Peak(s):  Jupiter Mtn  -  13,830 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,082 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Eighteen, Pk  -  13,472 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
Post Date:  03/23/2014
Date Climbed:   03/13/2014
Posted By:  Dad Mike
Additional Members:   Joe W, dsunwall

 Chicago Basin - Worst Trip Ever  

Day 1:
Thursday, March 13
Trail to Cascade
Animas River & Needle Creek Trails to New York Creek Camp (9,170')
7.5 miles, 1750'

Day 2:
Friday, March 14
Needle Creek Trail to Upper Chicago Basin Camp (11,200')
Recon Hike to Open Area Below Eolus
Break Trail to Treeline on Jupiter
6 miles, 3000'

Day 3:
Saturday, March 15
Jupiter Mountain, Windom Peak, Sunlight Peak and Peak 18
5.5 miles, 4700'

Day 4:
Sunday, March 16
North Eolus, Mt. Eolus
Needle Creek Trail to Train Tracks to Cascade
16 miles, 3000'

I hate to start a trip report off like this, but I feel like I need to address the topic of poaching. There was another group coming out of Chicago Basin as we were going in. It was suggested that we were poaching their efforts. Here's what I have to say about that accusation..
Hell yeah I did that. I love poaching trenches. I want to make things as easy as possible for myself. I do not embrace the effort and challenge it takes to climb peaks in winter. I actually hate climbing peaks in winter. There is absolutely nothing I enjoy about it. Breaking my own trail is not a beautiful thing and not one of the things that keeps me coming back for more. I troll to find routes that have recently been broken so that I can take advantage of those efforts. Of course I knew Jeff and Jim were climbing peaks in Chicago Basin. I had a tracking device placed on Jim last time I saw him. I was actually the one that called the helicopter. I needed to know which routes he climbed so I could follow his every foot step.

My two partners for this trip were Joe "Smokey" Winters and Dwight "The Legend" Sunwall. I had been out with Joe before, but had never met Dwight. I was not excited to hike with either of these two. They clearly have limited experience in the mountains and have really bad reputations. I should have listened to my gut and went somewhere else. I did not enjoy the company and it made my experience in Chicago Basin one that I would want to forget...THE WORST TRIP EVER.

I'll keep this short and sweet. Here are my least favorite pictures...

I hate this stupid train. The big black engine, the steam spraying over the bridge, the history...who needs it?

The 3 of us didn't get along from the start. Here they are leaving me behind.

We decided to take the Animas River Trail because we didn't think a snow bridge would be available. Snowshoes were not needed and the ice on the trail was really fun.

Over the river and through the the Needle Creek Trail. Boring snow pillows on the rocks. I really didn't appreciate this beautiful scenery at all.

Shortly after turning on to the Needle Creek Trail, we ran into Jim (Yikes) and Jeff (Mickeys Grenade). They bored us with their stories of the peaks they had climbed and the SAR helicopter visit. (little did they know it was really the Mike Silvestro Spy Helicopter) I didn't admire their efforts or the fact that they spent 6 nights out here. It was not great to run into people you know in the middle of the wilderness. I did not enjoy our little visit.

The 3 of us moved on and reluctantly set up a camp together above the New York Creek Bridge.

We headed out around 9am into cloudy and snowy conditions. Once we got into the basin, we were greeted with this shitty view.

We briefly considered camping closer to treeline, but liked the idea of having some protection from the wind and access to running water. We camped here. I hated it.

My bedroom and adjoining kitchen.

That night we discussed strategies and peak goals for the next day. Dwight and Joe wanted to start with Eolus. I couldn't stand to be around these 2 anymore so I decided I would go in the opposite direction and start with Jupiter. Here is the end of the trail I broke on Friday afternoon. The route goes to the right before climbing a large snow slope that gains the East Ridge.

A look across the valley at Joe and Dwight (you can see their headlamps). It wasn't cool to be able to see them and watch their progress. I wasn't rooting for them.

Nearing the summit of Jupiter

Summit of Jupiter

Route to Windom

Short couloir used to gain Windom's East Ridge

Windom's East Ridge in a brief clearing. The weather would tease us all day...not annoying at all.

Looking back at my best guess at the moons (couloirs) of Jupiter and my descent route

Not having any fun on the summit of Windom

I descended to the Windom, Sunlight saddle and did some remote recon work on the south side of Jagged. Just as I was trying to figure out if there was a reasonable route, I looked down and noticed my right crampon was broken. The bar that holds the 2 pieces had broken in half and the front section of the crampon was gone. So much for my plan to climb Jagged. I didn't want to climb that peak anyway.

Route over to Sunlight in red...descent route in yellow

Descent off of Windom

Sunlight's SE Ridge

Snowy summit block

Doing the Sunlight summit straddle in winter was very unrewarding. I did a big yawn and headed back towards camp.

On my way back towards Sunlight Lakes, the sun came out and Peak 18 looked not awesome at all. I really didn't want to climb it, but I did anyway. From this view, the route looked pretty straight forward.

The weather moved back in on my way up and the mountain took on a much more friendly appearance. This short climb was a joke. It was the easiest climbing of the day and not scary at all....especially the short corniced traverse across 60+ degree snow. Looking down from just below the summit.

I got back to camp around 2:15pm and ran into Smokey and the Legend. Still here huh? I was hoping they had packed up and gone home. No such luck.

On Sunday morning the 3 of us started out together. Fortunately it wasn't long before I headed west for Eolus and they headed east for Windom. Hate those guys. Here's a shot of their headlamps. They were probably making out.

Route up Eolus' southeast face

Sunrise to the east. Ho hum.

Sun hitting the east ridge...banshees getting ready to greet me. I went up to the left of the large rock and came down the right side.

North Eolus.

Black and white view to the east. Where would I rather be? Anywhere but here.

Next up...Mt. Eolus' NE Ridge

The climbing on the ridge was not fun at all and very confusing, but the wind made it much easier.

Close up. My Mom loves seeing these pictures. They are her favorite.

Levitating on the summit of Mt. Eolus

The descent off of Eolus took was so boring. I did not entertain myself by listening to Pit Bull and dancing my way back to camp.

I got back to camp at 10:45am and decided to pack up and head home. I didn't want to think about spending another night at camp with my two partners. Unfortunately they made it back to camp before I could dry out all my stuff and I was forced to hang out with them one more time.

We did have a few inches of snow since we arrived in camp, but not enough to completely cover the trail. I made quick work of the Needle Creek Trail and decided to try to find a snow bridge across the Animas. Worst case I would have to cross the Needleton Bridge and walk a few extra miles. I found a sturdy snow bridge about a half mile north of the Animas Trail intersection. I was not excited at all. I was really hoping for some more mileage with this huge pack and my plastic boots.

Stand by me, stand by me

Made it back to the station around 5pm...retrieved my stash of hot dogs and beer, built a small fire and had myself a little "glad this trip is over" party.

When the train pulled in the next day at 12pm, I knew it was finally over. My prayers were answered.

I hope no one reads this. I didn't enjoy writing it.

Sad Mike

One more thing...For those of you that don't know me very well or who aren't picking up what I'm throwing down...I was kidding about everything I wrote. This was an amazing experience and it was great being out there with Joe and Dwight. I just wish our plans lined up so we could have climbed together. Thanks to Jim and Jeff for making the hike up the Needle Creek Trail a little easier. It was never our plan to follow you up there and I really do prefer to walk on virgin snow, but it was fun running into you and hearing
the helicopter story.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

  • Comments or Questions

03/23/2014 22:14
ROTFLMAO! Love it!

Congrats on a horribly memorable trip. PTSD is sure to follow...Season ending debacle.

Thanks for posting and congrats! Strong work, as usual!


Worst TR Ever
03/24/2014 00:06
I hate this report.


Gone Mad
03/24/2014 00:16
You need help, my friend. Lots, and lots of help.

But I still hope to see you soon, Dani too (or is that two? no, maybe 3?).


damn dude
03/24/2014 00:25
Bliztkreig bop. Thats some solid work here!

Are you smoking a spliff in image 39?


This is not hilarious
03/24/2014 00:52
I did not laugh the entire time I was reading this. You need to work harder on your TRs.

BTW - Descent off of Windom - not very interesting.

Thanks for making this all up.


This TR and these pics sucked so much...
03/24/2014 00:59
I wish I could hit the ”dislike” button more than once!


What rijaca said!
03/24/2014 00:57
(What, is your computer all out of pink font?)

And that levitating thing, that's no big deal. Just south of us in Fairfield IA they do that all the time at the Maharishi University!


03/24/2014 01:11
your trip report wasn't as good as mine.

and why did you have to make your own tracks off Jupiter over to Windom? we couldn't have made it any easier for you.

if you are looking for virgin snow, try February. everyone and their grandma day trip to Chicago Basin in March. Almost as bad as Summit County on a Saturday.


Damn looks miserable
03/24/2014 03:52
Nice work though!


03/24/2014 14:14
Poor report at best...satisfactory effort though. I guess ”congrats” or ”whatever” is due....

Dad Mike

Dislike Me
08/12/2014 23:13
Love the dislikes. Keep em coming. You guys all suck!


trench poaching crime
04/02/2015 19:45
has not been addressed enough this winter. Glad you covered that Looks like an awesome...ahem...terrible trip. It's nuts you managed to get Peak 18 as well. Very disappointing!!


and the beer sucked
03/24/2014 15:53
The real reason Mike was in such a hurry to get back to Cascade, to drink the beer and eat the brats I had stashed in the river.

he is a lazy mountaineer, slowest hiker on the planet, all he wants to do is hang around the campfire lighting up.


Hey Mike...
03/24/2014 16:00
You forgot to ”dislike” your own TR, c'mon get with it...


03/24/2014 16:08
The only thing worse than the trip itself, was the terrible story, lack of humor and pedestrian photos. I wish I had the five minutes back that I spent reading such tripe. I am sure that I speak for everyone when I ask you not to ever put up another trip report.


03/24/2014 16:58
... was too kind. Please don't write any more TR's unless they are worse than this one.


Awful (awesome) report.
03/24/2014 17:46
Really, uh, unenjoyable experience. This rivals your Pigeon TR as worst and least funny ever. You should be ashamed of your effort, summits, prose, and time in the backcountry. Although I (sincerely) enjoyed your reflections on trench poaching.

Can we expect another Jagged winter attempt next season??



Enough Already!
03/24/2014 17:58
Dude, would you just get your solo winter ascent of Jagged over with already. I'm quite frankly sick and &%$^#@* tired of reading about your lazy unmotivated arse throwing in the towel every year! I guess at least this report didn't have any of that Reinhold Messner talking to yourself crap that some of your TRs have.

Mickeys Grenade

Truly Mad
03/24/2014 20:08
I just wish you would have told me where your beer was hidden at
I looked for it, but no luck.


What a joke of a TR...
03/25/2014 17:54
...quit wasting everyones time with reports on boring mountains in ugly corners of the state...


You really capture
03/25/2014 22:00
the essence of mountain climbing.... hate, crappy company, and terrible views. I can't wait until this semester is over so I can feel all those things again


As a sarcastic bastard myself....
03/26/2014 17:13
This was easily the worst trip report ever and I want my 2 minutes back.



Worst Trip Report Ever
04/03/2014 04:46
I did not read the whole thing twice. ”Sunrise to the East. Ho hum.” LMAO.

Mountain Ninja

04/07/2014 00:25
Mad Mike, you never cease to impress! Sometimes I imagine trying to keep up with your pace... and then I laugh at myself. Truly awesome effort, and highly entertaining write-up!


worst report all year!
04/08/2014 01:17
I'm writing this to say how bummed and disenchanted I am with the mountains I hate spending time in! For the duration of reading this monstrosity I remained frowning and couldn't muster even a sigh. Probably selling all my gear and moving back to Indiana now. Thanks, I really do prefer corn fields on every gloriously flat horizon than jagged peaks anyhow.

Relative to Zero

Well thats it.
04/24/2014 06:43
Well, after reading that, I quit. Im selling all my gear to buy a gaming rig and go back to being a gamer. Good bye boring climbs, terrible views, and asshole friends who never helped me out once. Hello excellent microwave pizza physique and endless stories of bases, killstreaks, imaginary gear (the lightest), and high scores that enthral the ladies, impress coworkers, and are the talk of family get togethers. Who needs cheasy postcard worthy pictures when you have screenshots that EGM might want to use on their website with your imaginary name right in the center of it for 4 days?!

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