| Chicago Basin Sweep
August 21-24, 2007
Total Stats: ~26.8 Miles, ~14,100 Gain.
Trailhead: Needleton TH via the train.
By this point in my 14er bagging career, I knew that I was going to attempt to climb all of the 13ers and because of that, I was going to make the most efficient trip of ranked peaks in Chicago Basin. I took the afternoon train on the 21st from Silverton arriving at areasonable time in Needleton to make the hike into Chicago Basin.
Along with several others, we departed the train and started our journey into Chicago Basin. Due to the number of people, I hiked fast to get ahead to ensure I obtained a camp site. The trail was easy to follow and I set up camp at the highest allowed spot around ~11,400. I was expecting a wilderness experience but was disappointed by the shear number of people in Chicago Basin. I even saw a camp with their family dog, llamas, large tents and camp chairs.
Gateway to Chicago Basin.
Kennedy on the approach.
First sight of Windom.
My camp was set up close to dusk, and then I woke up just before the sunlight filled the valley. From my campsite, I made the short hike to the east slopes of Eolus. Route finding was easy as I made my way to the Eolus-North Eolus saddle. Despite all of the hype about the catwalk, I found it rather disappointing but neat nevertheless. I arrived on the summit of Eolus and was amazed at the views of the San Jauns. At the time, I was a complete noob to the Weminuche. My stay was short and I made the quick side trip to North Eolus.
Eolus in the morning light.
Summit views from Eolus.
Pigeon from the summit of Eolus.
Eolus from North Eolus.
The weather was still good so I descended to the lakes just below the south face of Peak 11 where I scoped a line for Peak 11. Planning on climbing the 14ers, of course, first. I made my way to the top of Sunlight where I thoroughly enjoyed the class 4 finish. I descended Sunlight and made the short hike up the west ridge of Windom and enjoyed my “finish.” I wasn't expecting to climb Culebra anytime soon.
Working my way up Sunlight.
Windom from near the summit of Sunlight.
Summit is near.
Looking back at Sunlight.
After Windom, I returned to the lakes at the base of the south face of Peak 11. I had found very little information on Peak 11 but found a reasonable path to the summit. From the lakes at the base of Peak 11, I climbed towards Twin Thumb Pass between Glacier point and Twin Thumbs. About 2/3s up to the pass, I headed northeast along a grassy ledge that angled across the western side of the south face of Peak 11.
Peak 11 from the lakes.
Peak 11 hiking up Twin Thumbs pass.
I followed the narrow grass ledge across the south face of Peak 11 as the ledge angled upward. Eventually, the grass ledge took me to a gully that led to the summit. Some class 3 moves were required as I climbed up the gully. The crux of the gully was climbing over a large chockstone.
Route up Peak 11.
Grassy ledge on Peak 11.
Climbing upward in the gully, I was deposited on the west side of Peak 11's summit block. Some more class 3 scrambling was required to gain the summit. One of the finest 13er summits I have climbed. The register dated back to the '60s and had less than 150 signatures! It was a unique position between Eolus and Sunlight where there was so much traffic that could just be observed in solitude from the summit of Peak 11.
Class 3 gully on Peak 11.
Eolus from the summit.
Sunlight from the summit.
I descended my route back to the lakes and followed the trail back to my camp. I went to bed and woke up well before sunrise where I packed up camp and descended back down to the Columbine Pass trail and started my way towards Jupiter. I hiked up the Columbine Pass trail until ~11,700 where I departed the trail for the southwest slopes of Jupiter. The climbing up Jupiter wasn't difficult and I arrived on the summit looking across the valley at my next peak, Aztec Mountain.
Wildlife on Jupiter.
Aztec from Jupiter.
My stay was short on Jupiter, and I descended back down the southwest slopes until ~12,000 where I traversed across scree to the Aztec-13,190 saddle. Being the San Juans, the scree was a bit obnoxious gaining the saddle. From the Aztec-13,190 saddle, I climbed up the east ridge of Aztec on the south side of the ridge. There were a few minor cliff bands that had to be negotiated with some very short sections of class 3. I arrived on the summit of Aztec and thoroughly enjoyed the views of Chicago Basin.
Gully to the saddle on Aztec.
East ridge on Aztec.
Class 3 section on Aztec.
Returning back to the Aztec-13,190 saddle, I descended the scree slopes back to the Columbine trail, and once I intercepted the Columbine Trail, I hiked back to Needleton where I camped. The following morning I caught the early train back to Silverton completing a full tour-de-Chicago Basin.
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