| The Spire!!!
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At the beginning of summer TJ, Kyle, Doug and I came up with the idea of spending some time in the Chicago Basin. However, in addition to the three standard peaks, we wanted to try and climb Sunlight Spire. We like to end our summers with memorable trips and figured if we succeeded this one would go down as one of the better end of summer excursions.
Due to the four of us being poor college kids it was decided we would hike in from Purgatory instead of taking the train. After picking Kyle up in Gunnison we drove to Purgatory and spent the night on the ground of the parking lot.
The next day was our approach day. In the cascade creek valley we hit an unmarked fork in the trail and went left. This took us to the creek where we crossed and wandered around for about an hour before realizing the right fork was the correct path. If you're hiking in from Purgatory, take the right fork!
Doug on the right path
When we reached the Animas River it immediately became apparent a swimming break was necessary. We stopped at the bridge for about an hour and did nothing productive but had a great time!
The rest of the hike in was beautiful but painfully long made worse by the trains passing, reminding us that we could be riding instead of walking. We reached the basin at around seven and set up camp on a rock slab immediately below the "No camping at Twin Lakes" sign. By the way, the goat's love of urine is as bad as everyone on this site has said, they couldn't get enough!
The next day we woke with hopes of climbing Sunlight Spire, Sunlight and Windom in that order. We hauled our gear up the basin and upon reaching twin lakes got our first glimpse of the Spire. It was quite the sight, causing a large amount of excitement and a little anxiety to run through the group.
When we reached the saddle between the Spire and Sunlight, the rock was still very cold so we opted to tag Sunlight first.
Me on the summit
Doug on the summit
When we got back to the saddle the rock had warmed to the point we felt comfortable attempting the climb so we began the traverse to the bottom of the spire. I would be climbing with Kyle and Doug and TJ would be climbing together. After sorting out the rack it was finally time! Kyle chalked up and got on the climb. Placing pieces every several feet he slowly jammed his way up the crack. After several tense minutes he pulled himself onto the summit block and let loose a victory yell which was returned by the people on the summits of Windom and Sunlight! If you were one of those people, thank you, you made us feel much cooler than we actually are! Congrats on an amazing lead Kyle. I followed and soon joined Kyle on the summit.
TJ Getting stoked
TJ was next and narrowly avoided a serious accident that may have ended the trip. While climbing he fell and his last piece caught at the same time his ass smacked into the ramp that follows the crack for half its length. After hanging for several minutes he finished the climb with no major injuries and joined us on the summit. We were all incredibly thankful he escaped injury. Doug joined us and we took a moment to enjoy what may be the most elusive summit of a 14,000 foot point in the state.
Kyles battle wounds
Me up top
We couldn't find an in depth report or rack description from anyone who had previously climbed it so here's approximately what we used in case anyone wants to know what to bring
-1 #1 C4
-2 or 3 #2 C4's
-1 #3 C4 for the anchor
-1 .75 C4
-1 grey Super Cam
TJ placed a #8 nut as well. Although we used lots of cams, the crack looked like it would take quite a few medium to large nuts as well. New webbing would be a good idea as well as the existing webbing had a decent amount of UV damage.
After rapping off we tagged Windom and took a celebratory dip in twin lakes, savoring what had been an amazing day.
The next day we hiked Eolus and North Eolus. The views off the top were quite enjoyable and we took advantage of the amazing weather by spending quite a while on their summits.
Doug on the Eolus ridge
We returned to camp by early afternoon and hiked down needle creek to shorten the hike on the last day. About a half mile downstream of the Needle Creek Animas River confluence we ran into a group of raft guides breaking down their summer camp. We stopped and talked for a while about our trip and their plans to do Pigeon Peak the next day. Four Corners Rafting is the outfit you should book your trip through if you want to raft the Animas! Great people!
TJ at "Kamp Komfort"
After setting up our camp we indulged in a raging camp fire in an established fire ring.
The fire ban in Chicago Basin left us wanting at least one fire before the trip was over. The hike out the next day was bittersweet, as happiness of what we had accomplished mixed with regrets of leaving such a wonderful place.
Hope you enjoyed the read and shoot me a P.M. or leave a comment if you have any questions about the route or you get out to do it!
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