For this trip up T 0, I used the route outlined in the Telluride Trails guidebook, by Don Scarmuzzi. The route follows the southeast ridge of Campbell Peak, and starts at the Eider Creek trailhead at around 9,130 ft, located a few minutes up Mill Creek Road, above the Shell gas station just west of Telluride. Total vertical gain is about 4,600, but closer to 5,000 if you count descending (and re-ascending) twice the 200-foot saddle between Campbell and T 0. My moderate time to the top of T 0 was 5 hours, with a lunch break, several water breaks, and a number of photo stops (guidebook estimates 4.5 to 5 hours to top). My return was also 5 hours, mostly due to numerous photo stops, and a good half-hour taking in the view from the summit.
The advantage of the guidebook route seems to be that you avoid the worst scree that looks very loose and steep in the basins around T 0. On the other hand, the guidebook route includes a forest bushwhack over large blown-down trees, full of sharp spikes. There is also a brief scramble, perhaps class 3 at the top, over a cliff band below Campbell Peak’s summit.
The first part of the route is an easy hike up the Eider Creek Trail (north) for about 45 min, and then a left turn (west) at the junction with Deep Creek Trail. After about another 15 min on Deep Creek, I turned north for the forest bushwhack at a chainsaw cut on a large blown-down tree (GPS N37 58.210 W107 50.775 at 10,378 ft). I followed a subtle ridge and animal paths heading north for a bit, and then turning a bit more west to emerge in a field below a drainage on Campbell’s southeast ridge. (GPS N37 58.382 W107 50.926 at 10,772 ft). The bushwhacking was tedious, requiring weaving around and over large blown-down trees, but it only took about 20 minutes from the start of the animal paths to the field below the drainage.
I hiked up to Campbell’s southeast ridge on the right side of a steep field, going between a few rock spires over some terraces made by herbivore animals. Thank you, herbivores, for all that you do. Once on the ridge, I hiked close to the basin edge up to around 12,750, to the base of what the guidebook author refers to as a “rock obstacle”. From a distance, this rock obstacle appears menacing, but there is a crack on the right side that is mostly a steep, chopped-up staircase. There is some loose rock, however, and the upper part of the crack becomes steeper, with handholds spaced farther apart. This last part is perhaps class-3 terrain. I scrambled over the rock obstacle carefully, mindful of the exposure to the basin below. From the top of this scramble, Campbell’s summit is only about 15 minutes farther up the ridge.
A recent snow storm had left some hard wind-packed drifts on parts of the ridge descending to the saddle with T 0, which forced me to weave closer to the basin edge than I would have liked. I salute those who have the fortitude to cut a trail through the steep slop that lines the basin walls here (and above Mill Creek Basin, and above Blue Lakes Basin), but it is above my current pay grade.
Now at the Campbell / T 0 saddle (13,000 ft), my 50-year-old bones were barking, but I soldiered on, encouraged by the brilliant bluebird sky, and the birds of prey circling overhead. Yet another good reason for wearing a rock helmet. The remaining hike to the top of T 0 was over fairly large and stable talus, crossing two rock bands, first red, then white. The upper white band looked like fun scrambling, but my batteries were low, so I just walked around the rocks to the east, and then angled back west to the ridge.
T 0 from the south ridge is interesting in that you can’t see Mount Sneffels until you poke your head above the actual summit level. Once there, I took photos, signed the well-worn summit log, and soaked in the views from all directions. I retraced my steps back down, with sore feet, but with a smile on my face, and a cleansed sole.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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