Babcock Traverse

In this day and age with lines of people trying to summit mountains, the La Plata Mountain range has for the most part kept people away. With steep vertical approaches and no cairns, it can be challenging.

Speaking of the lack of cairns, my partner and I had attempted this Traverse previously. We ended up in the middle of Babcock West and Middle Babcock. The ridge became impassable without more technical gear. So, we did a loop heading down a coulouir instead. Still, a good day, but the Traverse is where you want to be.

Flash forward to this past weekend we were successful in the Traverse. In full disclosure, my partner and I are comfortable climbing 5.6ish vertical without ropes. We always wear helmets. And, I can confidently say that I would not attempt a summit with someone not wearing a helmet. This area is notorious for “San Juan Choss.”

Last weekend, we headed up a vertical climb up Babcock East, maybe 5.3-5.4. There is a coulouir to the right that is a lot of scree that would be an easier approach. I, personally, would rather climb verticle than deal with loose scree.

As aforementioned, the rocks are loose. But, there are different rocks that lead the way. And, there are enough stable rocks to not feel uncomfortable.

There were also an abundance of wildflowers that day thanks to some recent rain. The most notable were the skypilots. A true high altitude flower that grows vertical and horizontal along the cracks.

Even in July, there is still snow up in the La Platas. However, it is easy to navigate.

The ridge is exhilarating. It is narrow and firm. It is exactly what I hope to find in a Traverse.

After the ridge, we felt the front of the next Summit a tad steep. We headed down a couloir on the west back side and it was easy scrambling to the summit. You can spot the route in the photo below to the left where you can see grass.

Once on the summit, there is a clear 360 view of this area.

The next part of the Traverse is steep decline towards a smaller summit with a bridge. The bridge is narrow, but secure. The transition to the summit is very loose and should be treated with caution since there is a cliff.

Overall, a great trail run/scramble, I would highly recommend this route. It leaves you feeling accomplished, it’s challenging and no crowds! 7.5 mile lollipop run with an elevation gain of 5,146 feet.

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