This 14,193-foot mountain in the heart of the Collegiate Peaks is one of the range’s more dramatic for its pyramid-like silhouette and incredibly steep approach. You’ll gain 4,300 feet of elevation in 4.75 miles. But it’s worth it once you’re standing on Yale’s tiny summit.
Altitude sickness occurs when a climber ascends too high too fast, and due to the steepness of this route, it’s likely to happen on Yale. A good friend experienced a severe headache and nausea high on Mount Yale. She chose to continue to the top and, with the help of some Gatorade, soon felt better. But others may have decided to turn around. Altitude sickness is real, and it can be very dangerous, so use your best judgement and remember the mountain will still be there tomorrow.
- This hike, despite its steepness, starts on a popular paved road (Cottonwood Pass west of Buena Vista) so avoid weekends in high summer.
- Be nice to your knees! Trekking poles will save you pain later on the steep downhill.
- Camping is scarce near the trailhead but take the turn to Cottonwood Lake and you’ll find plenty of sites.
Recommended season(s): Summer – early fall
—R. Scott Rappold