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Patterson’s Peak

Summit Elevation (m): 2728
Elevation Gain (m): 1600
Round Trip Time (hr): 8
Total Trip Distance (km): 16.5
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you sprain your ankle
Difficulty Notes: No technical difficulties as part of a traverse from Serendipity Peak. A long day with routefinding from hwy 40. NOTE: This trip includes two summits.
GPS Track DownloadDownload GPX File
Technical Rating: SC5; YDS (3rd)
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After grunting my way up Serendipity Peak, I didn’t linger long in the fierce winds at the summit but turned my attention quickly towards a distant looking Patterson’s Peak. Actually, my first glance towards Patterson’s made it appear much closer than I was expecting. It’s not until I actually started descending to the Pyriform S5 / Patterson’s col that I realized it was further than I first guess. Typical. (Don’t confuse Patterson’s Peak with Mount Patterson in Banff, which I’ve skied. The former is a relatively newly named summit – August of 2000 – and much easier.)

Patterson’s & Serendipity Peak Route Map

As soon as I dipped off the south ridge just below Serendipity’s windy summit, the gale pretty much vanished. The winds on this particular day were strange. I spent 75% of the day in zero to very light winds. 10% of the day was in hurricane-force gusts that threatened to topple me over! The remaining 15% was transitioning between sublime and warm to cold and windy. Usually I get one or the other of these in the front ranges. I really enjoyed the 90% which made the 10% worth it.  The traverse to the low col involved a bit of easy scrambling and some routefinding to avoid some slabs but nothing even moderate – it was easy terrain with low consequence. I thought about traversing higher towards Pyriform S5, but there’s really no point, especially in the winds I had at that elevation. So Nakagawa tried to scramble that peak, as did Andrew Nugara and neither of them made it, so I certainly wasn’t going to bother trying.

One of Pyriform’s outliers through the small rock arch near the col. Click here for a B&W version of this photo.

I was pleasantly surprised with the views from the col. Yes – the views back along my descent from Serendipity were a wee bit depressing since I’d have to regain all that height, but the views south down Head Creek towards Mount Head and north over a lovely alpine bowl along Pyriform S5 towards Lineham Twin Peaks and other peaks of Pyriform were stunning. A small rock arch near the col provided me with some pretty cool photos. The east face of Pyriform S5 was also very impressive. I finally took a break here and pondered the wonderful scenery – once again reminding myself that front ranges aren’t always underwhelming. The switchbacked road running up to Gypsum Summit was pretty neat. That ‘small’ ridge takes a bloody long approach to attain! After my break, which included some Starbucks instant coffee, I felt refreshed to start up Patterson’s Peak.

As expected, the grunt up the false summit was easy, but a bit tiring. The coffee certainly gave me more energy than I was feeling up Serendipity though. I didn’t pay enough attention to my GPS and ended up going too high on the false summit. To save your legs, you should stay about 50 vertical meters off this peak and traverse around its easy south slopes instead. Oh well. From the false summit, the true one was still a ways off. When I looked at the GPS and realized how far it still was I was a bit discouraged, but the great views kept me motivated to continue on. The winds were slowly ramping up. By the time I finally crested the summit of Patterson’s, I was nearly blowing over in the hurricane-force gusts! Taking summit photos was challenging, to say the least.

Great views as I retrace my steps back up Serendipity’s NE face.

I didn’t linger too long at the summit of Patterson’s Peak due to the intense winds and the fact that I knew most of the views to the west would be better from Serendipity. I descended back to the col with the false summit, not without some issues thanks to a VERY intense wind, before traversing up and around its south side to the col with Pyriform S5. I once again took a break at this pleasant col (no wind here) before slowly starting up the easy slopes back to the summit of Serendipity.

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