TR - (CO) Hassell Pk, Pettingell Pk, The Citadel, Hagar Mtn, Golden Bear Peak (NSR)
2006/06/11 - "Hassel Pk", Pettingell Pk, "The Citadel", Hagar Mtn, "Golden Bear Pk"
Via Butler Gulch to Loveland Ski Area
11 Miles, 5,000'
4:30a - 8:00a Butler Gulch to "Hassell Pk"
8:00a - 9:00a "Hassell Pk" to Pettingell Pk
9:00a - 10:30a Pettingell Pk to "The Citadel"
10:30a - 11:30a "The Citadel" to Hagar Mtn
11:30a - 1:00p Hagar Mtn to "Golden Bear Pk"
1:00p - 2:30p "Golden Bear Pk" to Exit 161 on I-70
Phew, this is a good one. Ive been wanting this traverse for about 2 years now . After creeping its way up the list, it finally reached number 1, and we were off! We ditched a car at exit 161 Loveland Pass, and drove around to Butler Gulch to begin the traverse. Leaving the TH at 4:30a, we set off up the Butler Gulch trail, me sans headlamp ( I forgot it with my camera at home ). Fortunately the moon was large, and provided me with just enough light to avoid the puddles. Butler Gulch is pretty wet right now, and there are still several patches of snow on the trail. Crossing Butler Gulch was a bit of a challenge, as the log crossing was very icy. We crawled across to the midway point, then a good leap sufficed for the remainder. Thanks to our alpine start, we were able to stay atop the snow as we hiked through the trees enroute to the saddle between 12,109' and 12,317'. I had been up here a couple years ago and rode off 12,109' in the winter (a popular BC destination) so I was familiar with the area. From the saddle it was a nice dry stroll to the Continetal Divide and our first summit of the day, "Hassell Peak"
The views of the Gore Range from the Divide were the best I've seen yet. Perfect amount of snow to really highlight all the various peaks and routes. This is probably my favorite time of year for this reason (also snow covered scree ) The traverse ahead looked great, as did the weather. We encountered little snow once on the Divide proper. Let me just say that if you are considering this route, do it north-south. Reason A being that the East Ridge of Pettingell is tons of fun, and probably the best route on Pettingell. Lots of good 3rd class scrambling is there for the taking. Reason B is the Pettingell - Citadel traverse. Sans rope I wouldn't feel too comfortable downclimbing the crux if you went south - north. You could always drop down and around the crux (sketchy) but more fun to have the rope for the rappell. Anyway, after Pettingell we began the traverse, and it was tons of fun. Plenty of good scrambling and dramatic positions. The crux is considered to be around 5.4. Initially I tried to climb a black chimney to the west of the standard route, because it was there. But I reconsidered about half way up, and downclimbed back to the base. From here I found the start of the 5.4 pitch, which is slighlty overhanging. Luckily the hardest move in my opinion is at the bottom so you can get a good feel on whether or not youre comfortable with it. After a few more moves, we reached a ramp with an exit on the right, or west side. From the top of this the climbing relents and we quickly headed over to the summit.
The Citadel summit is one of the best in the Front Range. A couple of boulders are the top, with the southern one being highest. After a quick trip over to The Citadels East summit, we were off headed towards Hagar Mtn. the first scree of the day presented itself here, but it wasnt to bad. More scrambling and a couple fun knife edge sections are encountered on the way to Hagar. These could be avoided but we stayed on the ridge crest for enjoyment purposes. At the summit of Hagar, we were starting to feel the effects a little bit, and were glad to only have Golden Bear left, an easy walk. We took several breaks along the Divide and finally reached Golden Bear, our 5th summit of the day. From here we glissaded down whatever we could find down to the Loveland Ski Area, and the Eisenhower Tunnel. We were treated to a nice highway hike for the finish.
All in all a great traverse and highly recommended. It can be cut in half if you so desire. As stated before I would personally advise going N to S to maximize climbing enjoyment!