Mt. Mestas

Mt. Mestas is a mountain summit in the southeastern Sangre de Cristo Range. The 11,573-foot peak is located 3.2 miles southeast of North La Veta Pass. The mountain was known as La Veta Peak until 1949 when it was renamed in honor of PFC Felix B. Mestas, Jr. who was killed in action during the Second World War.

Mt. Mestas is a stock, as are the Spanish Peaks, Silver Mountain, Rough Mountain, and Sheep and Little Sheep Mountains. Mt. Mestas is mostly BLM owned with a lot of Bighorn Sheep and Rocky Mountain elk in the area. On the north side of nearby Rough Mountain, there is a reserved area where bighorn sheep are dropped off to help repopulate the area.

The following is an account from a local who runs an earth-moving company. He was doing a job for the BLM on the northeast side of Mt. Mestas. He said about 10 feet down into the rock he came to blue ice. The deeper he went, the bluer it got. It seems the whole mountain is one big glacial ice ball underneath all the fractured granite. Keeping it frozen is a huge bubble of carbon dioxide, deep in the ground.

“A friend and I started walking one day. We weren’t intent on climbing the mountain, only on finding a particular fenceline. Our search took us quite a way up the side of Mt. Mestas. We found the going was much easier when we stayed on one of the trails made by the bighorn sheep.

“We drove up onto the edge of the boulder field just east of Lost Lake in Tres Valles West. We climbed slowly across the boulder field until we reached the trees on the southern side of the cliff face. Then we continued up through the trees.

“Everywhere we went there was a lot of loose talus. It’s almost like the whole hill is one big rock slide waiting to let go. Then you reach a seemingly stable area and forget about it for a few minutes. But this mountain continually reminds you it isn’t just height that makes a mountain dangerous to climb… most of the 14ers are safer than this one.”