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Emma Burr Mountain - Elevation 13,544 Feet

(A Colorado 13er On The Continental Divide Near Mineral Basin And Mt. Kreutzer - August 2, 2008)

Emma Burr Mountain, CO Ever since I first laid eyes on this 13er, standing prominently from Mineral Basin last summer, I have desired to hike to its summit. Its stunning northern face, the mystery of why it was named "Emma Burr Mountain" (no historians seem to know) and the overall beauty of the far upper reaches of South Cottonwood Canyon (most often noted as Mineral Basin) were all factors. It was so fulfilling to reach its summit!

There is no trail and we bushwhacked through thick shrubbery from County Road 344. We climbed up Emma Burr's eastern ridge, a steep slope with occasional loose rocks that required Class 3-ish manuevers now and then.

How to get there: From Buena Vista, travel west on Chaffee County Road 306 into the mountains. Turn left on C.R. 344 and travel into South Cottonwood Canyon for approximately 10-12 miles. Past Cottonwood Lake, the road becomes rough and a 4-wheel drive vehicle is needed. Look closely at your topographical map: Past Morgans Gulch (on the left) and the road up Grassy Gulch (on the right), you will reach a "Y" in the road. 344 goes left and 344A goes right. We went left on 344, crossed a creek and parked before the road ends.

Special thanks to Derrick to driving his 4-wheel drive vehicle and his dog Chief. They were both great hiking partners!


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Emma Burr Mountain
On The Way Up

The view of Emma Burr Mountain from Chaffee County Road 344 past the Y. (See directions above) Much of our route can be seen in this photo: The green shrubbery, the grassy horizontal slope and Emma Burr Mountain's eastern ridge.

Emma Burr Mountain
Bush Whacking
Bushwhacking through this thick shrubbery was fairly intense and hilarious at times. Chief, the dog, was having a blast in there.

Me, wearing shorts and too lazy to put on the leg portion of my gear, got my legs dinged and scratched up. Oh well! At least, Derrick bravely bush whacked ahead of me and gave me a faint line to follow him. On the way down, I was the brave one in front who charted the way. :)

Mt. Kreutzer Heading up, I captured this view of Mt. Kreutzer (alt. 13,095 feet). It's summit is above the sand shaded portion of the ridge.
Emma Burr Mountain Myself standing in front of Emma Burr Mountain. I stuck out my tongue because I was tired at that point! :p)
Emma Burr Mountain
Interestingly, there is some trail building happening in this area. From what I have been informed, a lengthy project is happening to build a trail that will be part of the Continental Divide Trail. Eventually, it will connect from Cottonwood Pass all the way to Tincup Pass.

We enjoyed walking on the trail for a short distance before it ended near the eastern ridge.

Emma Burr Mountain, CO Facing west toward Emma Burr Mountain. It was just a matter of climbing up that ridge.
Mt. Kreutzer Another view of Mt. Kreutzer (left) with the inclusion of Jones Mountain (right). You can see the dirt road of County Road 344 way over on the right.
Derrick rests during our ascent on the ridge. At this point, I looked up and saw how "gnarly" and rocky the steep slope was toward the summit. I put my camera away to "get serious" with watching my steps on boulder fields and climbing with hands when needed.

At The Emma Burr Mountain Summit

We made it! I was so happy to be up there.

Emma Burr Mountain
Chief (the dog) was so scared near the most steep and rocky portion that Derrick went back down to guide him up. I thought this was a nice photo as they were about to reach the top.
Ah the views!

Probably the prettiest view (with the best lighting) was toward the north. Emma Burr Mountain sits on the Continental Divide, which runs north-south along that ridge. Spit on the left and it will eventually lead to California, or spit on the right and it will eventually lead to Texas. :)

As you can see in the bottom photos, it kind of became a "photo shoot" with both Derrick and myself standing out there. :)

Continental Divide
Emma Burr Mountain
Facing east, the view of Mt. Princeton can be seen as the tallest peak way out there. Emma Burr Mountain and Mt. Princeton

This was an especially enjoyable hike in many ways. We did not see another person until we were descending and the challenge of not having a trail was a fun novelty. Someone on the forum recently showed a large-scale picture of literally hundreds of people, sprawled like black ants on Mt. Bierstadt on a summer weekend day. I am not against large amounts of people, but it sure is nice to feel like your trail isn't a highway for hundreds of people with noisy crowds at the summit. Emma Burr Mountain was a fantastic adventure, but because the mountain's elevation does not reach the magic number of 14,000+ feet, many people avoid it. If you seek peace and solitude, I definitely recommend considering some of Colorado's 13ers.

Photo Above: I captured a photo of the log to show that amazingly, we were the first people to reach the summit in two weeks. (At least based on those who signed in.) Two weeks! We had the entire mountain to ourselves.
The view toward the southwest with some of the mountains toward Napoleon Pass and Cumberland Pass in Gunnison County. Emma Burr Mountain
Two views looking in toward Morgans Gulch (foreground of both photos).

Mt. Antero can be seen out there in the top photo.

Morgans Gulch
Sawatch Mountains
Of course, we had nice views of Taylor Park Reservoir (top).

But I was also surpised and amused to see we had an entirely clear view of the town of Tincup, Colorado. Nice!

Taylor Park Reservoir
Tincup, CO
Just so many great views up there!

Some of my other hikes in the Sawatch Range and region:
Poplar Gulch
Grizzly Lake
La Plata Peak
Mt. Elbert
Huron Peak
Unnamed Point south of Cottonwood Pass
Turner Peak
Mt. Princeton
Ptarmigan Lake
Jones Mountain
Mt. Kreutzer

Mineral Basin
Emma Burr Mountain Emma Burr Mountain
At the summit, I zoomed-in as best I could to photograph Derrick's truck out there on the road. That's where we started! :) Mineral Basin
One token snow photo for all you people in amazing hot summer areas like Arizona and Georgia. This snow area is so large that I am confident to say it will likely not entirely melt this summer. Snow in August

Emma Burr Mountain
Back At The Bottom

We arrived back at our vehicle at 12:01 p.m. Take a look at the large and ominous clouds hovering over Emma Burr Mountain. As we drove down the canyon, it began to rain downhill from Cottonwood Lake at 12:55. As I say over and over again, watch for clouds and start early! All you need is one "close call" with lightning on a mountain to convince you. (Read my story about my close call on Mt. Yale in 2006.)

Mt. Kreutzer, CO One last photo of Mt. Kreutzer as we drove away.

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