Casco Peak from Echo Canyon

The French Group: Casco Peak (L), Frasco Benchmark, and French Peak (R).

Casco Peak is a Centennial 13er located in the northern Sawatch Range. It is the 69th highest peak in the state of Colorado, sitting just to the west of Mount Elbert and southwest of French Peak. The peak itself is often climbed with French Peak (13,940 ft. – ranked) and Frasco Benchmark (13,786 ft. – unranked) as seen in the picture above. It is easily and most often accessed from the Halfmoon Creek TH near the Mount Massive TH, but there are several routes in all directions that enable you to choose your own adventure.

After some research I decided on the southern route through Echo Canyon just off of Highway 82 near the La Plata TH. The plan, as it unfolded, was to trek north up the steep canyon into the upper drainage, ascend the ridge early and traverse over to the summit of Casco along its southeast ridge. From there I would play it by ear to determine if the weather would allow for enough time to traverse the ridge line over to Frasco Benchmark and French Peak.

Peak: Casco Peak (13,908 ft.)
Date: May 24, 2014
Trailhead: Echo Canyon
Distance: 9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,900 ft.
Group: Solo

Route Overview.
My 1st glimpse of the task at hand. Approaching the upper drainage, Casco Peak can be seen at the end of the long ridgeline.
The ridge extending southeast from the summit of Casco.

The standard route takes you through the long narrow basin and up the saddle just below the summit of Casco. Wanting to make things a little more interesting, I immediately began my way up to the ridge once above treeline. The ridge sits at about 13,000 ft, give or take a few ups and downs along the way. With what felt like the entire state of Colorado all to myself, I wasn’t taking anything for granted as I plodded along.

Looking back at LaPlata and Sayres Benchmark.
Ascending to the ridge.
This knob looked a little trivial from afar, but as i got closer it mellowed out.
A good look at my path along the ridge. Watch your step.
French Peak and the col looking very skiable.
Summit of Casco Peak – Elevation 13,908 ft. – May 24, 2014.

With some weather beginning to roll in as predicted, I decided to play the safe card and call Casco the finish line on this day. I think I sat up top for what felt like an hour, ate a few too many gummy worms, shot off the all is OK texter, and took in the views all around, specifically the Elks and the Bells.

The traverse over to Frasco Benchmark as seen from the summit of Casco. French Peak further north to the right.
The Elks are in a class by themselves.
Making my way back through Echo Canyon. Thunder snow is still a concept I’ll never get used to.
A Crank Yanker and some backup re-hydration along with a whole lotta chips and salsa does the body good.

On almost any given day, I’d choose to spend my time in the hills with the usual suspects, but every once in a while there’s just something bad @ss and refreshing about being out there on your own. This was one of those days!

Thanks for reading!

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