after success in the san juans on little bear and san luis, we felt it was the perfect time to hop on the train and head into the chicago basin for a mission. we hopped the 2:30 train from silverton and arrived at needleton around 3:45. the trail in to the basin was nice and mellow, and in the shade for the most part. we found out that we were a day behind a group from the cfi who had been clearing the trail of dead fall. thanks guys!
we arrived at our campsite at 7:15, set up, cooked, and crashed, with the alarms set for 2:30.
we awoke eager to embark on the mission we had been waiting for so long to do. leaving camp at 3 we trudged through the dark and reached twin lakes at 4. a quick snack and beta review and we were on our way up the headwall leading to sunlight's upper basin. where there was snow it was firm, and we could easily find our way with the light from out lamps. we followed the well marked path up the gully and to sunlight's saddle.
first sunlight on sunlight
eager to gain our first summit for the day we pushed on. through the rabbit hole and finally up to the summit block by 6:02 am.
#50 for me!
this is love
we got it back together and descended towards our next summit. the snow in the basin was still holding, making a high traverse very easy. from the saddle, the way to windom was clear. we summitted at 7:39 am.
windom with sunlight behind
we opted to glissade some steep chutes back down to the basin, gripping for sure but we were excited to skip the scree. back at twin lakes by 9:00.
after a quick refil on water we were on our way at 9:30.
the hike up to eolus was steeper that it looked and we dug deep to get up there. the only place we encountered snow on this side was on the ramp leading up to the saddle. since we had carried them all the way we decided to put crampons on, though it could definitely be done without. we gained the saddle, and it was time to get gnarly again. the catwalk was dry, and the remaining climb made me feel like i was hiking the bells. loose ledges and careful climbing got us to the summit by 11:39, tired but still with our eyes on the prize.
things are startin to line up!
we descended carefully and made our way down and back across the catwalk. a major sigh of relief as we transitioned to the stable slabs of el norte.
a quick scramble up and we found ourselves on our fourth summit of the day at 12:30.
crush mode on el norte
knowing we still had a way to go we gathered ourselves one last time for the final descent. we trudged on back to camp, with whisky and moonshine in the tent as motivators. we arrived finally at 2:20
The chicago basin is truly an amazing place, and is the most remote place either of us have been. we started our 14ers in the front range, and it is really nice contrast to experience areas like this. with great love and respect for the mountains in this basin, we say thank you, and happy trails to all who indulge!
some more visual froth for all you frothers:
first sun on eolus and el norte
right off sunlight
windom from sunlight
cairns that would make andy goldsworthy proud
twin lakes rest stop
making use of the gear
gaining eolus saddle
zac gaining the saddle
sunlight and windom from eolus
cat walk from the saddle
tasty treats waiting at camp