Calico Basin 5-Peak Hike (1/hr)

pics by Harlan W. S.
Oct 23, 2007


This hike involves ~7.5 miles and 3000’ accumulated elevation gain by map; but the true elevation gain may be more like 4000’, since the ridges are extremely serrated, with almost constant up-and-down with a 10’ amplitude that doesn’t show up in the maps.  The drops between peaks 3,4 and 5 are only 200’ so they wouldn’t qualify as separate peaks under the Colorado rule. 


Don’t be deceived by the modest elevations; the middle 5.5 miles of the hike are nearly non-stop scrambling, with a touch of class 4. I take a vacation day to do this hike, whenever I want to purge my mind; the constant decision-making for routes displaces worldly worries.  The navigation between peaks 3 and 5 is particularly mind-absorbing.




View W. The east end of peak 1 (actually a serrated ridge, called Kraft Mt.) comes into view.  One can actually climb the backside of the tower via exposed class 3.


View back E from the top of the tower.  This is not the highpoint of Kraft.





View NW from the highpoint of peak 1; Turtlehead is the main peak just L of center, and Madre is R of Turtlehead.


This panorama, on the way up peak 2, was taken several years before.  The Peaks are labeled.  Peak 3 (Turtlehead Jr., aka Redcap) is hidden by peak 2. The blue line represents a deep hidden cut between Peaks 4 and 5.


Approaching Peak 2.  The small register on top, placed in 2004, is full with names, many from foreign countries.





The last push to Peak 2.


Looking back E from the W end of Peak 2.


Now we’ve navigated up the N side of Peak 3 (Redcap). One cuts L…





…up this cave.


This is the crux of the route to Peak 3.  There is a valley between the two summits; one must climb down into this valley, and climb L over this boulder.


The tinaja near the top of Peak 3 still had some water.





From the top of Peak 3 (Redcap), view E, with the peaks numbered.  Peak 1 (Kraft Mt.) is largely hidden by Peak 2.


This is the largest tank between Peaks 3 and 4.  I’ve never seen this tank full, though the tank to the N was full.


Approaching the top of Peak 4; view E.





From top of Peak 4, view E.


On descending Peak 4, the big “Calico Tank” (the one with the trail) comes into view.


Briefly one passes by Calico tank en route to Peak 5.





View back over Calico Tank to Turtlehead.  The route to Peak 5, on the east end of the mountain, is exposed and involves some “big” moves.


This is the TOP of peak 5; this very deep tank is very near the summit.


View SW to Red Rocks, from top of Peak 5.





Now one descends down the E-W gully.  The mountain in the distance is the same peak seen from the top of Peak 4 (photo above).


The descent in the slot is actually one of the hardest parts of the trip. Here one looks down a vey deep chimney, with a 40’ drop to the bottom.


Another deep dark section on the way out.





The last tough spot involves squeezing through a narrow hole, and pulling your pack behind you.