Weminuche Backpacking

Nate and his mother Terry came out from Boston to see some western sights.  After they visited the Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde, we went backpacking in the Weminuche Wilderness.  I have to say that is a grand-slam tour if I have ever heard of one.  We took the train up from Durango to Elk Park and hiked up to a beaver pond where we were pleasantly surprised to find a friendly mother moose and her two calves.  Terry spent the afternoon watching to moose while Nate and I made the hike up to Vestal Basin.  The next day we hiked over the Continental Divide to Kite Lake.  The 12,800′ that we reached that afternoon was the highest elevation that Nate or Terry had ever been and they both performed impressively.  With no moose to hold our attention we entertained ourselves with a deck of cards.  Nate and I quickly discovered that Terry was a master of the game “Champion” and couldn’t be beaten.  We hiked to the Highland Mary Lakes the next night and were surprised to see some lamas and a herd of sheep.  The two sheep dogs came down to visit us and beg for food.  Unfortunately for the dogs all they got were some pets.  We decided that the scheduled hike for the last day was a little too short so we called our shuttle driver Bill on the satellite phone and adjusted the pick up place and time.  This change of plans later caused us to get caught in the worst hail storm I have ever been in.  Luckily the amazing views that we encountered while hiking our new route were well worth the painful hail.  It was a pleasure to hike and camp for four days with Terry and Nate and I hope to see them again in the future.

BJK

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Vestal Basin

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Near the headwaters of Elk Creek.

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On the Continental Divide

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Hail!

Backpacking and Peak Climbing in the Weminuche

This was an incredible journey! We spent eight days playing in the great outdoors in Southwest Colorado! This included climbing at a local crag, climbing one of our great 13ers in the area (Snowdon Peak), and then traveling into the backcountry of the great Weminuche Wilderness to visit Chicago Basin, the 14ers there, and end hiking out high on Endlich Mesa!

The first day we spent climbing at X-Rock, one of our local crags. We climbed around on rock all day including climbing some of the harder climbs there, learning about building climbing anchors, and doing some rappelling down steep faces.

The next day we ventured to Snowdon Peak where we climbed the West Buttress, giving us a great view of the surrounding mountains including the Needles where we were headed the next day. This also gave us the chance to acclimate to the elevation so that the travels into the 14ers wouldn’t be as difficult.

The next day we went into Chicago Basin via the train and spent the next few days climbing the local 14ers. This included Windom, Sunlight, and Eolus. The time spent up high was amazingly beautiful and we were psyched to get some great weather!

After our time in the Basin, we moved up over Columbine Pass and Trimble Pass to the Silver Mesa and City Reservoir. This was a great miles day with views of the Needles the whole way and lunar landscapes up high.

Lastly, we ended the trip again gaining great elevation and hiked the remaining portion of the trip above 12,000 ft along the Endlich Mesa. It literally felt like Ireland up there with flocks of Sheep and all.

Mike and I had a great time hanging out and exploring what Southwest Colorado has to offer. There is much more where that came from, that is for sure!

AB

On top of Windom

On top of Windom

Snowdon Peak

Snowdon Peak

Backpacking in the Weminuche

Backpacking in the Weminuche

Climbing at X-Rock

Climbing at X-Rock

Climbing in Chicago Basin

Climbing in Chicago Basin

Storm King Peak and East Trinity

Just completed a busy week, the headline of which was a backcountry trip into Stormy Gulch for a climb of the E. Ridge of Storm King Peak, along with the E. Ridge of E. Trinity with Andrew K. and Marty L.  The trip began with a road trip into Beartown via Silverton and Stony Pass.  This burly 4 wheel drive road offers excellent access to the peaks in the Grenadier Range via Hunchback Pass.

We rounded out the day with relatively short (approx. 5.5 miles) approach into Stormy Gulch which offers great views of The Guardian, Mt. Silex, and Storm King Peak.  Stormy Gulch is decidedly more remote than Vestal Basin and is host to a combination of great camping and awesome climbing.

The following day we climbed the E. Ridge of Storm King Peak (1500′, 5.4).  Engaging climbing on typical Grenadier quartzite, leads to the crest of one of the most sought after peaks in the Grenadiers.

Next it was on to E. Trinity, part of the Trinity Peaks which include Middle and West Trinity.  Climbed less frequently than it’s neighbors (Vestal, Arrow, Storm King), this is a great climb and the summit affords great views of Balsam Lake and the 10 Mile Creek drainage, one of the more remote spots in the Weminuche.

Great backpacking, great climbing, great views, and even great weather.  What more to ask for from a trip in the San Juans?  Great job Andrew and Marty!

NTD

5 miles to the trailhead in 45 minutes on rough road

5 miles to the trailhead in 45 minutes on rough road

Climbing on Storm King Peak

Climbing on Storm King Peak

That's us on the ridge nearing the summit

That's us on the ridge nearing the summit

Andrew and Marty on the summit of E. Trinity

Andrew and Marty on the summit of E. Trinity

View of Middle Trinity from Trinity Pass

View of Middle Trinity from Trinity Pass

New Jersey to Snowdon

Jim and Jill from New Jersey climbed Snowdon today, which was their first mountain ever.  Jill, who has done marathons all over the world and is currently training for one in New Jersey and Jim did a great job having never climbed before.  They both were in great shape which allowed us to be on top by 9:40am which gave us plenty of time to descend before the afternoon clouds and showers.  It was a pleasure to spend the day with the two of you I hope to see you again next summer!

BJK

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Jill and Jim on top of Snowdon.

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