Posts Tagged ‘Ruby Range Traverse’

Two years ago my brother Grant and I set out from Paradise Divide to Yule Pass and Purple Mountain with the objective of hiking the crest of the Ruby Range to Ruby Peak in the south. Weather was one of the factors that caused us to bail half way into the traverse at Mount Richmond.

We debated trying the complete traverse again, but ended up settling on just trying the southern half – from Oh-be-joyful Pass to Ruby Peak. The shortest approach involved starting from Poverty Gulch and hiking up to Daisy Pass (just east of the crest), then reaching Oh-be-joyful Pass from there.

With a shorter hike and a great forecast, we didn’t start in the dark, but shuttled one car to Lake Irwin and were hiking by 6:30 am.

The sun caught us on our hike up to Daisy Pass and quickly warmed us up. At the pass we stripped down to shorts and t-shirts and debated how best to reach Oh-be-joyful Pass.

We could follow trail and drop down into Oh-be-joyful Basin, then regain elevation to the pass, or we could try dropping just a little way and then contour around the basin off-trail. While debating which would be faster or more efficient we caught sight of a slight trail heading up the ridge towards Mount Richmond. Humm, maybe we should be a little sporting and try to connect with our path on the crest from two years ago?

Fresh footprints on the path showed it had been recently traveled. In spots the path faded out and we picked our way around the vegetation, avoiding the steep cliff off to our right.

It was more hiking than scrambling, but one or two sections required a bit of thought. Additionally, the rock was very loose and after I knocked several large blocks into Oh-be-joyful Basin, we decided it was time for our helmets.

This portion of the Ruby Range seemed less jagged than the northern half, so while we brought a light rope and harnesses two years ago (but never needed them), this time we only brought our helmets.

Soon we reached Mount Richmond and officially connected with our old route. We also got hit by the west wind and thin jackets went on while we hiked down to Oh-be-joyful Pass, often on the shaded side of the ridge.

From the pass we had a simple hike up to Hancock Peak, then a small drop before gaining altitude to Oh-be-joyful Peak.

Ahead, it looked like there might be a small notch that could give us some problems, but th shadows deceived and the notch barely registered up close. On top of Afley, a large cairn marked the summit and Grant and I timed the 10 second delay on my camera well.

From a distance, the ridge leading up to Purple Peak looked steep. In particular, one section in the middle appeared like it could cause us difficulties, it might be very loose (like pretty much all the rock encountered today) as well as steep.

While descending Afley’s south ridge I keep watching that middle portion of the ridge and trying to spot a weakness. Luckily, the closer we approached the lower-angle it appeared, however I still thought it would be loose.

I was very surprised when we hit that section and found that it was actually quite solid rock, and it turned out to be the best portion of the scramble.

A little more scrambling and avoiding a few loose sections led us to the summit of Purple Peak. It was almost noon and the sky was cloudless. Perfect time for a lunch break.

Grant knew most of the terrain ahead, so decided to take off his helmet now and get out his trekking poles. Partway across to Mount Owen (the range’s high point) we stowed the poles away as we still found a few sections where having your hands free was a help.

Once on Mount Owen it felt like we were almost done.

Grant took over the lead as we dropped down to the last saddle of the day.

Along the way he stopped to point out the beautiful shade of Green Lake.

The wind was gusting over 20 mph at the saddle, heads down we hiked up the loose dirt to our last peak of the day. 400 feet later we found a nearly windless summit on Ruby Peak and took a last break.

Descending back to the windy saddle we picked up the trail heading down to the east and passed right by Green Lake before reaching a 4wd road.

A longer-than expected hike on the road brought us back to Lake Irwin where one of our cars was parked. Feet were cooled off in the lake before driving back to town and retrieving the other vehicle.

Like two years ago, we’d timed our Ruby Range hike with Crested Butte’s Vinotok celebration. We missed most of the trial of the Grump (surprise, they decided to burn him), but definitely caught the burning itself.

I edited together a short video of the event: Burn the Grump!

Complete photo album


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