Colorado, Hiking, United States

Colorado Hiked: Cupid and Grizzly Peak D

June 4, 2022

With twelve 14,000 feet peaks under my belt, I oddly enough had not been to the top of a 13,000 foot peak (or “13er). Colorado mountain climbers can be funny like that… so with some approaching mountaineering and climbing trips, I decided an early June morning was the perfect time to finally stand on a 13er!

The destination was the 13ers of Loveland Pass – Cupid, Grizzly Peak D (there’s numerous peaks in Colorado named Grizzly Peak, hence the “D”), and Mount Sniktau. These mountains are easily accessible – almost stupidly easy, considering a lot of the 13ers do not have established trails. The road over Loveland Pass is maintained year round, and there’s trails to these mountains! I set an early alarm, and headed out for the 2.5 hour drive from Cheyenne.

Have to love the trailhead elevations in Colorado

Because I was trying to get some training under my belt for Mount Adams and Mount Saint Helens later in the month, I loaded up my 65L Gregory backpacking pack with weight, strapped on the ice axe (still wintry conditions after all), and laced up the mountaineering boots. I was probably quite the sight to the typical tourist hiker in sneakers and jeans, but hey, I need the practice!

My plan was to summit the three peaks, starting with Cupid and Grizzly D (which requires resummiting Cupid), and then heading over to Mount Sniktau if weather held and I was still feeling okay. Immediately from the parking area (which at 7:00am was darn near full!) the trail starts ascending. The ground was frozen and hard, but dirt pack.

Getting a start on the day’s hiking adventure

I reached the spur in the trail, and turned right to start over to Cupid. I ran into two guys who began chatting me up and we discussed climbing Cascades volcanoes and other hiking goals as we made our way up to Cupid. For some reason I was feeling the elevation, so I eventually dropped back off their pace. Still great to make a few single serving trail friends!

Looking towards Cupid
Sometimes you take a photo that makes things look more epic than they really were!
Using my bun to block the sun during this selfie, ha!

Cupid (which is actually an unofficial name, technically it is known as UN13117) stands 13,117 feet tall. The summit is pretty broad, but easy to pick out where the high point is. I took the chance to have a snack and grab some photos before heading towards Grizzly D, which sits about 1.25 mile away.

Summit photo on Cupid! My first 13er!

The hardest thing about linking together peaks is the fact that it is a given you will have to lose elevation in order to gain the next summit. And elevation I lost as I descended to the saddle between Cupid and Grizzly. The entire time I was thinking “oh no, oh no, I gotta go back up this!” since it is an out-and-back trip to Grizzly. There were a few tricky and challenging parts over rocks that required some focus, but otherwise it was not a bad trip down. It is 350 feet of loss to the first saddle, a short climb to reach Point 12,936, and then another 100 foot of loss.

A look at the path to Grizzly D. If you squint, you can make out tiny people

Then it began. Grizzly D is a bear of a climb, with 700 feet of climbing to gain the summit. It is loose scree and rubble, and with my pack weight and general slowness of the day, it felt like for every two steps I took I really only gained one. While it was still a brilliant blue sky day, I began to be hit by the wind. One step at a time!

Heading off the point and dreading the final climb up Grizzly
Up Grizzly I slog

Luckily thanks to my general slow climbing of the day, I had the 13,427 foot summit to myself as everyone else had started making their way back down that were in front of me. I sat down with a view of Torreys Peak for a quick snack and took in the snowy scene.

Summit photo on Grizzly Peak D
Looking towards Torreys Peak (14,272) and Grays Peak (14,275) while I ate a snack
Pikes Peak looking like a beast off in the distance
Looking towards Sniktau and other mountains from the summit
The wind had picked up, as demonstrated by my hair

Going down Grizzly was not necessarily fun with the wind, loose scree, and my center of gravity being thrown off by the pack I was wearing, but I figured it was good training. Now the “fun” part… regaining Cupid.

Looking towards Point 12,936 and Cupid beyond that. I was able to get a short glissade in on the other side of this point which was a lovely touch!
The rocky ridge on the way back to Cupid
Looking towards the route that heads to Sniktau
Always fun to be seeing snow in June. The clouds had built considerably by the time I was wrapping up.

By the time I skirted the summit of Cupid by staying on snow and choosing a flatter elevation path, I decided I did not have it in me to try for Mount Sniktau. The winds had picked up, and I was feeling exhausted with my foray into the thin air with a heavy pack.

Hey, I was just up there a little bit ago!

Not all was lost, as Mount Sniktau is a good winter climb option, so I was not heartbroken to not grab that summit! Loveland Pass is plowed all winter since hazardous cargo must go over the pass (versus travel through the Eisenhower Tunnel on I-70), and Sniktau never really acquires heavy snowpack and has a decently safe winter route. I shall return!

So much up and down made this a tough day!

Details:
Date Hiked: June 4, 2022
Trailhead: Loveland Pass
Total Mileage: 6.02 miles (Garmin Vivoactive 4s/Strava) with 2,370 feet of elevation gain
Time: 5 hours 13 minutes (told you I wasn’t fast today)
Weather: Clear, sunny, with increasing winds. Temperatures 36-50F
Trail Conditions: Dry/frozen dirt early on, changing to snow covered (firm at first, postholing later on), and mud to finish it off
Special Considerations: Loveland Pass is a popular area for hiking and backcountry skiing/snowboarding, so parking can fill up quickly. The entire hike is well above treeline, so be aware of thunderstorms and weather conditions, as there is not a lot of hiding places on wide open tundra.

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