The Music pass road seemed rougher than when I drove it last year to climb Tijeras, and I only made it to within ~0.5 mile of the end this time in my Explorer. I backpacked down and up to Upper Sand Creek Lake.
The next day I left camp at 6:30 and found the good ramp up into the basin and arrived at the Cottonwood pass/Milwaukee notch. After hearing about the exposure on the ramp I was nervous. It certainly was less than 2 feet at its narrowest (more like 1 inch), but the handholds were great and I waltzed over the narrow section and up the ramp. I had also read of difficulties after the ramp with route finding so was again concerned. I continued up the ramp stopping as it started to descend, then started climbing directly up from that point. There was one difficult move (more of a stretch) at the beginning, then I went straight up with no problems. I guess I was lucky. I was on the summit at 9AM, and the weather was great.
I continued down and up the ridge to Pico, stopping a hundred feet below the ridge on the south at about 13400 and surveyed the mountain. It looked really steep from here. From this vantage point there are 2 main gullies starting up the centre of the mountain. The right hand one starts out briefly as a grass ramp. Then about half way up the mountain I thought it looked better to cut over to the left (South) to avoid the steepness. So I downclimbed slightly to get to the right hand gully and scrambled up, exited left out of the gully and climbed left on mostly solid conglomerate to the SE ridge, then onto the summit. It was easy class 3 scrambling. Again perhaps I got lucky with the route. I was on the summit at 10:20.
The day was still a beautiful "September Blue", so I decided to bag 13020 (11:20) and return by dropping down into Cottonwood Creek. There isn't much remarkable to report about this. The descent to the small lake at 11820 was ugly loose talus. I never really found the trail which apparently is faint in the valley and then is well defined "well to the north of the side of the drainage towards the upper reaches of Cottonwood Creek". Earlier, I could easily see the many switchbacks of the trail when I was on the Milwaukee/Pico ridge. Instead I ended doing some fun scrambling up a right to left ascending ramp then up a gully, exiting to the left then easy climbing back to the notch. It was then 2:30. On the way out I probably should have also bagged Marble Mountain but I was tired. I returned back at camp at 3:40. Ah, Pringles.
The next day I had hoped to climb Music Mountain or return to Marble Mountain, but it rained all night and was very windy. It still raining and windy in the morning so I left early. Overall a wonderful weekend in the Crestones.
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