Chicago Basin TrekkingNovember 7, 2016
Alpine Lakes TraverseNovember 8, 2016
The Classic Trek through Colorado’s Iconic Wilderness
This 5 day 4 night backpacking trip traverses the incomparable Weminuche Wilderness in the San Juan Mountains. We’ll see areas like Elk Creek, the Colorado Trail, the Continental Divide, and many of Colorado’s most remote Centennial 13’ers. This is the ultimate wilderness trekking trip in Colorado’s largest and most remote wilderness area. Awe-inspiring scenery, uncrowded trails, and the perfect trip itinerary make this an unforgettable experience for those who really want to see the best of what Colorado and the Weminuche has to offer backcountry enthusiasts.
We have updated this trip for the Summer of 2023 to incorporate an even more inspiring route through the Weminuche, passing through some of the most remote and beautiful mountain terrain in all of Colorado if not the entire mountain west. The updated custom route is the culmination of years of detailed knowledge of the Weminuche Wilderness on the part of San Juan Mountain Guides and tends to avoid the more popular areas of the range. Come and join us this summer on one of the most adventure packed and unique trips you’ll ever experience!
The Best of the Weminuche backpacking trip is offered from Tuesday – Saturday so that participants have the opportunity to travel to Ouray (Monday) and then have Sunday to travel home, enjoy Ouray, Silverton, or Telluride – or however else you might like to use that day. Either way, this 5 day trip is exactly the trip you’ve been looking for to experience one of Colorado’s iconic backcountry destinations!
We can also offer this trip and itinerary on a Private/Custom basis. You choose your dates and group size and we’ll customize the experience according to your specifications!
July 25 – 29
August 8 – 12
August 30 – September 3
September 12 – 16
$1499 per person
No Hidden Fees
- Guiding and instruction with an IFMGA/AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- All group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, fuel etc.)
- Water purification system
- Meal packages available for an additional per person fee
Best of the Weminuche Itinerary
We meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides’ office in Ouray in the afternoon or early evening in order to go over personal equipment, food, and logistics issues for the following morning.
We will meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides’ office at 0730 and then proceed to Molas Pass, where our trek will begin. After adjusting our packs and preparing to hike we begin by descending the “45 switchback trail” down towards the Animas River. After crossing the Animas via a footbridge, we’ll continue hiking up Elk creek to a camp just beyond the “Beaver Ponds” along the Elk Creek (Colorado) Trail.
Today we will hike up into the inspiring Vestal Basin which is home to the Grenadier Range, and a number of inspiring peaks like Arrow Peak, Vestal Peak, and the Trinity Peaks. As we move up higher into the basin we’ll work our way towards Trinity Pass, which will allow us to cross over into Stormy Gulch. Impressive views of Storm King Peak and the Silex are the reward for ascending this pass. Finally, we’ll descend into Stormy Gulch and our camp for the night.
This day features our custom route to No Name Basin that we like to call “The High Traverse”. Passing between Storm King Peak and Mt. Silex is a custom route that takes us over towards Jagged Mountain. Along the way we’ll have the chance to stop at Leviathan Lake and will eventually pass up and over Jagged Col before descending down into Upper No Name Basin – one the the most remote places in all the Weminuche.
As the trip progresses, we often can adjust the final two days of the itinerary depending on group energy levels, weather, or other factors. One option sends the group down into No Name Basin towards the Animas River. Eventually we’ll camp in an idyllic location along the shores of the river. Another option sends us up and over Ruby/No Name Pass into the Ruby Creek Drainage which is another fantastic venue in the range – camping just below Colorado Centennials Pigeon and Turret Peaks.
Our final day is spent hiking out to Purgatory Flats, passing through historic Needleton along the way. A shuttle vehicle will pick us up at the trailhead for the transport back to Ouray.
Best of the Weminuche Trekking Equipment List
|The Osprey Atmos AG™ 50 features Osprey’s Anti-Gravity™ suspension system for quick drying ventilation and all-day comfort. This pack is well suited for weekend excursions or quick overnight forays when you are toting less than 40 pounds.|
|Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.|
|Water Bottles||Description||Guide's Pick|
|We recommend wide mouth Nalgene (or similar) water bottles for the majority of our programs. Two 1 liter bottles is the standard for days in the mountains.|
|Bottle Insulators||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.|
|Stuff Sacks||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Stuff sacks are a great way to organize your gear in your pack and help to keep things tidy in a variety of ways. A great addition to any of our programs.|
|Personal Food||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Lunch begins when breakfast ends and ends when dinner begins. Bring what you like to eat and consider the length, relative difficulty, weight, and other factors when deciding what to bring in the mountains with you. A variety is always best. Don't be afraid of Mr. T.|
|A good pair of wrap around sunglasses are an essential item for all of our trips. When the sun shines brightly on fresh snow in the mountains your eyes will thank you for a quality pair of shades. Looking good is important too.|
|Essential for all of our programs. SPF 30 would be our minimum recommendation. Typically a 4 oz. bottle will suffice but consider trip length when deciding how much to pack. |
|Lip Balm||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.|
|A headlamp is recommended for all of our programs and is an essential piece of equipment you will use in a variety of circumstances. Most LED type headlamps will do but we recommend the Black Diamond Storm for its versatility.|
|First Aid Kit||Description||Guide's Pick|
|An excellent investment for all of our programs. Our guides always carry a comprehensive medical kit but it's nice to have your own as well.|
|Small Knife||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A small knife is an indispensable tool to carry with you in the mountains. We like the Spatha knife for its size, weight, versatility, and ability to clip onto a harness.|
|Digital Camera||Description||Guide's Pick|
|While phones these days offer excellent quality, nothing beats the reliability of a dedicated digital camera. You'll be glad you brought it and your guide will make sure to help capture the moment of you being awesome.|
|Synthetic socks area must for all outdoor activities. Select a pair that fits well, is warm, and is comfortable. Bring 2-3 pairs depending on the type of trip.|
|Base Layer Top||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Choosing the right base layer really makes a difference in comfort, moisture-wicking, and the balance between cool and warm at the right time and in the right places. The Outdoor Research Echo Hoody also offers good sun protection.|
|Base Layer Bottom||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Similar to the base layer top. These are wear all the time in all conditions base layer pants. A must have for alpine and ice climbing trips and objectives.|
|Mid Weight Top||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A midlayer for anything from ski tours to alpine ascents, the CoEfficient Hoody features Polartec Power Dry High Efficiency fleece with a gridded interior for increased wicking performance and added breathability. The under-the-helmet hood and full-length zipper let you regulate temperature on the go, so you don’t find yourself overheating a half hour into the day. A slim cut helps the CoEfficient Hoody fit comfortably under your shell, and with a redsigned, trim fit, this layer takes up little space in your pack.|
|Soft Shell Pants||Description||Guide's Pick|
|These pants dig climbs that take them a few hundred feet off the deck. The tough but stretchy, breathable but wind-resistant Ferrosi fabric stays cool during long approach hikes, moves with you while talus wrangling and high-stepping on the sharp end, and blocks wind during long hours of belaying up high.|
|Insulated Parka||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Pack it for those days where you need just a touch of down insulation, or on those cold days on the chairlift when an extra layer might be crucial. Our new hooded version of the Filament has the same design as the popular hood-less version and a DWR-treated shell of ultralight 10D Pertex® Quantum GL keeps moisture away from premium 800-fill down inside.|
|Insulated Vest||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Same spirit, same guts, and same award-winning hybrid-mapped design of the Cathode Hooded Jacket, minus the sleeves and hood. An insulated vest is an optional item on our programs but we do think vests offer excellent flexible layering options in a variety of circumstances, weather conditions, and trip types.|
|Shell Jacket||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Our Outside Magazine and Men’s Journal “Gear of the Year” award-winning storm shell is engineered for fast-and-light alpine climbs and all-day backcountry tours. You need at minimum either a soft shell jacket or hard shell jacket for local Ouray based winter courses and programs.|
|Built for flash-storm protection, the 100% waterproof, super-breathable Helium II weighs an incredibly light 6.4 ounces. An ultra-compressible piece you’ll never leave behind, it’s so light and packs down so small you’ll forget it’s clipped to your harness until you throw it on to ward off a sudden mid-route downpour.|
|Shell Pants||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Waterproof, breathable and lightweight, the GORE-TEX® Foray Pants provide dependable rain protection and shrug off the wear-and-tear of the trail and cityscape alike.|
|Warm Hat||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Booster’s reversible design lets you choose. The soft yarn blend will provide a cozy sanctuary throughout winter’s chill.|
|Baseball Cap||Description||Guide's Pick|
|A required item on the majority of our programs, a baseball cap helps to keep harmful sun off your face. The Radar Pocket cap is packable, durable, and looks great!|
|Lightweight Gloves||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Updated for touchscreen compatibility, the StormTracker Sensor Gloves are equally at home alpine climbing, ski touring or ice climbing. Low-profile GORE® WINDSTOPPER®. Soft Shell fabric deflects biting gusts, and a tricot lining retains valuable heat.|
|Balaclava or Buff||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Simple, effective and infinitely adaptable, Original BUFF® headwear is the product that started the multifunctional headwear revolution. At its core is a moisture-managing microfiber fabric that is wind resistant and able to control odor. We recommend the BUFF for all of our programs as a multi-purpose insulation piece and trendy headgear!|
|Climbing Boots||Description||Guide's Pick|
|Waterproof Gore-Tex® abrasion resistant polyester uppers with a patented TPU Thermo Tech Application™. Extremely durable and lightweight 3D Flex™ insert for excellent ankle mobility Vibram®. Mulaz outsole with a technical edging platform and aggressive rear lugs for superior traction|
|Adjustable Trekking Poles||Description||Guide's Pick|
|This is an optional item on our programs. However, a good pair of trekking poles is a worthy piece of gear to have with you for long approaches or treks through the mountains. There are many added benefits to trekking poles. The new BD Distance series poles are light, collapsible, and adjustable.|
|Sleeping Pad||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Therm-a-Rest NeoAir All Season mattress is lightweight, durable, extremely warm, and the ultimate solution to year-round backcountry comfort. Stable construction and 2.5-inch thickness offer greater comfort for a full night of sleep, so you won't feel the uneven, rough terrain beneath you.|
|Sleeping Bag||Description||Guide's Pick|
|The Western Mountaineering MegaLite 30 Degree Sleeping Bag large cut sleeping bag for bigger folks or those seeking plenty of space. Have a fear of being closed in or perhaps a wide set of shoulders? This 850+ down fill sleeping bag has a 64" shoulder girth and 39" foot girth. Lay back and enjoy being wrapped in soft, fluffy down on nights down to 30°F.|
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
Before Your Trip
In order to successfully carry a 35 lb. pack up to 7 miles a day, endurance is key. Cardiovascular activities such as running, swimming, and cycling are great to build heart and lung endurance. Taking day hikes with your loaded backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains.
For trekking trips in Colorado’s Weminuche Wilderness you should be ready for:
- Hiking up to 6-7 miles per day with up to a 30 lb pack at altitudes between 8,000′ – 11,000′
- Wilderness travel
Follow Up Climbs
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO, however, many airlines now offer direct flights into Montrose – especially during the summer and winter months.
It is also possible to fly into Grand Junction, Durango, Telluride, or Denver CO. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of these airports.
Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. Tellurides also offers a shuttle service so make sure to inquire and book with them if you’d prefer not to rent a car or drive yourself!
- Montrose, CO: 45 minutes
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 5.5 hours
Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 970-325-4925 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!
Registration & Cancellation
Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.
- Guiding and instruction with an IFMGA/AMGA Certified/Trained Guide
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, fuel etc.)
- Water Purification system
- Transportation/Shuttle to Trailhead and return to Ouray
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before, during, or after the program
- Guide gratuity
- Trip Food (meal packages available for additional fee)
- Personal hiking/climbing clothing
- Trip Cancellation Insurance (recommended)
- Costs associated with weather delays or other variables beyond the control of San Juan Mountain Guides
Book This Trip!
We Offer Online Registration
- Click on Book This Trip
- Select your Program dates
- Enter your Info and Payment
Or, call 800.642.5389 to register