. We made an abrupt left and went straight up a steep talus slope. It was mostly dry until about 3/4ths of the way up where we hit a pocket of snow. It was not deep though and we quickly plowed through it to reach the east ridge of West Dyer.
Once on the ridge we were close to the summit and started up. There was more snow here than we had expected, but we were fine without traction and summited quickly. We were lucky with blue skies and virtually no wind. The views of the surrounding peaks were excellent while ascending the ridge.
At the summit we enjoyed the views for a bit and refueled while hunkering down in the elaborate wind shelter. I then hatched a plan to continue the climb as a loop. Initially, we were going to descend the way we came. However, the southwest ridge coming off West Dyer looked very inviting so we decided to give it a go. I knew from earlier research (and from scoping it out on our ascent) that it would go, and as a bonus, we would summit the "high" 12er East Ball Mountain. Ideally, this ridge would take us back down to the Iowa Gulch road without difficulty.
So, after our short rest we headed towards East Ball Mountain. The descent to the saddle was gradual with very little snow and the ascent to the East Ball summit had only 87 feet of gain. The views from the ridge along the way were fantastic and we summitted without difficulty. It seemed like every Sawatch peak could be seen from this summit. We didn't stop for long though and continued on down the ridge.
For the rest of the descent we continued down the southwest ridge for a bit more. Eventually, it became more rugged and we thought the grassy west slopes looked more appealing and headed down that instead. We then slowly worked our way back to the road and finished with a short uphill walk back to our car.
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Only 5 14ers (Sherman, Torreys, Belford, Yale and Handies). I haven't kept track of 13ers but I'd guess 50 or 60.
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