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Trip Report    

Columbia Peak/West Spur

Sept 6-7 2014. Climb of Silver Tip and Columbia Peak. We met at the Barlow Pass at 8:00AM and started our 4 mile bike ride to old Monte Cristo town site. At about 1.5 miles we need to cross the Sauk River where the bridge washed out years ago. Looked but did not find a good way to cross, so hauled our bikes over some brushy logs to get over the first channel and waded the 2nd. From the town site hiked up to Poodle Dog pass and down to camp at Silver Lake. After setting up camp and lunch it was off to Silver Tip Peak, the route takes you across the lake’s outlet and climbing boot trails to ridge above the lake. Follow the climber trail on the ridge dropping off to the right where needed led us to the summit. Where we roped up for a short 4th class pitch and then scrambled the summit. Where we enjoyed the views and gave us a good look at Columbia Peak. After a break we rappelled the 4th class pitch and down the ridge back to camp.

Left camp the next morning about 6 headed up the twin lakes trail to the lake’s view point. From there we followed the climber trail along the ridge until it disappeared and we were forced off the ridge. We chose to go left on to some moderate steep heather and traverse until we could regain the ridge and the climber trail, which led us up the steep heather slope and across some meadows, scree slope (stayed high) through minor cliff band. At the dark buttress we went left and up the moderate snow field to a notch which led to a rocky basin with a snow field which was hard so we went left on the rocks/scree/dirt to head wall with a ramp leading right which we followed up and left. At this point one member of the group had enough. So after much discussion it was decided he would remain on the bench in the sun, enjoy the view and lunch while the rest of us finished the climb and returned. So from the bench there was a short 4th class move (not much exposure) which led to the two broad gullies of fun 2nd and 3rd class scrambling on slabby rock bringing us to the base of the summit block. We chose to go left around to the northeast side of the summit block which led to short scramble to the summit. Spent some time on the summit enjoying the 360 views and grabbing a bite to eat. Then it was time to go, we carefully down climbed the 2nd and 3rd class gullies, rejoined our climbing partner on the bench. We then reverse ourselves to camp with one detour to try to avoid the heather traverse by going left but that did not work out, so we did the traverse. On the bike ride out, we found a wide log with steps cut into to cross the river. It is located just upstream from the Gothic basin trail.
The west spur on Columbia was one of the better ridge runs I have done recently. I enjoyed the climb and my climbing partners.