Jefferson County Highpoint Trip Report

Buffalo Peak (11,589 ft)

Date: October 14, 2006
Author: Dave Covill

Ken Jones, Ron Tagliapietra, and I arrived at Stony Pass TH (8,500 feet) at 7:30 and we began to hike almost immediately. Got to about 9,500 feet and it started to snow very lightly. It continued all day long. Ken used his Gecko GPS unit to make about 5 waypoints, which turned out to be very useful. We followed the line up past several rocky knobs to the summit area and scrambled up the northeast corner of the first (false) summit outcrop. We traversed to the western one, which seemed to be maybe 5 feet higher. Hard to tell, as the fog and snow precluded proper leveling; light was insufficient to make out the other outcrop through the lens and it is only maybe 100 yards apart! It took us 4:20 up, arriving at noon.

On the descent, we hung out under a fir tree and had a sandwich near the summit, then headed down. We immediately got off track and headed too far right (east) following a false ridge. Ken's GPS saved us and we used it all the way down. It became very foggy, with moderate snowfall, as we descended. Rocks were not bad but downed tree trunks were very slippery. The snow turned to rain back down around 9,000 feet. It took us 3:15 to descend, as we had to stop many times to figure out where we were. I was amazed at how truly amorphous the terrain can be; all rocks and steep slopes and dense trees. The trees turned from Ponderosa to Aspen to Lodgepole to Fir as we ascended and it was a shame it hadn't snowed enough to stick on the way up, as we could have followed our footprints down. The Stony Pass road is a bit rough but easily do-able by a Subaru or 2WD small pickup, perhaps a Mitchler/Covill Grade 3 road.

We encourage folks to use a GPS and watch for hunters this time of year (we saw none and wore blaze orange hats down low).