Christy, Lissa and I did the Gore Grand Traverse the other day. Not to be confused with the popular ski race, the Elk Mountain Grand Traverse, often discussed here on the blog and which was a grand disappointment this year, the Gore GT is a Vail area ridge traverse between North Traverse and Grand Traverse Peaks, and requires an approach and descent via two different valleys, creating a really cool loop.
Summits are fun but ridge traverses are better. They give you everything a summit provides as far as vistas and exposure but rather than just turn about face and descend, ridges keep you up high for longer so the views just keep coming, sometimes with multiple summits to tag. The added airiness of the ridge terrain and the technical challenges often encountered get you much more bang for your approach buck.
In this case, after climbing up Bighorn Creek for a couple of hours and gaining the ridge, we had two hours of scrambly hiking and climbing at just under 13,000 feet before reaching Grand Traverse Peak. From there we descended to Deluge Lake and its namesake trail, which took us down to a different trail head, and we closed the loop with a downhill bicycle ride for a mile to the truck.
The Gore’s are gorgeous. Our limited time spent exploring here has always proven to be worthwhile. Maybe it’s because the summits there aren’t as high as other ranges that reach 14K, or because of the proximity to I-70, but we’ve never really see many people around. The terrain is interesting, the rock quality pretty good and the highway actually means access is really easy. And the best part of coming from Aspen to the Gore’s that I haven’t mentioned yet– if you’re quick, you get to hit the Costco in Eagle on the way home.
Check out the GT.