Duncan's Peak 2010


We defy NOAA to climb Duncan's Peak.

Note: click images to see a larger version in a new window

The day before we climbed Salzburger Spitzl last week, Alex and Steve had made a late-day wild stab at Duncan's Peak but ran out of time. So after a week-long, very convoluted discussion of what we should attempt this weekend/day, we ended up going after Duncan's Peak again. This fit in with what seems to be my theme for 2010: apparently I am a good luck charm if you want to get up a peak on which you were previously denied. This was about the 6th or 7th peak that fit the theme. While this was going on, Matt and Rob invited me on a different trip (but not one they had previously tried), but accepted our invitation to join up for Duncan's.

So figuring we'd try to get there before the 30% prediction of 11am rain, snow, and/or thunder, Team Sleep Deprivation were on our feet at just past 7.


Along with quite a few others this morning, we followed the Hyndman Creek trail. However, when we got into Hyndman Basin we veered left while the trail went right.

Forks in the drainage

The basin between Hyndman and Duncan's Ridge is interspersed with rock steps and hanging meadows. This rock step was especially photogenic. That's Duncan's Ridge in the background, the ridge that leads to our goal for the day, Duncan Peak. Our peak is out of frame to the right, and also enveloped in fog/clouds.



This is looking back down the valley across one of the many hanging meadows. Spectacular country. Worth visiting even if you don't want to climb. The weather didn't look too bad, but was worth watching.

Hanging valley

Somewhere during our trek up the basin we could finally see the end and highpoint of the ridge, our goal. The route ascends to the saddle at the right of the arrow, then up the ridge that shows as the horizon. The other side of the saddle is Wildhorse Basin.

Talus and final ridge

A few old snow patches, in perfect condition today, helped us get through the talus.

Yes, I know they are going downhill in the picture. This is on the return, but I needed to show the snow to help the narrative along.

Snow climb

Just below the saddle Matt spotted the goat for the day. Thanks, Matt.

Not long after, we were above the goat and at the saddle. The wind was howling, but we found a cool little flat area out of the wind and rested for a bit.


And gathered our courage. We couldn't see much in the fog, and perhaps because of the fog the ridge above us looked kinda scary.

As you move up the ridge, a vertical wall blocks your progress just before the highpoint. To get around the wall, a right-trending ramp angles up above Wildhorse Basin.

Summit ridge

We took the ridge a bit at a time and it wasn't that bad. Kinda fun, really. I had studied the beta and photos on SummitPost, so knew we were looking for a ramp to take us across the face on the right. But the photo was a little vague and the fog wasn't helping.

Michael led off on the first promising ramp. Although Michael's ramp looked like it would go, it also looked way too long to me.

Early ramp

Based on the photo, I was looking for a ramp that was only perhaps 50 or 75 yards long. So I followed the ridge higher while everyone else followed Michael.

This is on the return, where we all took the easier (and much shorter) upper ramp.

Real ramp

From the top of the ramp, it's a quick and easy traverse to the summit. You can see it's a bit foggy, and you can also get a bit of a feel for the steepness of cliffs traversed by the ramp. Maybe the fog was a help by obscuring the dropoff?


While on the summit, Steve explained to Michael that his S.O., Chris, hates orange, such as Michael's orange jacket. I explained that to the camera lens everyone except orange Michael looked exactly like rocks. Whereupon Steve whipped out a brand-new, never-worn bright blue Smurf top. So here they are at the start of the ramp vamping in BSU orange-and-blue. Go Broncos! (for Julie)


And here's proof to my "rocks" statement. Matt is wearing the moss-green jacket in the previous picture. Can you find him here? Click for a bigger version.

If you still haven't found him, he's standing right next to blue Steve, on viewer's left.

It is only natural that when we got off the summit the clouds would lift. When they did, we could finally see our summit and the wall that the ramp traverses. We also got fantastic views of Wildhorse Basin and Mustang Peak, Brocky, Hyndman, etc.

Where's Waldo

We all got off the peak safely, descended the miles of talus, and wandered down the grassy valley. At the turn to go back to the Hyndman Creek trail, Matt, Steve, Alex, and I decided that we needed more mileage to really feel fulfilled. So we followed the ridge that separates Hyndman Creek and the North Fork of Hyndman Creek. This added some distance, and a whole bunch of elevation as we went up and down multiple humps. We carefully watched our altimeters to see if any of them had sufficient prominence (there are RULES about this stuff, dontcha know!) or Signs of Previous Human Occupations (SOPHO).

Sorry, no news to report. But we named all the bumps anyway. I just can't remember what they all were.....

Alex's pictures


Mr. Natural Home | 2010 | Back to top of page | Questions :: e-mail to splattski