Kuss Peak (13,548′) | CO Rank: Unranked
Mosquito Peak (13,781′) | CO Rank: 115/637
Treasurevault Mountain (13,701′) | Unranked
Mosquito Range | Pike National Forest | Alma, CO
07/10/20 | 8.25 miles | 2,818′ gain | Class 2
I really needed to climb a mountain. After yet another failed 14er attempt the weekend before, I decided three 13ers would be appropriate redemption. My friend Tori and I got an early start, arriving just after 7am. I’d read that some people had issues navigating to the unmarked “trailhead” so I was extra careful to make sure our route on Google Maps was accurate. Thankfully we didn’t have any trouble.
The Mosquito Range as a whole generally gets a lot of “hate” as it’s quite simply not as scenic as other areas of Colorado, but the gentle beauty of the Mosquitos has always held a special place in my heart. Today’s route started from the uppermost portion of Mosquito Creek in a pretty basin dotted with small lakes and a ton of mining remnants. The general goal was to form a loop which would include three 13ers: Kuss, Mosquito, and Treasurevault.
It seems that most people do this route clockwise and we did the same. From the parking area we hiked south on the road to Mosquito Pass. The road becomes a very rocky 4wd road soon after the parking area and for once I was glad to walk instead of drive. (My Crosstrek never would have made it.)
Somehow Tori had never seen a columbine before so of course she was happy to finally come across some particularly large individuals. Once we climbed a bit higher on the road we could see the peaks we were aiming for. There are a number of interconnecting roads in the area (all unmarked) and I had to occasionally consult my map to make sure we stayed on the main road.
After a pretty easy first mile we reached the remnants of the North London Mine. There is an interpretive sign here telling of the mine’s history. Much of the visible ruins are from the aerial tramway, the first of its kind in Colorado, built in 1882 to transport ore to the mill 1,000′ below.
After we were done investigating the ruins we continued up the road to the saddle between London Mountain and Kuss Peak. From the saddle we left the road and hiked up easy talus to the summit of Kuss. We did find some trail fragments here and there but we mostly picked our own way.
We soon reached the summit which has a tower and various equipment, as well as the most alpine sunflowers I’ve ever seen in one place. Alpine sunflower are also known as Old Man of the Mountain (my preferred name for them) and the jokes about how many old men were on this particular mountain never got old. We took a quick break behind the stone shelter to get out of the wind before making our way to the next peak.
Our next objective was Mosquito Peak, the tallest and only ranked peak of the day. To get there, we hiked down the north ridge of Kuss to the Kuss/Mosquito saddle. I was surprised to find a well worn path nearly the entire way.
Mosquito looked insanely tall from the saddle but in reality was only about 500′ higher. It took no time at all to summit and we were soon excited about our third and final peak of the day!
The descent off Mosquito’s north ridge seemed a little steeper and looser than anything we’d hiked on so far, but was still the standard easy talus common throughout this area. We stopped to look at the abandoned mining equipment near the Mosquito/Treasurevault saddle before ascending Treasurevault.
Treasurevault isn’t ranked so we had less than 300′ of climbing left. It was (surprise!) all easy talus. We took one last quick break before the descent. Our route so far had been very straightforward and obvious but the descent back to the car took a little bit more concentration.
From Treasurevault’s summit we hiked north and then east, following a gentle ridge. The gradual slopes just south of Mount Tweto led us into the upper part of the basin. It was important to keep as far north as possible here to avoid a steep slope. We knew that we had to cross the basin and connect with an old road but we couldn’t actually see the road from where we were. However, hiking east and then south across the grassy basin eventually connected us with the road which we were able to follow all the way back to the parking area.
We were pretty tired by the time we found the road so it felt like it took forever to get back to the car. By the time we neared the parking area, there were dozens of people milling about. We saw a ton of human/burro pairs coming down from Mosquito Pass as well. I learned that day that this is a common event for this area!
This ended up being a pretty fun and easy route and a good way to get three (or more!) 13ers.