| Jihad on Sunlight & Windom - Needleton-Chicago Basin
Date: Thursday, July 27, 2006
Team: Wyo_MtnMan, CODave, TalusMonkey, Roozers42 + Scott
TH: Needleton to Chicago Basin to Twin Lakes
This trip had been in the planning for approximately two months. Aeolus would be Wyo_MtnMan's final ranked 14er and his "finisher." The rest of us were excited to be bagging the remote Windom group. We were all looking forward to a four night backpack to Chicago Basin and comraderie among hiking/climbing friends.
Wyo_MtnMan drove down from Laramie to my place in Lakewood on Tuesday evening to reduce our drive on Wednesday. We left Lakewood at 0600 on Wednesday morning. We met up with CODave in Johnson Village at 0800 and met up with Roozers42 and her husband Scott in Silverton at 1330. We all boarded the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad at 1445 and arrived at the Needleton whistle stop at about 1545.
Our gang at the Needleton whistle stop in front of the engine:
We quickly rucked up and headed up the trail. My pack weighed 29 lbs (3.5lbs of alcohol). CODave's weighed 45lbs (several pounds of alcohol). Wyo's weighed 54lbs (several pounds of alcohol). We eventually strung out on the trail and I stopped to regroup at a waterfall after about 2.5 miles. As we continued toward Chicago Basin we again strung out, but this time our separation became greater. I arrived in the central Chicago Basin at 1835. I waited until 1905 for Wyo_MtnMan to catch up. Then CODave arrived at 1920. We waited another 15 minutes for Roozers42 and Scott, but they were nowhere to be seen. I tried to contact them on the radio but received no response (found out later that they had left their radio in their vehicle in Silverton).
Because it was getting late and we needed to find a campsite, we left a message with some campers to tell Roozers and Scott that we had headed up the basin to locate a suitable campsite. We found a "stealth" campsite south of Needle Creek in the woods. Although we watched for Roozers and Scott, we somehow missed them and they ended up camping a little higher in the basin (we had no way to know this until the next morning).
Wyo_MtnMan, CODave and TalusMonkey in Chicago Basin with Windom in background:
We woke at 0430 and got on trail about 0455 on Thursday morning. We followed the easy trail up to Twin Lakes at 12,500. At Twin Lakes the trail splits and heads to Windom/Sunlight or Aeolus. The trail is easy to follow up to the shelf above the lakes and there are cairns to follow across the cirque to the Red Couloir. The Red Couloir is a little loose, but I have seen a lot worse. We found the scramble to Sunlight to be easy class 3. We arrived on the summit at about 0800. Although the summit block itself was indeed small, as advertised, we did not have difficulty reaching it. However, the back side is definitely exposed!
TalusMonkey, Wyo_MtnMan and CODave on Sunlight summit block:
Everything seemed to be going well, until the Captain showed up. "Everyone's got a little Captain in 'em"....
Wyo_MtnMan on the summit block with the Captain:
After the Captain left, we quickly descended Sunlight to the cirque below. There we ran into Roozers42 and Scott. We were quite glad to see them and find out that they had camped above our campsite. Roozers and Scott continued up toward Sunlight. Wyo_MtnMan, CODave and I crossed the cirque and climbed up to Windom's ridge. Total elevation loss was about 800 feet. The climb up to Windom's summit was class 2 with perhaps a class 3 move or two along the way. There are cairns along most of the route, but it is easy to just follow the ridge.
We arrived on the summit at 1007. Somehow, we forgot to take a group shot on Windom. However, we took individual photos and headed down as the sky darkened and rain was falling a couple miles south. As we descended we passed three separate parties of two still ascending. We stopped briefly at Twin Lakes, but soon resumed our descent toward camp in the Basin. We returned to camp about 1200.
Later that afternoon, Roozers42 and Scott came by our campsite to visit - and they brought a cheesecake that they had made at their campsite! We welcomed them and gladly shared some cheesecake. Thanks Jen and Scott!
Wyo_MtnMan's girlfriend, Tanya, and his mother, Mrs. Kelly, and their friend Richard took the Thursday train from Silverton to Needleton. At approximately 1900 we established radio contact with them as they entered Chicago Basin. We hiked down the trail to meet them and lead them to our campsite.
The next morning, we again woke at 0430 to attack Aeolus and North Aeolus...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):