Download Agreement, Release, and Acknowledgement of Risk:
You (the person requesting this file download) fully understand mountain climbing ("Activity") involves risks and dangers of serious bodily injury, including permanent disability, paralysis, and death ("Risks") and you fully accept and assume all such risks and all responsibility for losses, costs, and damages you incur as a result of your participation in this Activity.
You acknowledge that information in the file you have chosen to download may not be accurate and may contain errors. You agree to assume all risks when using this information and agree to release and discharge 14ers.com, 14ers Inc. and the author(s) of such information (collectively, the "Released Parties").
You hereby discharge the Released Parties from all damages, actions, claims and liabilities of any nature, specifically including, but not limited to, damages, actions, claims and liabilities arising from or related to the negligence of the Released Parties. You further agree to indemnify, hold harmless and defend 14ers.com, 14ers Inc. and each of the other Released Parties from and against any loss, damage, liability and expense, including costs and attorney fees, incurred by 14ers.com, 14ers Inc. or any of the other Released Parties as a result of you using information provided on the 14ers.com or 14ers Inc. websites.
You have read this agreement, fully understand its terms and intend it to be a complete and unconditional release of all liability to the greatest extent allowed by law and agree that if any portion of this agreement is held to be invalid the balance, notwithstanding, shall continue in full force and effect.
By clicking "OK" you agree to these terms. If you DO NOT agree, click "Cancel"...
This trip report is a tongue in cheek reference to jladderud's trip report, How not to climb White Rock. He describes just that - how not to climb White Rock Mountain. Other trip reports indicate that traversing between White Rock Mountain and White Benchmark just to the south to be folly, given the horrible, chalky rock quality, and that the eastern approach from West Brush Creek/Teocalli Trailhead is steep, loose, without a trail, with plenty of bushwhacking, and generally unpleasant. Whiley and I, striving for efficiency over almost everything else, sought a different way than all of the previous options. We were further spurred by a comment that Crested Butte local and 14ers.com user gb posted on someone else's White Benchmark trip report:
Thus, armed with all this information, we started on the western side of the peaks at the Copper Creek trailhead with the goal of avoiding as much of the nasty bushwhacking and crappy rock as we could. Some of both would be required, of course - this is the Elk, after all.
The trail starts just outside of the former-townsite-turned-research-station Gothic, north of Crested Butte. Looming above town is massive twelver Gothic Mountain.
Starting out as a road, the trail passes Judd Falls before turning into a trail proper. It's very easy to follow as it parallels Copper Creek.
We followed the trail for 3.66 mindless miles until we reached what we thought was the avalanche gully gb mentioned. It was really just the first obvious line towards the peaks (towards the east) that wasn't thickly forested. Note that this avalanche path is also blatantly obvious on satellite photos, which was another hint for us.
There was some minor bushwhacking at the bottom, and most of the path was full of tall grass, but overall it wasn't too bad. It does get steep, and there are some rocks in the trees, but overall this was far faster than a more direct but also more forested line and stayed at Class 2.
Soon we found ourselves against the western edge of White Rock Mountain's west ridge, and getting into terrain that was too steep to hike. We turned south and headed through the trees towards Queen Basin, only a short distance away. The forest ends abruptly and the route to White Benchmark becomes clear.
We had to continue into the basin around White Rock's ridge to get a view of the route up it. We knew not to go up the majority of the ridge. We traveled below the ridge and a large rock glacier, staying underneath a number of towers. Eventually we found the large notch with a talus slope below, which was the easiest way to gain the upper slopes to the summit.
Once at the top of the gully the remaining route is apparent - go up! The entire upper route is sustained Class 2+ on giant, surprisingly stable boulders, and was actually super fun (for the Elk).
It took us about 35-40 minutes to scramble up the peak, with the far upper reaches being a little easier. The route over to White Benchmark did indeed look pretty manky, with the worst looking part right off the summit.
We rested on the summit and discussed how bad the traverse looked. No thanks. We decided it'd be much safer to descend back to Queen Basin and climb White Benchmark from there, so down we went.
When we got back to the top of the gully we decided to contour around the extensive talus field below the peaks as best we could.
The grass was certainly quicker, and a break in the trees helped get us across the basin efficiently.
After crossing the little rib that roughly cut the basin in half, we went up a grass and talus slope to gain White Benchmark's south ridge. A trail up through the rock helped.
The ridge up White Benchmark appeared straightforward, mostly easy, but with at least some scrambling. Would it be good scrambling like on its White Rock neighbor? We were excited to find out!
The rock we encountered was simultaneously solid (for the Elk) and of dubious quality. It wasn't quite as good as the blocks on White Rock, but it was certainly better than what lay in between the two.
Atop the initial scramble we had two options: a direct but extremely loose gully, or skirting the ridge to climber's left. We chose the latter.
We eventually found a gully off the side of the ridge which took us back to the crest. Rock quality here took a dive, but the scrambling stayed at Class 2+, with most of the remaining ridge being a walk.
The crummy orange rock didn't last long and we were back on the semi-solid white stuff, which continued to the summit.
We weren't sure if it was going to rain, since clouds had been building all day, so we quickly skedaddled back down the ridge.
The ridge was much faster going down, and Whiley and I had a good laugh about the utterly ridiculous amount of mountain goat poop on the lower stretches. With thousands of peaks of all elevations between us neither of us had ever seen that much poop before. They should rename this peak to Brown Benchmark, good lord!
We'd of course passed this smirk-worthy scene on the way up, and were glad when we passed it in the opposite direction. We descended from the saddle into the lush grass (obviously it was well fertilized) and made our way back towards the northern avalanche path.
En route to the avy slope we descended slightly too early, which meant steep sidehilling through the forest. We considered going straight down but decided to take the easiest way, and bushwhacked to our ascent path.
The trail was most welcome and we made quick time back to Judd Falls, with Gothic Mountain watching from above.
When we departed for these peaks we figured they'd be your typical Elk piles of garbage. Not so. The peaks we've done on the southern side of the range have been quite a bit of fun, these included. Our low expectations were greatly surpassed, especially with the fun scrambling on White Rock Mountain. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how you climb White Rock (and White Brown Benchmark, too).
Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H. Trailhead: Judd Falls/Copper Creek
Total distance: 14.51 miles Total elevation gain: 5,829 feet Total time: 8:09:37 Peaks: Two ranked thirteeners
White Rock Mountain, 13,540' (LiDAR 13,523')
White Benchmark, 13,401' (LiDAR 13,411')
Via Time (h:mm:ss)
Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss)
Rest Time (m:ss)
Judd Falls/Copper Creek Trailhead
White Rock Mountain
White Rock Mountain
Judd Falls/Copper Creek Trailhead
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Im glad you found a decent way up it. White Rock mountain is a memory seared into my brain forever. I will never forget fumbling around on the manky crumbly area near white rock summit, having a bird fly into my face, and having to loosely cling on to a combination of graham cracker soil & goat poop while I regained my eyesight. Every time I think of this peak I laugh so hard
I think that'd be a pretty memorable experience too, having a bird attack my face on this kind of death choss. Not a good memory, certainly, but a memory nonetheless. Thanks for sharing your story, I laughed too.
These two (three w/ Redrock) are on the short list for this summer.
Trying to figure out if the Redrock ridge goes, maybe do a loop instead of an out and back.
Lots to figure out before the snow melts.
It's a 12er, just south west of the Whites...
Driving in, it's the ”red” summit across the East River, just this side of the Whites.
You walked passed going up Copper Creek.
The southern saddle of Benchmark connects to the Redrock's east ridge.
You'll see the map, and Oh yeah there it is.
Thanks for the beta, Frank! If I ever get good enough skiing to take the training wheels off, so to speak, I'll check those lines out!
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. 14ers.com 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 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.
Please respect private property: 14ers.com 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.