Grand County High Point Trip Report

Pettingell Peak

Date: December 6, 2003
Author: Layne Bracy

Encouraged by the conditions on James Peak two days earlier, I thought I would give Pettingell a look. The Herman Gulch trailhead (10,300 feet) is very accessible, in a parking lot just north of I-70 at exit 218.

Signed the register at 8:05 AM. The trail leads for 3 miles to Herman Lake (12,000 feet). I was very grateful for the hikers who have preceded me over recent weeks, as the trail is well-packed almost all the way to the lake. About a mile in I had my only route-finding blunder, as the trail seems to split. The correct path is left, into some willows, while I chose to go right. My path died in a few minutes and I had some mini-post-holing for 10 minutes or so before regaining the trail.

Reached the frozen Herman Lake at about 9:45 AM. I walked over to a snow gully north of the lake and began the most strenuous section of the hike. When possible, I used rocks to ascend, but most of the next 500 feet was up a snow slope. Some of the time I was post-holing to my knees, at others I found hard snow and used my axe to help me walk up. Following that initial stretch, I moved left onto a broader plateau from which most of the snow had melted. I rock-hopped as much as possible and only hit significant snow again in the final several hundred feet to the summit.

I reached the top at 11:31 AM and, after digging in snow for a minute, found the register. It had been placed in 2001. I enjoyed the summit for over half an hour as clouds blew in from the west.

On the descent, I sought out the snow. Much of the slope was too rocky to glissade, but I did do some sliding on the slope above the lake, feeling like I was getting pay-back for my efforts on the ascent. Passed a handful of folks either heading to or from the lake and reached the trailhead again at 2:02 PM. For me, a tough and very satisfying hike.