Have you ever had a day in the mountains so perfect you forgot that you were doing something difficult? Perhaps the weather was just right, maybe you met some cool new friends, or perhaps you satisfied your desire to complete a certain route. Well, for my day on Father Dyer, it was all three. My first trip report of 2017 is the east ridge of Father Dyer and Crystal Peak.
Father Dyer and Crystal Peak Route Description
We started in the trees, slowly meandering upwards towards tree line. The first challenge was a stream crossing that required us to remove our shoes. There’s something to be said about dipping your feet into icy cold water at 6:15 in the morning. Needless to say if I wasn’t awake yet, I certainly was after the icy dip. This year, the streams are overflowing with the icy goodness, so much so we actually ended up removing our shoes twice. Once on the trail towards the approach, and again once we reached the stream crossing near the base of Lower Crystal Creek Lake.
En Route to the Ridge
The trail meets a 4 wheeling road and we hiked along the road until it petered out, just past a the stunning Lower Crystal Lake. From here you can see the majority of the class 3 climb up Father Dyer. Head left of the lake up a small gulley, then continue up to right to climb a small hill to reach the East Ridge of Father Dyer.
Easy Class 3 Living
The ridge doesn’t contain a ton of exposure, but it certainly provides a fun introduction to some class 3 moves. Pick your way through the rock near the ridge line. The name of the game is to avoid the cliffs, so cross over to the other side of the ridge once you notice things getting a bit cliffy. The route is not difficult to navigate. We spent the majority of our time on the climber’s left side, crossing over to the right once we were over the first ridge.
Once you gain the steep section, the terrain mellows out a bit to the summit beyond. The summit itself is only about 25sf, cliffed on two sides. Our solo summit time ended abruptly when a mountain goat popped over the edge and approached us. I’ve never been approached by wildlife this large before. His lack of hesitation left us a little nervous, so we scurried from the summit and continued onwards to Crystal Peak.
After consulting the all-mighty interwebs for a bit of explanation, it turns out that mountain goats really like the minerals in human urine. Although none of us were marking our territory on the summit, the goat must have smelled our salty sweat and thought he’d get a closer sniff. Either way, I snapped this great shot of Mr. Goatsworth striking his most fabulous pose.
Onwards to Crystal Peak
Dropping the saddle and heading to Crystal is pretty self-explanatory. The ridge between Crystal and Father Dyer is solid class 2 terrain with plenty of rock hopping. We laughed about our goat friend and enjoyed being out in the mountains that day. Stunning views and a light breeze accompanied us on the summit of Crystal. We stood on the top of the Tenmile Range and pointed out all of the big peaks that were begging to be climbed. Views stretched all the way to Snowmass Mountain several valleys beyond where we stood.
The Down Climb
Usually, heading down is the toughest part. I don’t know if it was the great company or fantastic views that kept spirits high, but dropping down back to the car was carefree and fun. There is a trail from the saddle between Peak 10 and Crystal Peak that criss-crosses the mountainside all the way back to Lower Chrystal Lake.
We took an extra break crossing the stream en-route back to the cars. It seemed appropriate to soak our feet in the icy water, eat a snack, and chit chat about all of life’s goodness.
Father Dyer and Chrystal Peak Trip Report: Climbing Beta
The nice thing about this route is it can be a combo, or just one peak. Although we opted out of Helen, you can certainly add more to the challenge by doing the solid class three ridge between Mt Helen and Father Dyer.
Route Length: Approximately 6.5 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 3,100 vertical feet
Trip Duration: We took our time. Stopped to chat, relax, and enjoy the fantastic views. The entire loop took six hours, but could easily have been done in five.
Hillmap Route: If you haven’t heard of Hillmap, it’s an excellent place to plan routes and backcountry tours. You can overlay grade percentages, save links of routes to send to friends (great for trip plans), and even download the GPX files. Here is a map of our route.
Father Dyer Ridge Route: 14ers.com route description. It doesn’t include Crystal, but it’s easy to continue down Father Dyer and back up the saddle to Crystal Peak.
Directions to the trailhead: Drive 2 miles south on the Colorado 9 from Breckenridge. Turn right onto Spruce Creek Road. Stay right up a hill, then left at the intersection. At about 1.2 miles you will reach a large parking lot for the lower trailhead. If you have a 4WD vehicle you can continue up the road 2 more miles to reach the Spruce Creek Trailhead. There is a small parking area on the right side of the road.
Google Map Pin to the Trailhead
Father Dyer to Crystal Peak Trip Report: Final Thoughts
The east ridge of Father Dyer and Crystal Peak has it all. If you’re looking to get into scrambling I’d highly recommend this route. Who can complain with fun scrambling lines, a short approach, and fantastic views!