Mt Lamborn (11, 396') and Landsend Pk (10, 806')

5-6 Jul 2003 - by Mary Gilbert

July 5-6, 2003 we did these prominent West Elks twin peaks SE of Paonia, Colorado. Though not very high they both involved stiff class C hiking with some bushwhacking. FWD is mostly necessary to get to the trailheads.

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7/5/03 Landsend Pk from the Bell Creek TH. Paonia quad, 8/3500'.

Driving: In Paonia, go east on 1st St, then at RR crossing immediately turn right on Onarga Rd. Follow Onarga south ~3.8 miles to a "T" intesection where pavement ends. Go left, shortly crossing beneath a powerline (look for "McCluskey Wildlife Easement" sign). Then make another left at a junction marked as 6052' on the Paonia quad.

Go ~2.3 miles on rough road (FWD or high clearance), then turn right at the "Trail" sign, crossing a creek, and go another ~0.7 miles to the Bell Creek TH where road ends. I put into FWD at this point since the gushing creek occupied some 60' of the road. After the creek stay left at another junction before the TH.

We hiked up the Bell Creek trail ~2.1 miles to an unmarked (on quad) but signed intersection at ~9400', turning right to go up the NE ridge to Landsend. The main trail goes left to Inter-Ocean Pass. Unfortunately our little path to Landsend petered out after 1/4 mile, then it was bushwhacking to the summit, crossing over a 10,079' point on the ridge. We frequently looked back to study landmarks.

The wildflowers were gorgeous; we were impressed by lots of the white Nelson's larkspur. Dorothea almost launched herself into space when a blue grouse exploded at her feet. You feel you're at the land's end on the summit! Could see the La Sals in Utah--and my sister's house on Wakefield Mesa above Paonia.

Going back it was necessary to take a compass reading because the ridge between the summit and the 10,079' point is very broad and forested, and you don't want to stray too far east or west. We aimed a bearing down the ridge at the point the main trail crosses the 9400' contour line (where the unmarked trail junction was most likely located). We descended to the 10,079' point, then from there the ridge narrowed enough for us to mostly see our route back.

We originally intended to do Lamborn after Landsend, but we returned to the trail junction about 2pm. (We had started hiking at 8am, summiting Landsend at noon.) I was nearly out of water on this very hot day, and no guarantee that we'd find some going to Lamborn. Also it was perhaps too late. We'd do it next day from the NE.

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7/6/03 Mt Lamborn from the Inter-Ocean Pass TH. Paonia/Minnesota Pass quads, 6/3050'. Paonia is only needed for the hike; but you need Minnesota Pass to avoid a wrong turn on the road--very important!! (Lacking this quad undid my sister and me when we attempted Mt Lamborn years ago. We made the wrong turn and never even got close to the peak!)

Driving: In Paonia go to east end of 2nd St and turn right on 050 Dr. Go ~1 mile and turn right on 4280. Shortly after, stay left at junction with 422 Dr. 4280 becomes gravel. From the 050 Dr. junction go ~1.4 miles on 4280 then turn left on the Lone Cabin Reservoir Road (unmarked), a slightly uphill and straight track. FWD or high clearance. Other tracks turn off here but are private.

Cross Miller Creek at 1.1 miles, staying right at a junction here. Another ~2.4 miles to Lone Cabin Reservoir, east end at dam. There are a few forks with the option of the steep or gentle road. Pass over a cattleguard with the "Gunnison NF" sign. You'll first see the reservoir from above before getting there.

Beyond the reservoir the road gets worse and scratchy with overgrown vegetation--FWD only. It gave me white knuckles in a couple of spots. ~0.7 miles beyond the dam go right at a fork with the "Inter-Ocean Pass" sign. (This junction's on the Minnesota Pass quad but track soon turns back into Paonia quad.) Go ~1.5 miles and park at a hunters' camp in aspens at ~8360'. Good place to stop, even though the road ends in another 1/2 mile at the TH.

While driving we saw some blue grouse. A witless bird started running in front of us while I was trying to maintain a minimum speed up a steep pitch. It refused to flush, and I was going faster than it! Finally the grouse flew, so I didn't run over it.

The trail climbs steeply south from its start at a drainage. We were eaten by mosquitoes. We passed by an alleged spring that didn't look very good. Near Inter-Ocean Pass we went right at the first signed intersection at 9480' to follow spotty primitive trails. Mostly bushwhacking now. Some flowers but not as much as yesterday. We wanted to keep in a drainage coming SE off the summit of Lamborn. We climbed until the water stopped but stayed in the drainage contour.

The last 200' to the top involved a brutally steep meadow--no trail. You climb a jumble of rocks (class 3) to the very top with a summit register. Good views of the West Elks (Mt Gunnison, the Beckwith Peaks, Ragged Mtn) and maybe Snowmass Mtn and Capitol Peak in the distance.

It took us about 3-1/4 hours to the summit. Coming down, we first descended the east summit ridge a bit then turned back SE into the drainage to avoid that steep meadow near the top. We looked for a "zig-zag" trail that my sister said she had taken up Lamborn (a successful trip), but couldn't find it. We followed the stream back to the signed junction than returned on the main trail.

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Suggestions:

1. Do these peaks in September when it is cooler and the fall colors (aspens, oakbrush) are at their peak.

2. Do Lamborn from the Bell Creek TH. The road is less rough than the Lone Cabin Reservoir road. Hike trail to Inter-Ocean Pass and then find the SE drainage coming off the summit. Also bear a little right high up in that drainage (above the water) to gain the east summit ridge and bypass the steep meadow.

3. Start hiking Lamborn from Lone Cabin Reservoir--if you want to avoid a paint job on your vehicle. Adds 2.2 miles one-way and another 1000' gain.

4. If conditions permit, you can do both peaks in one long day from Bell Creek. You'll be slowed by the bushwhacking. Water is indeed available on Lamborn if you're in the SE drainage.

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1615 Person Ct, Fort Collins, CO 80525 970-484-8155


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