Ptarmigan & Weston from Weston Pass
Most of my birthdays are spent climbing mountains and this year was no different. Although I did scale it back to a more relaxed agenda this outing.
We left Denver for a casual alpine start of 7:40 am (kidding, obviously). Since we took an extended coffee break ahead of departure we had to make a bathroom stop in Conifer. Clearly moving with purpose this day.
After grabbing snacks during our pit stop we were back on the road leaf peeping our way to Fairplay. Weston Pass from Fairplay is pretty mild for most of the road and “Suburu-able’ as we say in colorado. There are a few ruts and washboards with maybe two sections heavily rutted and filled with puddles. The higher you drive toward the pass the rockier and rougher the road gets but nothing really requiring high clearance if you’re an experienced driver.
We got to the top of the pass at 9:57 am and were the only vehicle parked at the top. A few other vehicles came up and over both sides during our hike, but we didn’t see other people the entire day.
Directly behind the Weston Pass sign is an old miners road that heads directly uphill to the saddle between Weston and Ptarmigan peak. It does fade the higher you go and becomes faint, but you can still follow easily. You can follow or deviate and make your own path, both of which we did during the ascent and descent. We followed the road on the descent, which is likely easier to follow than ascending as it tapers out.
The vertical is immediate with this hike and is fairly steep gaining the saddle before the terrain mellows out along the ridge. Once we gained the saddle we made quick work getting to Weston Peak first summiting at 12:01 pm. The wind started to pick up and after a few photos snapped and digging to find no register we were on our way to the next peak.
Most of the ridge is flat and easy for a multi-peak day. We gained a high point along the way which is probably some unranked 13,000 foot point most people don’t care about. After that we scurried back to the ridge and made our way toward the last objective, Ptarmigan peak.
The final push wasn’t bad in terms of elevation gain and we were happy to be on the summit as the clouds just consolidated and visibility was decreasing. I again searched for a register unsuccessfully before taking some photos, a video and then bolting back down to the saddle to descend to the pass.
We were back in the car just before 3 pm. The approach is somewhat loose and steep to the saddle, but most of the route is smooth sailing along the ridge. There were a couple notable cairns, specifically a white granite cairn on your way to Ptarmigan peak.
The ridge was mostly dry with pockets of snow and verglass on rocks that will likely remain for winter. The road to Weston Pass was mostly dry aside from a few puddles from recent moisture, but this will likely not be the case in coming weeks. There was mention of a register on Weston peak in past trip reports, but I was unable to find it. Hopefully it was buried and not taken by someone. Oh well, next time hopefully I find it!