Twining Peak & Pt. 13,500
June 24, 2012 - from Independence Pass
The previous weekend I'd spent with the climbing buddies and this weekend was reserved for the Mrs. We agreed that a weekend in Leadville was in order and that we would drive down on Saturday morning and pedal the bike trail in the afternoon. We found a good dinner afterward and then headed to camp for the night on the 4WD road up McNasser Gulch. My plan for the next morning was a quick hike of Twining Peak and the mid 13'er that guards the route to Twining proper.
For the first time ever, we arrived at the summit of Independence Pass to find a warm temperature and no wind. A true miracle but given the amount of smoke in the area, I would have gladly traded those touristic conditions for some blowing snow or a bit of morning rain. I hiked on up the flank of Pt. 13,500, knowing that I had to cross up and over this mid 13'er before coming the saddle that protected Twining. There were no route finding issues as I hiked the obvious route, i.e. furrow, toward the top of the peak as seen from the Pass parking lot. The trip up took perhaps one half hour or so before I hit a flatter area from which I started contouring to skip the summit of the 13'er proper.
I found that the flank of Pt. 13,500 was gouged out and I was forced to make for the ridge and tag the summit of the Point en route to the drop off I knew was coming. I walked the summit ridge to a point overlooking the connecting saddle before climbing up and through a bit of a boulder garden that led to the drop off to the saddle. The rock was rough granite and presented wonderful footing as I rock hopped down to a grassy path that would take me to the saddle proper. The saddle gave me a confirmatory overlook of Blue Lake, certifying that I was on course and that Twining was the peak before me . . .but for a climb of perhaps 600 vertical feet to the summit.
The climb to Twining's summit was class 1 the whole way but for a bit of meandering through some summit talus that forms the ridge crest leading to the summit proper. I passed a kind of beat up bench mark just shy of the summit and dropped my pack at the top for the requisite summit photo, marking the conclusion of a solo climb. I soon re-hefted the pack and looking down the ascent route, spotted some trail segments that seemed to indicate a course that traversed the lower flank of Pt. 13,500 in lieu of the climb back up and over. I'd found my exit route . . . and within an hour, I was back at the pass and getting ready to leave a crowd of tourons in my rear view mirror.