Fall Climb on Whetstone Mountain (25 Sept 2015)

(Last Updated On: October 5, 2015)

Anyone who has visited Crested Butte has set their eyes on Whetstone Mountain. Although one of the lesser known peaks to tourists, Whetstone Mountain seeps into the minds of the locals and captures their imaginations. Only after staring at this giant massif that stands south of town does it begin to gain a particular allure. And although it gets skied in winter, I’d argue that Whetstone is ever more appealing in fall when golden aspens decorate its lower flanks, giving the whole mountain a warm glow.

It has been my goal to climb Whetstone in the fall for the last 3 years now. Two times prior, I attempted accessing via Carbon Creek. But, the approach was simply too long. With the building of the new Baxter Gulch Trail and associated private property easements on the northeast side of Whetstone, access has now become much easier. With the perfect weather and the fabulous fall hues, I decided to give it another go. And I was able to convince Alex to come along with me.

We began on the Baxter Gulch Trail which is accessed just south of town on a turn-off (west) just after PAWS by the electrical plant. A view of the slopes from near the trailhead.
Lower Whetstone Mountain in the fall

Alex on the Baxter Gulch Trail.
Hiking on the Baxter Gulch Trail on lower Whetstone Mountain

As the trail led us into the gulch, we caught a good glimpse of Whetstone Mountain itself.
Whetstone Mountain in the fall.

The Baxter Gulch is still being constructed, so shortly after crossing the gulch, we left the trail, ascending the northern slopes of Whetstone. As we climbed, we caught some great views.
Mount Crested Butte in the fall.

Looking north.
View from Whetstone Mountain.

Alex making her way up the ridge with Red Lady behind.
Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

We had been on talus for awhile, and still had quite a bit further to go. Nice to see the M-Face up close without snow.
M-face on Whetstone Mountain.

So, we climbed on. Alex.
Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

Alex nearing the top.
Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

Never really noticed this beautiful lake before….
Views of Whetstone Mountain.

The true summit (12,516′) lay over yonder. We’d been on it before and decided not to go to the true summit this time due to time constraints.
Summit of Whetstone Mountain.

Mandatory selfie.
Brittany Konsella and Alex Riedman on Whetstone Mountain.

Spectacular views of Carbon and the West Elks to the west.
Carbon seen from Whetstone Mountain.

Anthracites.
Views from Whetstone Mountain.

Another view north.
Looking north on Whetstone.

Looking northeast from Whetstone

And northeast.
Views from Whetstone Mountain

Not wanting to deal with going down on the same talus we ascended, we decided to try a different descent route. We descended the ridge on the left, down the west side of the mountain.
Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

Looking back up.
Descent route on Whetstone.

We then wrapped around to follow along the Baxter Gulch where the leaves were as beautiful as ever.
Leaves on Whetstone Mountain.

Leaves near Whetstone Mountain.

Climbing Whetstone Mountain.

We passed the remnants of this old cabin along the way.
Cabin on Whetstone Mountain.

Eventually, we found our way back to the Baxter Gulch Trail and followed it back to the trailhead.

Although there is no trail to the top of Whetstone, the peak itself is not a very difficult climb for those accustomed to walking on talus. With the building of the Baxter Gulch trail, legal access to Whetstone Mountain’s summit has now become a lot easier, and will become even easier when the trail is finished. It’s hard to imagine a better peak to climb during the peak of leaf season.

Want to do this hike yourself?

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Summary
Fall Climb on Whetstone Mountain.
Article Name
Fall Climb on Whetstone Mountain.
Description
Standing south of the town of Crested Butte, Whetstone Mountain gains a particular allure in fall when golden aspens decorate its lower flanks, giving the whole mountain a warm glow.
Author

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things,Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate 🙂 Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

Latest posts by Brittany Walker Konsella (see all)

Brittany Walker Konsella

Aside from skiing, biking, and all outdoorsy things, Brittany Walker Konsella also loves smiles and chocolate :) Even though she excels at higher level math and chemistry, she still confuses left from right. Find out more about Brittany!

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