Trail Report - Mount Yale - Colorado

August 23, 2017

Written by Paul van Valkenburgh

Showing Small Pictures    

Mount Yale! Colorado - 14,196'
South Face Route
9.5 Miles Round Trip
4300 feet of elevation gain



Mount Yale From Horn Fork Basin


Mount Yale is in the Collegiate Peaks of the Sawatch Range just outside of Buena Vista. If you're looking for a great challenge a bit outside of a pure class 1 walk up , this is a great choice. Most of the hike is a normal hiking trail but near the summit there is a high ridge that provides a great foray into scrambling with a wee bit of exposure.


Another great thing about Mt. Yale's standard route up the South Face is that the parking is super-easy! The Denny Creek trailhead is right off a paved road and accessible by any car!


Trailhead Parking Area


Trailhead Sign


Trailhead Sign


Trailhead Sign


Heading up the trail, the alpine areas are neat with a few turns and creek crossings. As you begin to move up, you can really notice the work that the Colorado 14ers Initiative has done on this trail ... it is just great. Higher up in the alpine areas, the trail does get steep! And it remains steep pretty much all the way up the face to the summit ridge. But no worries, the trail work makes even the steepest sections very easy (other than the cardio of going up!!).


Cool Creek Crossing On Trail


Beautiful Aspen Trees


Up The Steep Trail Heading Towards Tree Line


Once you break out of the trees, the views open up. What a gorgeous area. The trail winds all the way up the face until you hit the saddle and the summit ridge.


Beautiful Trail Scenery


Beautiful Trail Scenery


Beautiful Trail Scenery


Looking Back Down The Wonderful Trail


Marmot On Trail


Beautiful Scenery Moving Up Mt Yale Trail


Approaching Final Push To Ridge


Steep Slope Before Saddle


Looking West Heading Up Steep Slope


Steep Slope Before Saddle


Steep Slope Before Saddle


Approaching The Saddle And Start Of Ridge


The summit ridge!! This is where the fun begins! In retrospect, the summit ridge was really not bad at all. But this was one of the first few 14ers I had climbed, and I was solo, and it was a bit intimidating. Part of what unnerves the newbie is that it is just so high up! It is just airy! Imagine you were on a secure edge of a skyscraper. There's no real danger of falling but you're just so high it makes you a bit nervous. And 5-10 feet away there is actual exposure! You're not really exposed though as you don't end up having to go along the very edge. But this is the great part of this ridge. It really made me get used to being up so high and seeing some exposure where subsequent 14ers with some exposure have started to get much easier.


Looking Up Ridge To The Summit


Once On The Ridge It Is Breathtaking


Looking Back To The Saddle


Looking Back Down Part Way Up Ridge


Moving Further Up The Ridge


Exposure Off The North Side Of Ridge


The views from the summit of Mount Yale are incredible. To the North you see the gorgeous Horn Fork Basin which leads up Mount Harvard and Mount Columbia. To the West you see tons of gorgeous peaks with the 3 Apostles and Huron Peak standing out. And to the South are the southern Sawatch peaks of Mount Princeton, Mount Antero, Mount Shavano, Tabeguache Peak and then beyond.


Walking Onto The Summit


Paul Made The Summit


Summit View West To Huron And 3 Apostles


View North To Harvard And Columbia


View South To Princeton And Antero


I really loved this hike.


Hope this has been enjoyable and / or helpful to anyone reading it!!


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