| Mt Eolus (NE ridge plus Glacier Pond)
This was my third attempt on Mt Eolus, and the second in the last 6 weeks. This time I had perfect weather and I also spent a full 24 hours acclimatising in Durango, so in the end I reached the summit without too much difficulty.
For more photos of this route, plus some of the Columbine Pass / Vallecito Trail approach please visit
I followed the standard route of taking the train to Needleton then hiking into Chicago Basin. To avoid lugging a heavy pack any further than necessary I chose a fairly low camp at 10800 ft. This was the view from my tent :
I had been planning to climb Eolus' south ridge, but when I actually saw it I changed my mind! It's a lot more impressive in real life :
On summit day I got up at 4am and started hiking just before 5am. The moon was so bright I didn't need my headlamp until I reached the Twin Lakes / Columbine Pass trail junction. I made good time up past Twin Lakes, and took this shot from about 12700 ft. Sunlight and Windom I believe :
The trail winds its way upwards, and is a bit of a slog but the scenery and mountain goats are welcome distractions.
After traversing up to and over the big slabs the real fun begins - the catwalk and the NE ridge :
Standing on the edge of the catwalk. With no wind and dry rock there's nothing to worry about!
This shows the blocks that make up the NE ridge. The east (sunny) side had the biggest blocks, and so if the exposure became too much I switched over to the dark (west) side, where the blocks are smaller and hand & foot holds easier to come by.
Posing on the summit of Mt Eolus! I reached the top at 8:15 am, and had the place to myself until 9 o'clock.
After descending the ledges and ramps of the east face, then crossing the catwalk I wandered over to the small lake near Glacier Point. I haven't seen an official name for it, but given its size and proximity to Glacier Point, "Glacier Pond" seems reasonable. Shown here in the centre of the picture :
From Glacier Pond I headed due east straight down to Twin Lakes. Roach describes this as a Class 3 snow climb, but without snow it was just a nightmare of crumbling rock and ball-bearing gravel. The steep gully did take me to a nice spot on Twin Lakes though.
After dipping my feet in the cold water I headed back down to camp. This shot along the way is of the ridge from Windom to Jupiter, I think?
The next day I hiked out at a very leisurely pace, and crossed the River Animas several hours before the train was due.
Whilst standing on the bridge I recalled all of the posts on 14ers.com about the old / new bridge polava. The bridge looked about the same as it did in 2007, but according to this plate it really is a new bridge.
One of the reasons why the D&S train is so dreadfully slow :
Mustn't grumble too much I suppose, if they spent money on replacing the tracks they would have to charge more for a cold beer!
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):