Electric Pass

Aspen
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Electric Pass

Distance: 14.7km
Elevation: 1,113m
Time: 6-8h

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This is hike has the most elevation gain on this list. The trail up to the over 3962m. Electric Pass is definitely not for the faint hearted, or the week lunged. The stunning panoramic views from the top are - without a doubt - worth the burning legs and exhausted lungs. Sometimes the views look better when you work for them.

Getting there

Head west from Aspen along Colorado 82. When you reach the first traffic circle take the third exit to Castle Creek Rd. Follow this road for 19.3km, until you see signs for the Cathedral Lake Trail. The sign is very small so, set your odometer at the traffic circle. Turn right and go until the parking lot.

About

When to do

Late June through September

Backcountry Campsites

Yes, at Crater Lake

Toilets

No

Family friendly

No

Route Signage

Average

Crowd Levels

Low

Route Type

Out and back


Elevation


Detailed Description

Beginning along the Cathedral Lake Trail, you’ll initially head southwest and start gaining elevation. Soon you will find yourself above the roaring Pine Creek as you veer to the west and continue climbing.

Luckily, you will soon be out of the foliage, and you’ll be granted incredible views across the valley, looking up the flanks of Malemute Peak. You will also be able to see the edge of Cathedral Lake as you look up the valley. As you ascend the views will improve.

Veering right (more to the north), you will soon reach a junction where you will keep to the right towards Electric Pass. Soon, after a handful of switchbacks, you will enter an absolutely gorgeous hanging valley. To your left the aptly name Cathedral Peak and its incredible massif will fill your view, and to your right the grassy Leahy Peak.

You will slowly climb up the gently ascending valley before veering to the east and proceeding to climb along a lengthy switchback. You will finally switchback again and start heading to the northwest.

After a few much smaller switchbacks you will finally gain the scraggly Electric Pass. Those last few switchbacks can definitely be a challenge, simply due to the thin air at this elevation. Take extreme care here to not put yourself in any danger. If you feel nauseated or dizzy, begin descending immediately. Getting to a lower elevation is the only way to alleviate the dangers of altitude sickness.

From the pass you will be awarded stunning views. Looking back you will have one of the best views of Cathedral Peak, and Cathedral Lake at its base. To your left Leahy Peak will seem quaint. Looking north you will be able to make out South Hayden and Hayden Peak. After you’ve had your fill of the thin air, return the way you came.

Insider Hints

  • As the name would suggest, lightning is very common on Electric Pass. Take care and complete this hike early in the day. Be sure to be off the pass by the early afternoon.

  • The elevation of this hike can make it more challenging for those who live at lower elevations. This can be extremely dangerous, so consider doing other hikes in the area first before attempting to hike at this altitude right away.

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