Big 12er loop #1: Tour de East Inlet

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Gary Neben
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Big 12er loop #1: Tour de East Inlet

Peaks: Mount Craig 12007, "Fleur De Lis" 12250, "Ptarmigans Beak" 12241, Andrews Peak 12565, Ptarmigan Mountain 12324

Dates: 06/30/2017

Post by Gary Neben » Thu Jul 06, 2017 10:04 pm

I wanted to avoid some lower elevation bushwhacks with E, NE and N aspects as I figured they would still include undesirable pockets of snow from our big winter. So I figured a good choice for some front range peaks would actually be on the west side of RMNP. This proved to work out well for what I had in mind.

Big loop #1 was Tour de East Inlet. After being delayed on the trail for 10 minutes by a moose, I eventually gained Mount Craig via the “Fourth Class Grass Route”, so called by Lisa Foster in her RMNP book. This route is not in Roach’s RMNP book although other parts of my remaining loop are in Foster’s and/or Roach’s book.
Anyway, it’s obvious why she describes this segment as “extremely steep and funnels into a narrow channel filled with dirt and loose rocks … (then) extremely steep grass slopes”: it’s simply a snow gully that melts out. I was carrying crampons and axe and hit it in near perfect condition, very sweet but short, maybe several hundred feet and ~45 degrees. You still get some steep grass when you exit but I just left my crampons on for a little while. :tongue:
After Craig I headed for the Craig - Fleur De Lis saddle. Both Foster and Roach don’t give this part of the ridge traverse much emphasis - they just say go over point 11902 and continue on your merry way. However, it actually looks very intimidating (see photo). I lost faith at one point before the first big tooth, dropped down a little ways, looked back up and saw that it really does go, climbed back up and finished ‘er off. An unexpected very nice scrambling ridge, up to class 3 or so.
From Fleur De Lis the walking was pretty easy up high so I returned back down to the East Inlet Trail as my topo shows. On the N side of Lake Verna I headed N to Ptarmigans Beak taking a path of least resistance to avoid cliffs. The traverse to Andrews and then Ptarmigan Mountain is mostly quick, easy walking.
The crux of the day was getting back down to Lone Pine Lake. Once I entered the trees, the bushwhack began. The tough part was avoiding the cliffs. I got cliffed out three times, forcing me to find some other safer way around the obstacles. It took a while but I was happy to be back at the lake and then on the trail.

A long hike back out to the truck where my happy thoughts lay waiting.
Start/End Loc: East Inlet TH, RMNP (Grand Lake)
Distance/Elevation: 24.3 miles RT/8970 feet elevation gain
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Re: Big 12er loop #1: Tour de East Inlet

Post by andrewrose » Fri Jul 07, 2017 1:22 pm

Beautiful area. Well done on a big day!

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Re: Big 12er loop #1: Tour de East Inlet

Post by JBE » Sat Jul 08, 2017 8:56 am

Love the moose, it is worth 10 minutes delay, even more.
Nice quote from Lisa Foster. Didn't who she is. it seems that she got injured in an avalanche...
Beautiful loop, thx for the TR.

Beauvais Jeanmard
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Re: Big 12er loop #1: Tour de East Inlet

Post by Beauvais Jeanmard » Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:04 am

Nice loop Gary, I've had the Ptarmigan part of the loop on my wish list since a Nov '15 visit to Grand Lake! Beautiful area!

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