Basin - Eolus, North Eolus, Sunlight, & Windom (2 pages)
Boulder - Loveland - Boulder, twice, 160
Boulder - Silverton - Boulder - 750 miles
Distance on a train:
Silverton - Needleteon - Silverton - 30
Total Motorized Distance: ~950
Cost of Transportation:
$150 for gas, $130 for train
Cost Of Transportation: $280
Cost of Lodging Our Macaws: $100
Cost of Food & Misc Expenses: $120
Total Cost: $500
July 2nd: Needleton
to Chicago Basin Camp at 11,200: Needleton Trailhead, 6.5 miles, 2900 ft
July 3rd: Camp to N Eoulus
then to Eolus then back to camp, Eolus, N
Eolus Saddle and NE Ridge Direct, Class 4, 5 miles,
4th: Camp to Sunlight to Windom to camp then back to
Needleton,South Slopes and West Ridge, class 4,11.5 miles, ~3800 ft
Mileage and Elevation: 23 miles, 10,000 feet (22 miles, 9200
feet for Jen, 19 miles, 6800 feet for Brian)
1st-3rd Heading to the basin and climbing North Eolus
a couple years where I put the 14ers on the back burner and focused on
becoming a more technical rock, snow, and ice climber I
to return to them during the spring and summer of 2007 with the goal of
finally finishing them. To be totally honest the main reason I became a
technical mountaineer is because of the 14ers and 14erworld.com
and the only way I feel I can be true to that heritage is to finish the
goal that started me down this path. I'd always felt that the
Chicago Basin 14ers would prove the most troublesome for me because of
how incredibly lazy I am when it comes to long drives and backpacks.
I managed to hike up Columbia earlier in the season which
completed all of the mountain ranges except for the San Juans.
Jen and I tackled Uncompahgre and Handies during the middle of June
which brought my total count up to 53 of the 59 14ers -
Description courtesy of Layne Bracy -Start with the 53 ranked
14ers (those with 300' prominence). This
includes Challenger Point, which the CMC apparently disregards.
Add the 5 named 14ers with under 300' prominence: North Eolus, Mt
Cameron, El Diente, North Maroon and Conundrum Peak.
Add "North Massive" (soft-ranked with estimated 280' prominence) and
voila 59 14ers.
We decided to tackle the Chicago Basin from the 2nd to the 5th of July.
These dates were chosen because I had been planning on being
the prior week for an attempt at Mt. Rainier (didn't happen but I did
do the Bell Cord and Notch Couloirs) and there was a great UFC event
over the following weekend. As it turned out these dates were
perfect and we managed to avoid most of the crowds, traffic, and bad
We drove out to Sally
on Sunday the 1st of July and dropped our birds off. If it
for her kindness in boarding our macaws as well as our downstairs
neighbor, Pat, who looked after our cats for us we would never be able
to get away from home. We returned home and packed up and went to bed.
We awoke around 5:30 Monday morning and headed over to my friend Brian
Morsony's place by 6:15. Brian wanted to come along but more
the back pack and camping than the peak bagging. His plan was
join us if he felt like it and hike around on his own if he didn't.
We all drove down to Silverton by way of Grand Junction to avoid the
slow drive down 285 and over Monarch Pass and arrived in about six and
a half hours. None of us knew where the train station was but
beta from 14ers.com
suggested that the town is so small that we would have no problem
locating the train. This proved to be true and we quickly
the ticket office where we picked up our tickets and then drove over to
an area next to the train where tourist buses were parked.
Apparently Silverton is very laid back about parking and, as
as it is not explicitly forbidden, you can park anywhere. We
parked right next to the buses and wandered into town to get a gift for
Sally (A DVD of the area and train) and get a quick cup of coffee.
After our short journey through town we headed to the train
we handed our bags to a conductor. He threw them in the
car and told us he'd come for us as we neared Needleton.
We boarded the 2:45 train and it set off. We had chosen to go
from Silverton because it was only an hours ride and it avoided us
having to drive down to Durango the night before to catch the 9:00 AM
train. For those interested, it costs 65 dollars for a round trip
ticket and doesn't matter what stop you get off at. If you are going to
Needleton you must tell a conductor because they don't stop there
is the train's website.
Once on the train we enjoyed the scenery along the Animas
for 45 minutes. We stopped briefly for the train to fill up
water right before the Needleton stop. After this the
ushered the three of us towards the front of the train so we would be
close to our packs when it stopped. The rain arrived at
around 3:45 and we got off and were handed our bags. As we
off we noticed a horde of bedraggled backpackers boarding the train.
I was guessing we'd be looking equally miserable in a few
time. The backpackers boarded the train and it left for
We noticed one bag was left and thought it was curious but could do
nothing about it so packed up and headed out. We immediately
across the owner of the bag. Apparently his partner had
an ankle and the train wouldn't wait for them so he had gone back to
carry her pack the rest of the way. He seemed pissed off
the situation but had enough food to spend another night and catch the
next day's train. I offered his companion medicine but they
enough so we waved goodbye and headed out. While I sympathize
with their situation, I understand that the train is carrying hundreds
of people on a tight schedule and is unlikely to stop unless there is a
real medical emergency. When you are hiking out to catch the
train plan on several extra hours to account for any eventuality.
It won't wait for you.
Starting Out On The Train
Off At Needleteon
Up For The Grueling Hike In
itself consists of a bridge across the Animas River (the river along
which the train runs) and four houses. Apparently the owners
these houses are allowed to ride the train for free. The
west of the tracks (across the river) is private for one quarter mile
in either direction. Please respect this and do not camp on
I hadn't bothered reading up on any of the information about the hike
in so found myself in for a bit of a shock. I'd been thinking
that we had about 1500 feet and five miles. In reality it was
about six or seven miles and 3000 feet. The hike itself was
pretty relentlessly uphill. It was never that steep but
maintained a decent grade the whole way. With heavy packs and
little sleep it was very tiring. Jen and I quickly separated
Brian. I know some people think you should never separate but
tend to think that you shouldn't hike with people that can't find their
own way up a completely obvious trail. I knew Brian had been
getting out a lot and figured he'd be fine. Jen and I made it
the trail in four hours with about 30 minutes of rest breaks.
was crossing my fingers the whole time because I had JUST picked up a
new pair of La Sportiva Glacier boots from Neptune Mountaineering a
days before. True to his word Neptune's Resident boot God,
Bird, had molded them to my feet. I did end up with minor
blisters but that was because of the distance and weight and the boots
worked perfectly for the whole trip. I generally would not
suggest people start out a long trip in new winter weight boots.
I just wanted them in case we encountered enough snow to
harder boots and because my lightweight boots lacked a rear bail point
for my crampons.
The hike in followed Needle Creek and passed several beautiful
waterfalls. We also noticed long strands of gossamer spider
being spun in all the trees. After several miserable hours Jen and I
found ourselves at about 11,200 feet in Chicago Basin.
A Beautiful Waterfall On The Approach
Spiderwebs In The Trees
Chicago Basin -Pt 18, Windom, unnamed, Jupiter
immediately chanced upon a decent camp site (around 8:00) with great
access to the stream and fresh water. As Jen and I were setting up two
other hikers passed by us to go to the stream. Their names
Tom and Rebecca and they were a married couple up for the same period
we were but they had come in from Durango. We made sure we
weren't blocking their path with our campsite and they assured us it
was fine so we said our goodbyes and set up our camp.
On the hike in we had encountered a ranger and his friend who grilled
us like we were rank amateurs. I'm guessing they've been
a lot of newer hikers coming through and were checking to make sure we
weren't going to kill ourselves but it was a bit over the top in my
opinion. If I hadn't been so miserably tired I would have
them we were going goat hunting when he asked us if we knew the rules
but the response didn't come to me until later. The one thing
ranger did that was very useful was to warn us to hang everything but
our tents and to even leave them open during the day because the
marmots were apparently on a warpath. This was good advice
because we met a fellow later on who lost a good deal of gear to these
I had heard that the marmots were bad and brought along a bottle of
coyote urine as a precaution. I sprayed it around the camp a
couple times and unfortunately got some of the noxious stuff on my
hands. I was a bit upset to see the warning about getting
attacked by coyotes if you got it on yourself and headed down to the
stream to wash off. I wasn't overly worried because I tend to
carry a 45 along on these types of trips and assume a coyote would not
be too keen on going up against that but I'd prefer to never shoot an
animal if it can be avoided and made a point to wash off thoroughly.
Jen and I made our dinner and enjoyed the scenery. After
Brian had still not arrived and I was starting to worry that I'd need
to go looking for him. At this point it was dark and I kept
seeing glaring animals eyes when I swept the trail with my headlight.
Every time I saw this I hoped it was actually Brian's
farther away. At one point a couple of goats passed by and I caught
them with the camera's flash. A deer wandered around for a
but was more elusive. Finally, around 9:30, I noticed a lone headlamp
coming up from the distance. I signaled it with my own and it
turned out to be Brian. Brian made it into camp, setup his own tent,
had a quick bite, and went to bed. Jen and I followed but not
before I found a dead tree that I could use to hang my entire
backpacking pack on. I had brought a spare day pack to use
the climbs and my big pack served as storage for our food and (during
the day) our sleeping bags.
Camp at 11,200, Brian Looks Invigorated
and I awoke around 5:00 in the morning. The weather forecast
the week was perfect Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday with a 20 percent
chance of showers Thursday so we weren't worried about getting a later
start. I also have come to the realization that successful
are made or broken on the basis of your initial hydration and
breakfast. I woke Brian up and he said forget it, he'd hike
around on his own and Jen and I could go. Jen and I spent an
or so eating breakfast and drinking water. As usual we split
the duties and Jen took care of filtering the water while I
cooked breakfast and hung the gear. After breakfast we stowed
everything on top of the tent or in my treed backpack except for the
sleeping pads and left the tent open. I made one last pass
the coyote urine and we headed off.
As a quick segue, this would mark the beginning of the great coyote
urine caper. After the morning dosing we never saw it again.
We checked all of our bags and the surrounding area several
and. even when we returned home and unpacked, it remained missing.
I have no idea where it is now but nothing ate our gear so it
either worked, had nothing to do with the safety of our gear, or was
carried off by an animal during the day. I'd like to think it
worked because animals circled our campground but never walked right
through it like they did other campers. In any event, we
off at 6:15. My GPS indicated we were camped at 11,165 feet.
Almost immediately Jen and I came to a junction which turned left for
Twin Lakes and went straight for Columbine Pass. We headed
and immediately started climbing upwards. We passed a few
grounds and then found ourselves on the new CFI trail. The
was quite steep and rocky but passed by enough goats and waterfalls to
make it a fun experience. According to Roach's guide we were
supposed to bear left and head up to the Eolus-North Eolus saddle on a
climbers trail but we never found one. While we were musing
which way to go, we caught up with Tom and Rebecca. After
walking close to each other for a time we decided to go up as a group.
It's always nice to have extra company and these two were
nice people. I never caught what Tom did but know he was ex-army and
that his wife was a school teacher. We decided to just
up and left towards the saddle and crossed over several boulders and a
stream on the way. As it turns out the old climbers trail no
longer exists and the proper way is to climb to Twin Lakes then head
left along a VERY clear trail. We realized this when, in our
trail meanderings, we found ourselves back on a clearly established
trail. While I appreciate the CFI's labor I question a lot of
their trails. They are either redundantly obnoxious
or way out of the way detours. Why not just build up the old climbers
trail which lead directly to the saddle rather than through a seriously
longer right angle into a trail for other peaks? I'll try to
established trails whenever possible but sometimes they are just a bit
Starting Out Towards Eolus
Waterfalls Along The Trail
Heading To The Eolus, North Eolus Saddle
Once we were
at the area below
the saddle we were presented with two snowfield options. I
remarked that the farther left one was probably the easiest and correct
one but that the one directly in front of us looked fine as well.
I started up the snow using only my poles but soon found it hardening
and steepening. I quickly swapped out the poles for my axe
headed up. Jen asked what I thought and I said crampons would
probably be a great idea, too bad I wasn't wearing them but I'm pretty
comfy on snow. This stuff was a bit scary though and I found
myself using the pick to climb (much like you would climb with one ice
tool). The snow was too hard to kick into and I was slowly
working myself up with the pick and the edge of my boots.
Apparently everyone else didn't like what they were watching
decided on a different route. Good for them, it was a bit sketchy and I
ended up on some low fifth class wet slabs at the top. This route was
definetly the spicy point of the trip for me.
Jen and Tom decided to follow a route farther to the left up some
easier but still probably 4th class slabs and Rebbecca intelligently
took the path I'd originally suggested and it turned out to be the
right one with only 30 or so feet of snow travel. As it
out she had never been on snow before. Good job Rebecca and
thank god you didn't follow my stupid beta-ignoring self. I
topped out on the ridge and scouted over the top of the line that Jen
and Tom were on and informed them it was a good one. They
their way up the wet rock and quickly joined me. We were also
soon joined by Rebecca. After we worked our way up to the top
the saddle at around 13,800 feet or
so we stopped and had a bit to eat. North Eolus looked like a
very tame first peak to grab so we headed up through some fun 3rd class
slab to its summit. Eolus itself looked very cool but I think
Rebecca was a bit intimidated by it so Jen and I assured her it would
be fun and easier than it looked. We also said we could all
summit out together then headed a few feet away to let Tom and her
discuss the prospect. In hindsight I'm hoping Jen and I
overly wear her out. We were trying to move slowly but have
getting out a good bit and we might have inadvertently pushed the pace.
We really weren't in any rush though since the weather was
perfect up to that point.
Jen & Tom On Their Route
My Stupid Choice Of Routes
Jen & Tom, Farther Up The Rocks, Rebecca On The Right Route
The Eolus, North Eolus Saddle
Eolus's NE Ridge
Jen and Tom, Heading Up North Eolus
Tom and Rebecca Coming Down From North Eolus
a little bit it appeared Tom had convinced Rebecca to go and the four
of us set off towards it. The initial catwalk was pretty neat
had the occasional 3rd classs stretches before culminating in a two
foot section with a very cool drop off on either side. After
we headed up a series of steps and dirt ledges which followed cairns on
the left side of the direct ridge. After we came to a stretch
that looked completely straightforward Tom and Rebecca headed up it
and Jen and I moved onto the 4th class ridge direct route.
was a lot of fun and pretty solid and straightforward. I
shy away from the direct route as it seemed a lot more solid than the
"easier" ledge alternative. Jen and I made short work of the
exposed ridge and found ourselves a top Eolus. According to
GPS the summit was about 100 yards away over thin air but I assumed
this was a topo map coordinate error and didn't try for a jump.
After a bit Tom and Rebecca joined us and we took a nice
pleasant break for lunch.
While on top of Eolus, we noticed a pair of guys hauling over from
Eolus. They made short work of the ridge and joined us.
turned out it was marmotman and benners from 14ers.com and they had
blown through all four summits (Windom and Sunlight before the pair of
Eolus summits) in about 7.5 hours. To be in your
twenties again, these guys were fast. As it turns out
Benner's has a father who was so supportive of his
hiking/climbing that he was funding everything for him towards the
goal of finishing all of the 14ers this summer. Apparently
his Dad was even considering finishing up with them on top of Lindsey
and having a helicopter pick them all up. I thought that was
cool. His Dad was even paying for all the lodging, gear, and
for his son's friend so his son would have company. Both of
young men were polite and friendly and it's good to see parents who
support their kids that much and still raise good ones. Two
thumbs up to your mission guys, I'm jealous.
The Catwalk To Eolus
Starting The NE Ridge
Some Grassy Slopes
A Bit Of A Drop Off
Heading To The Direct Ridge
Some Scrambling On The Direct Ridge
Jen Coming Up A Steeper Section
Looking Back At North Eolus, Vestal & Trinity Peak Are in View
Sunlight & Windom
a while on the summit we decided to head back to camp. Tom
had been tossing back the idea of doing the other two summits that day
but the ladies weren't interested so we agreed to meet up in the
morning and give it a go. I quickly checked with Tom if they
cool getting down and he said sure. Jen and I tend to blaze downhill
and headed off. We took the path of least resistance down the
easier variation and moved back to the 4th class ridge at the end to
avoid a whole lot of scrambling around. There was a bit of
down climbing but we got through it and headed on.
We headed back over to the snow Rebecca had come up and headed down
it. It had warmed up enough that it was soft enough to
and plunge step. I tried to avoid most of the glissading because I
didn't feel like having a wet ass for the rest of the trip.
hike down was pretty miserable due to a blazing sun and steep, loose
trail. The views were great and we took pictures of the many
flowers and goats along the way but we were sweating and quite parched.
We arrived back at camp around 2:30 and found it to be
hot and mosquito infested. Brian was asleep in his tent but
up quickly. He had hiked up to Twin Lakes then headed down.
Benners & Marmotman From 14ers.com
Peak 18 with Windom Behind and Jupiter Far To The Right
at camp we hung out and filtered water. Brian had one of the
filters that was super easy to use, all you did was fill up a Nalgene 1
liter bottle and stick the bulb in and swirl it for 90 seconds and
the UV killed everything. It wouldn't filter particulates but
since we were pulling from a fast running stream it didn't matter. We
withstood the barrage of mosquitoes as best we could but even bugspray
with 95% DEET barely phased them. I was still stung
repeatedly, even biting through our clothes. During
the day we noticed
marmots circling the camp but never coming in. Fortunately
our gear remained OK. About 5:00 we made dinner. At one point
wandered in our camp and said Rebecca was feeling pretty badly and not
to count them in for tomorrow. We said we'd stop by and
check in the morning and said goodnight. After a bit longer
tried to sleep. Jen was somewhat successful but I was
and got less than two or three hours. I woke up a bunch of
and wandered around to read and look at the stars. The one
winning peace of gear I had was my Montbell Stretch Burrow Bag.
That thing was so super malleable that I was able to roll
and get dressed and undressed in it. At the least my bag was
great. I'd strongly reccomend people buy them for summer
For the winter I still say Western Mountaineering.
At some point, after tossing and turning all night I noticed it was
3:45 and time to get up again.
A Marmot Kept At Bay (By Coyote Urine?), I Know It Wants My Leki Poles
Page 2: July
4th - July 6th