| Part 2: Blitzing the San Juans in the Monsoon
Day 5: A bicentennial day
Jones Mountain 13,860
Niagara Peak 13,807
“American Peak” 13,806
10 miles 4100 feet
We returned to the Burns Gulch TH to climb the Jones group. There is a good trail all the way to the saddle between Jones and Niagara. From there it is a rough use trail up Niagara.
The use trail remains good all the way up Jones. We lost the trail a bit on the north ridge but the travel was not too difficult.
Roach describes the traverse around “American’s” sub-summits as rough. Maybe it was at one point but now there is an excellent use trail which leads to the summit where we could yell at people on Handies.
The descent into the basin north of Jones was the roughest part of the day. It was endless talus to the lake. From there it was an easy walk back to the road.
Campsite among the RVs (photo by tdawg)
Moisture in the valley (photo by tdawg)
Handies Peak (photo by tdawg)
Day 6: Gathering of the orphans part 2
Tower Mountain 13,552
Dome Mountain 13,370
“Proposal Peak” 13,330
13 miles 5500 feet
We started from the boulder gulch trail. It has not be cleared of deadfall from last winter’s wind storms. After the second avalanche chute we headed up hoping to find a use trail up to the lake just north of Dome. We found a trail which led us east to a steep grassy gully which led to the ridge. I recommend finding the lake and ascending those slopes. On the ridge we picked out our campsite, less than a mile away and 2,500 feet below us. A step in Dome’s NE ridge worried me a bit. The ridge before that point was mostly grass, then we found a use trail through the talus and scree up to the step. Tdawg bypassed the step on the west side on loose class 2+ junk while I tackled the step head on. I was a fairly solid class 3 step. The rest of the ridge to the summit was mostly class 2+ with a few class 3 moves. It took a lot longer to reach the summit than I had thought. The weather held so far, so it was on to Tower.
Class 3 step on Dome
NE ridge of Dome
The west ridge of Dome could be kept at class 2 but, the class 3 was more solid and more fun to descend. We dropped into Cataract Gulch and ascended the grassy slopes to regain the ridge proper and followed a use trail to Tower. We discussed whether the weather would hold for us to climb “East Storm” and “Proposal”. The clouds suggested we would only be able to climb one, we decided on “Proposal”, so someday we could climb the storms together.
W ridge of Dome
Cataract Gulch (photo by tdawg)
N ridge of Tower (photo by tdawg)
It was an easy ridge until just before the saddle, where I skied down some scree in one gully to reach the saddle, tdawg explored another gully. Then the real fun began, a 600 foot climb up some fine San Juan scree and talus. Once on top of the talus we debated the best way around a ridge point, I said we should climb over it or descend 100 feet on the west side, tdawg insisted we follow a use trail on the east side. I obliged and we ended up traversing some more fine scree and climbed the ridge point anyway. If doing this traverse climb over the ridge point or descend west and follow the grassy slopes back up to the ridge. The rest of the ridge did not have any difficulties and soon we were on the summit, where we were greeted with a hail storm, no lighting yet. We debated climbing Emery, so we started out on the ridge and soon came to an ugly wet loose class 4 step. A crack of thunder made our decision not to proceed easier. We descended into Slagle basin then traversed over into McCarty Basin via the red saddle, from there we followed elk trails down to the road and hiked out.
Studying the ridge to Emery (photo by tdawg)
Day 7: Gathering the Orphans Part 3, La Hurricana Bonita Cafe Roja
Hurricane Peak 13,447 (Unranked)
Brown Mountain 13,339
Bonita Peak 13,286
Red Mountain No. 1 12,592
12 miles 5500 feet
From the pullout in Gladstone we headed up the road toward Bonita, bypassing some nice cabins along the way. We left the road and ascended the grassy west ridge of Bonita. The summit block of Bonita looked interesting from the shoulder of the peak. There was a use trail and then a little class 2+ action before gaining the summit. The north ridge was fairly easy with a little bit of scree, just before the Hurricane Pass road we encountered a class 4 step, which can be bypassed on either side of the ridge on scree and talus.
Red Mountain No 1
Summit block of Bonita
summit ridge of Bonita (photo by tdawg)
Hurricane Pass and Peak
Hurricane was a quick climb from the road, it was weird being on the highpoint of the day and not having it ranked. Storms were brewing so it was time to boogie. Brown Mountain was an easy class 2 walk to the summit via the north ridge.
Lake below Brown
Brown’s west ridge was more grass and made for a very quick descent. The weather cleared enough for us to attempt Red. So we followed the Corkscrew road to the saddle then headed up the white then red scree to the summit.
tdawg's token handstand
It was then a quick walk down the road back to Gladstone.
Day 8: Meeting the Sultan of Silverton
Sultan Mountain 13,368
Grand Turk 13,180
Spencer Mountain 13,087 (unranked)
“West Turkshed” 12,849
8 miles 3800 feet
Our eighth straight day would be one of our easiest. We followed the CO trail from Molas Pass up to a bench where we headed north towards our peaks for the day. We found the trail which took us to the saddle with West Turkshed, it was grass all the way to the summit.
I've been putting these peaks off for too long
We picked up the trail and traversed around Spencer. Grand Turk went quick from the saddle. The theme of this trip was short summit stays and always running from storms. We ran up Sultan in 20 minutes from Grand Turk, then ran to Spencer. Lightning over the Twin Sisters made our stay short and we ran down to the TH. To celebrate our halfway point we had pizza at Avalanche Brewery in Silverton, and I had the Sultan IPA in honor of our hike.
Part 3 coming soon
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