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Paiute East Ridge

Extremely Difficult


1.0 mile 1.6 kilometer point to point
64% Runnable
Extremely Difficult


Ascent: 194' 59 m
Descent: -691' -211 m
High: 13,191' 4,021 m
Low: 12,693' 3,869 m


Avg Grade: 17% (9°)
Max Grade: 109% (47°)


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Trail shared by Charles Danforth

An off-trail run with a little minor scrambling mixed in. One of the best summits (and best views in the Indian Peaks.

Charles Danforth

Features -none-


Mt. Audubon dominates the skyline above the popular Brainard Lake Recreation Area and is one of the most popular runs in the area. And rightly so! It's the easiest of the big mountains and the views are great. But almost no one continues from Mt. Audubon less than a mile to the west to the summit of Paiute Peak on the Continental Divide. And THAT is a real shame! The views along the traverse and from the summit are stunning in all directions and the positions as you move up the rock are superb.

From the wind shelters at the summit of Mt. Audubon (there are at least five as of this writing), continue west down a broad slope of easy talus to the saddle at 12,600 feet. Now the real fun begins! Climb up as close to the ridge as possible on a reddish stone "sidewalk." The running is not difficult, but it's very exposed with steep slopes several thousand feet tall on both sides into lake-studded valleys. In a couple places you'll find much harder terrain on the ridgetop and in all cases you should deviate left (south) not right! At no spot will you need to do more than some Class 3 (easy hands-and-feet scrambling).

Paiute is a complicated peak with several high-points. I believe the western one (across a small notch) is the highest. Enjoy the view in all directions and contemplate your place in the universe.

Return via the traverse to sit smugly among the tourists on Audubon or choose another route. The north and west faces are jagged cliffs and not a good option. The south ridge is much less difficult than it looks and, via a long bit of scree and talus (or snow in season) descent, will bring you to Blue Lake for a great tour of the area.

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in Colorado


9 Views Last Month
160 Since Jul 20, 2019
Extremely Difficult



Looking toward Pawnee Pass from atop Audubon.
Jul 3, 2017 near Nederland, CO
Mt. Audubon (right), the Coney Lakes basin (center), and the peaks of Wild Basin and the northern IPW (left) from the summit of Paiute.
Jul 20, 2019 near Nederland, CO
Paiute from the summit of Audubon. The east ridge route is obvious.
Jul 20, 2019 near Nederland, CO
Blue Lake cirque and the central/southern Indian Peaks.
Jul 20, 2019 near Nederland, CO
The view south from Paiute's summit is incomparable.
Jul 20, 2019 near Nederland, CO
Typical terrain on the Paiute East Ridge. Mt. Audubon summit in the back.
Jul 20, 2019 near Nederland, CO


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