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 Peak(s):  North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,082 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
 Post Date:  06/26/2013
 Date Climbed:   06/26/2013
 Posted By:  zephyr_pelicante
 Zero tickets to paradise: Chicago basin from Purgatory   

First, condolences to the family and friends of Steve Gladbach. Steve and I had a great conversation on Shavano. It was a pleasure getting to know him and I know he contributed much to this climbing community and will be deeply missed.
RIP Steve


6/24/2013: North Eolus and Mount Eolus


Start Time: 1 AM
End Time: 3 PM
Total Time: 14 hours
Distance: 22 Miles
Elevation Gain: 8000'

I can't believe I almost paid $$$$ to ride the train and miss out on a great trek through the San Juans that is seen on the Purgatory approach to Chicago Basin.

By the time the train took off from Durango we had made camp in Chicago Basin and were on our way to Eolus.

First indication of whether or not you have reached Chicago Basin is whether you see the dozens of mountain goats. They seem to respond well to howling and swinging of the Ice Axe.

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The hike up to twin lakes is spectacular, and you are rewarded with the view of the needles

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Then began the trek to Eolus. We met Tom from Florida, and headed toward the catwalk.

We decided to do North Eolus first. Then Eolus

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North Eolus South

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Eolus West


We got over 12 hours of sleep, it felt quite good.


6/25/2013: Windom Peak and Sunlight Peak


Start Time: 8 AM
End Time: 11 PM
Total Time: 15 hours
Distance: 23 Miles
Elevation Gain: 6000'

The goats didn't eat anything (thankfully) and we were able to get up to the peaks. We went for Windom first, then hit Sunlight. No snow anywhere.

I was able to hop right up to the Sunlight Summit and was pleasantly surprised with how it went. I did take a bit of time calculating going down, the rocks are angled in such a way that allows you to walk UP to the summit, but when going DOWN, I did find the "Leap of Faith" to be the best way. Next time I go, I want to take the friction slab. It would be quite comfortable with rock climbing shoes and some chalk.

Words can't express how ridiculously incredible this area is so I'll just post the photos.

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Sunlight

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Sunlight Spire

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Upper Basin

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Looking at Rio Grande Pyramid through Sunlight Window

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Looking East from Windom

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Looking North from Sunlight

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West Fork Fire

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Leap of Faith


The trip down was pretty sweet too. There were less than a dozen folks in the basin while we were there, but we must have seen 30-40 people coming up as we were going back on Monday.

We were both dreading the last 1100' gain from the Animas River Bridge back up to Purgatory, but for me what was the hardest was the constant pounding on my feet on the 7 miles from the Needle Creek Bridge to the Animas River Bridge. Good thing the scenery was astonishing. As my Dad said it looked like a "Dry version of the Pacific North West"

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Dad Crossing the Animas


This is a valid and enjoyable alternative to the train. Highly recommended. This can be done in fewer days than the train given the train schedule.

Growing up in Durango, I do know how scenic the train ride is. However, the combination of the drive to purgatory form Durango, and the hike to the Needle Creek TH is even more scenic than the train.
Notably, you're actually hiking along the train for about 7 miles anyway.

Tip: get back in time for half priced appetizers at Applebees.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):


  • Comments or Questions
rambis_21


haha     2013-06-26 19:55:55
Wow, what a looooooooooooooonng trek for two days. Your dad is a beast for doing the whole thing with you. Good job again zephyr!


scottfarish


did we see you??     2013-06-26 20:11:38
We also came out on Monday, and we played poker with ”Tom from Florida” and his family while we waited for the train.

You're right about those goats... the baby ones were cool for all of 30 seconds, until we figured out that they were the decoys while the older ones went for our stash.

Nice work taking this trip from Purgatory... that had to be a beast of a hike back out of the Animas Valley.


rajz06


Beautiful Area!     2013-06-26 21:16:20
Indeed, your pictures say it better than any words good. Two marathon hikes back to back - impressive work by both dad and son!


Dancesatmoonrise


Wow!     2013-06-26 22:42:57
To live vicariously through your photos!

Awesome!

Great job, all!!


I Man


Awesome!!     2013-06-27 10:10:51
Nice job, man. I have enjoyed watching you progress through your trip reports.
I am hoping to do something similar to this in August or September. Thanks for posting!


iquack08

Sounds good!     2013-06-28 20:42:33
I will be doing this later this summer.


blazintoes


Inspiring     2013-07-11 12:19:40
We are on our way to duplicate this AWESOME alternate route tomorrow!!! Thank you sooooooo much for posting!


rockchalker


Train vs Trail     2013-07-15 11:14:21
We have a very similar trip planned for the first week of September but were planning to take the train to Needleton, it is expensive. Did you start at the Purgatory trail head at Purgatory? How long did it take to get from there to where the train drops hikers off?

Thanks!


zephyr_pelicante


.     2013-07-15 11:22:30
It's about 10 miles



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