Mount Toll is a very attractive peak in the Indian Peak Wilderness easily accessible from the Brainard Lake area. There is an easy Class 2 hiking route to the summit on the southern side and several easy/moderate technical rock climbs on the northern side. The cliff on the northern side is solid granite and the position of the climbing is "classic" Colorado alpine. The actual climbing is about 200m with the option of a harder, independent summit tower (that can be avoided by 4th class scrambling). The routes on this cliff are really great "beginner" alpine rock climbs, not overly committing with a walk off descent. There are also some very nice spring snow climbing and skiing possibilities. Early starts required for all routes to avoid the standard afternoon thundershowers and lightning. Wildflowers are abundant in July and August. All of these routes are described in Gerry Roach's Colorado's Indian Peaks Wilderness: Classic Hikes and Climbs.
From Boulder, drive north up US 36 to Left Hand Canyon. Take Left Hand Canyon up through the small mountain town of Ward to Peak to Peak Highway. Make a right on P-P Hwy. and a fast left (~200 m) onto the Brainard Lake Recreation Area road. Drive 5 miles to Brainard Lake, paying the $6.00 user fee on the way. Drive around the right side of Brainard lake and park at the Mitchell Lake trailhead (get there early - very popular). Hike ~3 miles to Blue Lake. Follow a faint trail around Blue Lake on the right to the basin above the lake. The Class 2 hiking route heads left to the saddle below the south ridge. Head right to the saddle beneath the north ridge for the rock climbing routes.
This route climbs the south face of the mountain via the Blue Lake Bowl and is the favored ski descent route on the mountain. This would also be the easies way to the summit for summer hikers or the descent route for technical climbs. The skiing is fantastic with 1500 feet of continuous skiing only a few steps from the exact summit. Most of the route is steep in a wide open face that joins with a broad bowl. Rated Expert in Indian Peaks Descents, its steep but wide with plenty of room for turns...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
Tony Bubb lead us up a moderate line, 5.5-5.6, on the North Ridge on 7/21/02. We enjoyed a spectacular early morning cloud display on the pass at the base of the North Ridge. Our line started in the shade on cold, but solid rock. While on the first pitch, clouds completely filled the valleys on both sides of the Divide and circled around the summit, which made the situation feel very alpine. The next two pitches were sunny. Each pitch had a mixture of nice features (short finger cracks, good flakes, etc) and some broken ground. About 200 m of climbing deposits you on a huge talus ledge at the base of the summit tower. Due to the mixed weather, we happily scrambled around the backside to the summit. The "tower", however, may provide some of the best climbing on this route, featuring a big corner system at probably a slightly higher grade. Very fun little alpine tour.
The crux of this route was getting from the ice patch below the steep talus to the saddle. Once we hit the saddle it was 2 fun 60 m pitches that had awesome incut holds as we meandered up through various corner systems and through a roof and a bulge, or something like that. Highly recommended aerobic cross-training day. Probably be fun in mid winter for practice dealing with the cold.
Arrived at the base of the North Ridge to discover that heavy rains of past couple of days had saturated all of the lichen to a degree that would make climbing a sketchy business. We decided to traverse around to the west and see if we could find an alternate route that was easier.
See the description for the west face traverse (the Barber Shop Traverse).
Unbelievably gorgeous. Here's what my friend wrote on his blog:
"A late start from Boulder, couple scenic pitstops along Peak to Peak Byway and a gear conundrum (spring-loaded camming device or avocados), I was grateful to fly under the radar as vacationing crowds flock in droves to Rocky Mountain National Park while Indian Peaks Wilderness and Mount Toll sit in isolation. Before I can pucker at the base of Toll's North Ridge, my senses are overwhelmed by cobalt blue alpine lakes, patchy krummholz, cascades, alpine tundra, scree, boulders, and a grand cirque of mountains. Reaching Toll's North Ridge is praiseworthy accomplishment but not time for jubilation. From here, we trace out a number of steep looking lines and start climbing three pitches rated anywhere from 5.4-5.7. For us East Coasters, the altitude, exposure, and position of the climbing is "classic". One more balancy crux move, a big jug, and I stumble on 12,979 foot Toll, speechless. We linger in the commanding views knowing below us is spicy scramble down to Blue Lake and a long ass death march back to the car. A toll worth paying!"