Summit Elevation (m): 2490
Trip Date: May 29 2021
Elevation Gain (m): 700
Round Trip Time (hr): 4
Total Trip Distance (km): 15
Quick ‘n Dirty Rating: Class 2 – you fall, you are not on the easier route
Difficulty Notes: Easy hiking and scrambling up a scenic drainage. The only difficulty is avoiding cliffs and possibly avy terrain in the south bowl to the summit.
Technical Rating: SC5; RE3/4
GPS Track: Download
Map: Google Maps
The weather forecast was looking pretty darn good again for the last weekend of May 2021. Originally I was considering a two day plan but when Wietse could only wrangle one day and other friends had other plans we decided to make our one day count. Due to huge amounts of snow still laying over the mountains we weren’t left with a ton of choices and apparently a bunch of friends felt the same way. We didn’t realize it at the time but Raf, Dave, Cornelius, Matt and Sandra were all going to drive 3.5 hours to the same parking lot in Bighorn Country! Using Cornelius Rott as inspiration we decided to go for Onion Peak and Falls Lookout with a remote shot at Ram Mountain to end our day. In order to make this plan work we decided to take the easiest and most direct routes on each peak and to use bikes to approach Onion Peak from the Hummingbird Creek staging area.
I picked Wietse up at 05:00 and we made the long drive to the staging area, arriving there around 08:30 as the first vehicle in the parking lot. It’s funny with these long drives it feels like you’ve already done a peak by the time you finally step out of the car – or anyway that’s how I feel. I would strongly recommend driving up here the evening before and having a nice little campout in the parking lot. It’s a nice area and there’s even nice camp sites on the drive in if you’d rather have a bit more privacy. We prepared for our first peak and set off on the bikes up Onion Creek Trail. The bike ride was quick and pleasant and soon we were at the south drainage for our peak and ready to hike.
The south drainage was easy hiking on boulders and scree – just as most drainages in this area. We didn’t have to do any bushwhacking (another reason to ascend this route) and the junctions were all pretty easily recognized. As usual the scenery kept us distracted as we approached the SE bowl under the summit.
As we rounded the last corner under the SE bowl we started traversing above the snow-filled creek on climber’s left. We knew we should be above an obvious handrail cliff above us to the left but for some reason we ignored this beta and took the easy road instead. This resulted in a few moments of consternation until I spotted a nice ledge escape from our position and soon we were on top of the cliffs and looking forward to the slopes under the summit. We followed the obvious line up a steep(ish) snow slope, arriving at the summit approximately 2.5 hours from the parking lot.
Views from the summit were incredible – I was not expecting to see peaks from Lost Guide to Whelk, Cheshire, Cline and Allstones from such a front range peak.
After enjoying the summit views we made a quick descent down the snow slopes back to the drainage, followed by a pleasant hike back to the bikes and a great ride back to the parking lot.
Without a doubt, Onion Peak was our favorite of the three summits we did this day. With a round trip time of only around 4 hours (with bike approach), this is a half day objective if you do the more direct route rather than Cornelius’ route. The ascent was fun on snow and the views are stunning from the summit, which is the highest in the area (higher than Sufi, Kista and Falls Lookout).