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Imogene Traverse Trek

3-Day Alpine Climbing Fundamentals
June 14, 2023

Introducing the Imogene Traverse Trek!

New for 2024! – Introducing the sister to our iconic Million Dollar Trek, the Imogene Traverse, a hut-to-hut backcountry trekking experience inspired by the supported trekking style made famous in the European Alps. This trip explores the terrain around Imogene Pass (hence the name) linking the quintessential mountain towns of Silverton and Ouray, CO. Forget carrying heavy packs, and hike unencumbered between two of the area’s prestigious backcountry lodges – The Red Mountain Alpine Lodge (RMAL) and the Mt. Hayden Backcountry Lodge (MHBL).

The Imogene Traverse Trek is an epic 4-day, 3-night traverse of some of the most inspiring high mountain terrain in the San Juans. Alpine Lakes, ridge traverses, and rarely accessed terrain accompany luxury accommodations and great food make for a one-of-its-kind trip in the lower 48. This journey uses historical mining roads, cross country travel, and established single-track trails to traverse off the beaten path, and discover pristine alpine lakes and seldom-climbed summits in the most alluring terrain in the San Juans. Perhaps most importantly – you’ll only be carrying a daypack as at all of the huts and lodges food is included so trip participants will just be carrying day trekking gear and lunch.

Trek Logistics

This trip includes guiding and trip leadership from IFMGA/AMGA Mountain Guides, premium lodging at the area’s finest backcountry lodges, as well as home cooked meals (breakfast/dinner). You only need to bring a day pack with your personal gear, as the lodgings include bedding and food. This ensures that your pack is light while hiking and creates a similar experience to a European high route traverse. We cover between 5-10 miles per day, with between 2-4.5k elevation gain (some days are shorter, some are longer) mostly above 11,000 feet. This trip is open to participants of most ages and ability levels, as there are options to make the traverse more or less difficult depending on group/individual needs. Space is limited so book online or get in touch with our office today to sign up!

2024 Dates

July 16-19

Aug. 15-18

Sept. 5-8


$1799 per person

rexerNo Hidden Fees

  • Guiding and trip leadership with an IFMGA/AMGA Certified/Trained Guide(s)
  • 3 nights Loft Lodging at RMAL & MHBL (private room upgrades available at RMAL)
  • Breakfast, Appetizers/Apres Soup, Dinners and Dessert at the Huts/Lodges
  • Transportation to the trailhead and back to our office in Ouray
  • Trail lunch provided at RMAL only
  • Trekking Poles (if needed)

Imogene Traverse Trek Itinerary

This journey uses historical mining roads, cross country travel, and established single-track trails to traverse off the beaten path, and discover pristine alpine lakes and seldom-climbed summits in the most alluring terrain in the San Juans.

Day 0

We meet at the San Juan Mountain Guides’ office in the late afternoon or early evening in order to go over equipment and trek logistics issues for the following morning.  You can drop off a small overnight duffel at this point for nights 1-2 at RMAL.  We will take these into RMAL for you so you have a fresh change of clothes or access to other luxuries.

Day 1

In the morning starting from Ouray we’ll drive to the beginning of our hike up Corkscrew Pass outside of Silverton. Our trek begins with a shuttle to the trailhead up Cement Creek. We hike to the pass, then traverse ridglines and Past Red Mountain #2 and #3 on our way to RMAL, where we’ll have dinner.

Day 2

After a more casual and leisurely morning we have the opportunity to hike around Red Mountain Pass which offers a number of breathtaking peaks, including Red #3 (12,747’), as well as mining relics among miles of off-trail terrain. There are several other loops to consider in the area that traverse all three Red Mountain Peaks. We’ll return to RMAL for another restful evening and dinner.

Day 3

After our second night at RMAL, we ascend up Senator Beck Basin towards Imogene Pass, the highest mountain pass in the San Juans, where we’ll have the option to summit several 13ers, including Telluride Peak (13,509′) and V7 (13,359’) before descending to the Hayden Backcountry Lodge. You will need to pack a small overnight kit for this night to carry in your backpack.

Day 4

The final day of the program we’ll hike up Richmond Basin and climb to the high point of Mt. Hayden South (13,206’) before descending into Full Moon Gulch and Half Moon Basin to arrive at Crystal Lake where our shuttle will be waiting to transport us back to Ouray.

Million Dollar Trek Equipment List

Duffel BagDescriptionGuide's Pick
1 - 2 Large, durable bags for oragnizing and transporting your gear during airline travel etc.
BackpackDescriptionGuide's Pick
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.
ThermosDescriptionGuide's Pick
Coffee is the lifeblood of champions. We highly encourage the consumption of coffee on our programs. The darker the better.
Water BottlesDescriptionGuide'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 InsulatorsDescriptionGuide's Pick
Insulating water bottle parkas are recommended in the winter months, for ice climbing or cold weather alpine trips.
Stuff SacksDescriptionGuide'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 FoodDescriptionGuide'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.
SunglassesDescriptionGuide's Pick
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.
SunscreenDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 BalmDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lip balm is important to bring on all trips. SPF 15 or higher is recommended.
HeadlampDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 KitDescriptionGuide'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 KnifeDescriptionGuide'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 CameraDescriptionGuide'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.
SocksDescriptionGuide's Pick
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 TopDescriptionGuide'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 BottomDescriptionGuide'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 TopDescriptionGuide'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 PantsDescriptionGuide'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 ParkaDescriptionGuide'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 VestDescriptionGuide'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 JacketDescriptionGuide'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 PantsDescriptionGuide'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 HatDescriptionGuide's Pick
The Booster’s reversible design lets you choose. The soft yarn blend will provide a cozy sanctuary throughout winter’s chill.
Baseball CapDescriptionGuide'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 GlovesDescriptionGuide'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 BuffDescriptionGuide'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 BootsDescriptionGuide'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 PolesDescriptionGuide'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 PadDescriptionGuide'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 BagDescriptionGuide'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

You’ll cover between 5-8 miles per day, with between 2-4.5k elevation gain (some days are shorter, some are longer). This trip is open to participants of most ages and ability levels, as there are options to make the traverse more or less difficult depending on group/individual needs.

Before Your Trip

In order to successfully carry a 15-20 lb. pack up to 8 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 backpack at a local park will help train your legs for the mileage you will do in the mountains. Coming a few days before your trip will help you get acclimated.

For hut-to-hut trekking trips in the San Juans you should be ready for:

  • Hiking up to 6-7 miles per day with up to a 15-20 lb pack at altitudes between 10,000′ – 13,000′
  • Off-trail 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.

plane-icon 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.

suv-icon 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


hotel-icon-2 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!


Program Policies

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
  • Transportation to the trailhead and back to our office in Ouray
  • Breakfast, Trail Snack/Lunches, & Dinners on the trip
  • 3 nights Lodging at RMAL & MHBL
  • Trekking Poles (if needed)


  • Transportation to Ouray, CO
  • Hotel costs before or after the program
  • Guide gratuity
  • 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

  1. Click on Book This Trip
  2. Select your Program dates
  3. Enter your Info and Payment


Or, call 800.642.5389 to register