Peak(s):  Ouray, Mt  -  13,971 feet
Post Date:  11/29/2011
Modified:  12/06/2011
Date Climbed:   11/26/2011
Posted By:  globreal

 13 On A 13er!   

Mount Ouray—13,971

Climb Date: Saturday, 26 November, 2011
Trailhead: Gray’s Creek

Start time: 8:10am
Summit: 12:37pm
Time on Summit: 1:10
Back to car: 5:00pm

Crew: 13 members of

Note: it was moonstalker who came up with the name of this TR on the summit. She gets the credit!

Alpine glow at sunrise.
Mount Ouray from CR 200

There had been three, snow storms so far this fall of 2011, and then came the Indian summer during Thanksgiving week. With all of the sunshine and warm temps, I wanted to climb! I put up the request for partners to join me on another climb of a Centennial. I never would have believed that 13 people would show up for this climb of a 13er!
8am at the Gray's Creek TH

I put out the request to show up at 7:30am to gear up, so we could be on the trail by 8am. That was an hour and 10 minutes after the 6:50am sunrise…when I usually like to be hiking by. However, I moved the start time back a little bit as the weather forecast showed the jet stream blowing hard winds out of the north, but they would be moving away from us to the east throughout the day. Most of our group didn’t show up til right at 8am but, we had everyone out of the parking lot by 8:10am. Not to bad.

Our route was to head due west alongside Gray’s Creek.
(photo by: thatnissanguy)
Over the river...

Image And through the woods!

It was all smiles in that warm sunshine under clear blue skies!

The front runners leading the charge veered away from Gray’s Creek (more to the south) and headed more directly up the steeper slope towards the east-west ridgeline. In the trees, there was a little bit more snow to stomp through than anticipated however, it wasn't to bad. And that was good since most of us elected to leave our snowshoes in the car. That turned out to be a wise choice.

As we started to emerge from the trees at treeline, out popped a beautiful view of our goal for the day.
Looking west at Mount Ouray

Looking east at treeline

Image We took a short break here at treeline….and wildlobo71 discovered that his water tube had frozen...and this is early into the day!

A little bit higher on up, we were given this view of the “Devil’s Armchair.”
The cirque underneath Ouray's east side known as the "Devil's Armchair."

Instead of following the creek all the way up to the Devil’s Armchair, we had slowly shifted south and up on the side of the east-west ridgeline that comes down from Mount Ouray. This was a talus field, but it was mostly stable rock.

The winds at 15,000 feet (500mb) were forecasted to be quite high this morning….like upwards of 50-80 knots. We could see evidence of this as plumes of “snow smoke” blew off the summit.

Up to this point from car to treeline, we had not felt ANY winds. Nada, zippo!

It wasn’t until we topped out on the top of the east-west ridge did we start to feel some of those winds.

There is one false summit along this ridgeline which we circumvented by going over to the west side. This turned out to be a nice move. We avoided climbing some extra elevation but also enjoyed a total wind block. In fact, with the solar/radiated sunshine, it got quite warm.

That was short lived though once we came out of the comfort of the false summit. Now, the winds were back and we were graced with this nice view of Mount Ouray. As you can see, there is not any real exposure to be concerned with on this gentle route up this Centennial.
(photo by thatnissanguy)

The first 3 our our group reached the summit at 12:05pm.
(photo by thatnissanguy)

They got this picture of me coming on up next, followed by mountainjam and you can see there was a bit of wind up high in the alpine.

I made it to the summit at 12:37pm…covering the 4.2 miles and 4,300 verts just about 1 mph and 1,000 vertical feet/hour.
The "pile 'o rock" on a broad and gentle sloping summit

mountain jam comes on up to tag the true summit as well

The first 3 guys had taken up residence on the south side of the peak which proved to be in a remarkable "wind-shadow."
Image Enjoying the view of Antora to the south.

The 360˙ views from this peak are amazing! It’s a stunning sight looking the the south east at the Sangre de Christo range.
(photo by: milan)

Going over to the north side of Mount Ouray gives this really beautiful view of the rest of the Sawatch range.
(photo by: milan)

Over on this north side of the summit is a nice, full-circle, rock wind-block. However, this time of year, it looks more like an overflowing hot tub!

Meanwhile, back on the south side, the summit party has begun with a full array of 13 summiteers!
Image (photo by: mountainjam)

We organized the troops and took the group shot.
Image 13 on a 13er. (photo by: mountainjam)

Milan decided to stay warm by changing out his wet baselayer to a dry one.

wildlobo 71 decided to get warm by downing some bourbon!

EmmaM decided to warm up by re-fueling on beets. (What kinda summit food is that?) Notice how they matched her Arc’terx? I think that was what she was after. Bill tried offering her the bourbon….which has got to taste better than beets!

Jerry and Terry are drinking something warm but I don’t know what.

moonstalker is showing off her 1st Ascent Peak 15 jacket. Yeah….she’s toasty warm in that one.

People arrived at different times which means different length of times on the summit. For me, I ended up enjoying 1 hour 10 minutes on top. That’s a long time even for a summer summit!! Just goes to show how nice it was basking in the sun in that wind-shadow on the south side of the peak. What an amazing "winter conditions" (not “calendar winter”) climb.

It was just before 2pm when we all started heading back down.
Image (photo by: thatnissanguy)

We took our time getting back the cars…enjoying a leisurely 3 hour hike back. And during that hike back, I am sure we all were asking, “what's our next winter-conditions climb going to be?:

We all made it back down the mountain to the cars without any problems. My assessment, this peak is a good peak to climb during winter or in winter conditions. Overall, I think the avy danger would usually be relatively low for most of this route. Once again, I am grateful for yet another answered prayer...for a safe and successful climb.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

Something warm     11/29/2011 22:19
Was hot chocolate!


In the 2nd Group Photo...     11/29/2011 22:37 that Kenny in the middle?!

(someone had to say it... )

Looks like a nice, enjoyable winter climb. Thanks for sharing!


I got warmer that way.     11/29/2011 22:46
Nice report, and you put my ”decent exposure” picture here...
I rather should have brought hot chocolate as well.

Mel McKinney

Looks like a good time...     11/29/2011 23:09
Emma may be the only person to have eaten beets on a 14er.
Congrats to all!


Excellent!     11/30/2011 00:01
Great TR Britt and a great day! Thanks for putting everything together. It was great to meet some more folks from the website. Hopefully we can do it again soon!


Good stuff.     03/04/2012 18:31
Nice write up Britt. Looked like a fun day, wish I could have made it.


Jealous     11/30/2011 02:02
Jealous, jealous, jealous, I wish I could have joined you all. I have a hard time believing it was hot chocolate Terry was drinking.
I am the girl who Terry helped my a$$ up Mt Wilson this summer.
Thanks again, Terry!


Great trip!!     11/30/2011 02:40
Wow! Great report and super shots people! I've had my eye on Ouray for several years now, and wish I could've joined you on this one! Outstanding job! Thanks for sharing, as it was the next best thing!


looks like a great day     11/30/2011 17:53
Sorry I couldn't make it but it looks like it was a great day for a hike and quite a group for winter conditions.

moon stalker

It was a fun day!     11/30/2011 20:00
Great trip report, great pictures. All in all, the wind wasn't too bad. At least it didn't whip up TOO much of the snow. Great hike. Thanks for organizing Britt.


hey     12/01/2011 01:03
Congrats you guys on a great trip. Sorry I couldn't be there. Nice write-up, Britt!


Nice!     12/01/2011 02:10
Very bummed to miss this one.
I'll make up for it later!
Excellent write up and pics, Britt!
Climb on!


Note:     12/07/2011 06:04
It was moon stalker who came up with the name of this TR on the summit. She gets the credit!

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