Horseshoe Mountain (13,898′) & Peerless Mountain (13,348′) | Colorado | 07/14/19

Horseshoe Mountain (13,898′) | CO Rank: 72/637

Peerless Mountain (13,348′) | CO Rank: Unranked

Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Fairplay, CO

07/14/19 | 6.93 miles | 2,313′ gain | Class 1

After posting my Gray Wolf Mountain trip report on (I copied and pasted my blog post there), I received an email from Allie, a girl I’d spoken to in passing on that hike. She’d recognized Otis from my pictures and thought maybe I’d like to hike 13ers with her sometime. My answer was a very enthusiastic “YES!” and after two weeks, we were able to plan our first 13er together.

We threw a few ideas around but ultimately settled on Horseshoe Mountain. Horseshoe is a Centennial Peak, meaning it’s one of the 100 highest peaks in Colorado. While not my first Centennial (I’ve done 10 14ers), it was my first Centennial 13er, so exciting nonetheless!

My alarm came too early as it always does. 2:30 am, really!? But I was meeting Allie in Denver at 4:00 so we could be on the trail around 6:00. There was (as there always is in monsoon season) a chance of storms around noon, so we needed to give ourselves plenty of time to finish safely.

We made our introductions just after 4:00 and promptly hit the road. We had almost an entire day to get to know each other, so fingers crossed we would get along! After a two hour drive, we turned onto Silver Horseshoe Drive, which ultimately turns into an old mining road. We had taken Allie’s Jeep, so we decided to drive up the road as far as we could to cut our hike a little shorter. We hit snow about a 1/2 mile up and parked at a nice pull-off. The standard route continues along the mining road all the way up to the Horseshoe/Peerless saddle (just right of the below picture).

Horseshoe Mountain is aptly named for its horseshoe-shaped cirque.

The main road was mostly snow free. We trekked through some snowfields and went around others. The maze of mining roads made finding a dry route pretty easy.

Gorgeous basin

The road walk made for a wonderfully gradual climb up to the saddle. We stopped often to admire the abundance of wildflowers or check out some mine ruins.

Mine ruins, more recent than some of the stuff I’ve seen.
Old Man on the Mountain

The views opened up as we climbed and the dogs were being very photogenic for us as well!

Otis with much of our route below.
Otis (Photo by Allie)
Otis and Harper taking a break for some shenanigans (Photo by Allie)
Leavick Tarn
A mine shaft. We remained hopeful that we’d find one we could see into, but they were all closed.
Almost to the saddle! (Looking out)

The only unavoidable snowfield was right below the Horseshoe-Peerless saddle. We aimed for the narrowest section and as we got closer, we could see a boot track through it. It was much easier than expected to cross the snow, not really steep at all!

Peerless Mountain
So much color today!

Once we reached the top of the saddle, we could see much of our remaining route.

Peerless Mountain (center), Mount Sheridan (left), Mount Sherman (right, background)
The final leg up Horseshoe!

Now we were on an actual trail and no longer on a road. It was still easy to follow and we made surprisingly quick work of this section.

Saddle views to the Sawatch.
Typical trail conditions. Sherman & White Ridge dominate the background. Peerless looks small now that we’ve climbed higher!

The summit ridge of Horseshoe was very long and flat. We walked along it until we reached the large summit cairn. But our true destination was an old cabin that we’d heard of, now we just needed to find it! As we walked, it eventually came into view.

Horseshoe’s summit looking north
Horseshoe’s summit looking south
The cabin

The interior of the cabin was full of snow, FEET of snow, so we sat outside for our summit snack. On the way back, we stopped at the true summit for our summit photos.

Take One. Otis, what are you doing!? (Photo by Allie)
Take Two. That’s better! (Photo by Allie)

Allie’s dog Harper decided she should be in Otis & my summit photos. She’s so cute I couldn’t say no! We followed the same trail back down to the Horseshoe-Peerless saddle, and somewhere along the way I broke the news to Allie that I wanted to snag Peerless too. (I mean it’s just RIGHT THERE!) She doesn’t care much for unranked peaks but who am I to judge how tall a peak is? I like them all! Once we got to the “top”, I couldn’t tell which bump was the tallest so I stood on both. (Better to be safe than sorry, I guess.)

Heading back from the second bump. Still don’t know which one is the tallest. (Photo by Allie)

On the first bump, the second bump looked higher. On the second bump, the first bump looked higher! Which one is the highest? We may never know! (Peerless is just so difficult!) Well regardless, we topped out on Peerless and then hiked back down to the saddle, through the snow field, and followed the mine roads back down to the Jeep. We tried to follow our ascent route on the mine roads but forgot to pay attention and ended up descending a different way. You remember I’d mentioned earlier about the mine road maze? They all eventually connect in one way or another so we just kept heading in the general direction of the Jeep and wouldn’t you know it, we were dumped out right where we started. The weather held out for us all morning and it was just starting to sprinkle as we reached the Jeep. A safe and successful summit day!

While we had much success on our hike, our quest for a delicious post-hike lunch was much less successful. Allie mentioned a drive-thru burger place that sounded good but they’d shut the grill down right as we pulled up (umm rude!?) so we fought traffic to get to the next Subway, where we realized we couldn’t turn in from the eastbound side. Excuse me, we’re starving to death here! Allie flipped a u-turn at the next intersection and we quite literally sped to get our much deserved sandwiches.

Finally fed (but still tired) we made the long drive home. I can’t wait until we can get together again!


13 thoughts on “Horseshoe Mountain (13,898′) & Peerless Mountain (13,348′) | Colorado | 07/14/19

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