Rio Grande Pyramid
This was a memorial climb to honor a friend that passed earlier this year. Seven of us from around the front range met in Colorado Springs Friday morning at 8:00 AM and drove 5.5 hours to the Thirtymile Campground at Rio Grande Reservoir. We parked in a grass lot near the west end of the campground (east end of reservoir) just below the "2C" in the topo image below. The parking lot is boardered by willows on the west and north. The trailhead is located just south of the parking area. Do not walk west towards the reservoir looking for the trailhead.
The trailhead register is located where the Squaw Creek Trail and Weminuche Trail diverge. Follow the Weminuche Trail west as it follows the southern edge of the reservoir and gradually gains altitude. At about 9,600 feet the trail reaches the Weminuche Creek and turns south. The trail crosses the creek on a good bridge and steadily climbs to Weminuche Pass (10,630).
View south towards Weminuche Pass
You will know that you have reached the pass when you cross a small creek and see two wooden sticks stuck in the ground. This is the continental divide. There are good camping sites in the trees on the east side of the trail.
Looking north from Weminuche Pass. Skyline Trail to RGP starts on left, camping on right.
Weminuche Pass camping spot in trees
By 7-7:30 Saturday morning we were heading west on the Skyline Trail, which starts from the pass and climbs west just south of the continental divide. Views of Pt 12,497 and Pt 12,724 to the south across Rincon La Vaca help get the blood flowing.
Pt 12,497 (left) and Pt 12,724 (right)
Rio Grande Pyramid and The Window reveal themselves around treeline and the view is spectacular. It's easy to see how each got their name.
The Window and Rio Grande Pyramid (13,821)
Rio Grande Pyramid (13,821)
The trail contours around the north edge of the valley below Pt 12,006 and Pt 13,278. The trail is surprisingly flat from this point all the way to the end of the valley below RGP. A switchback back to the right and a steep climb lands you on the saddle between RGP and Pt 13,278. It's all uphill and steep from here. The trail climbs steeply on a well worn dirt path south of Pt 13,185. We then ascended RGP's east ridge to the summit. The splendor to the west that awaits you is well worth the effort. The summit offers incredible views of the Grenadiers and is arguably one of the best in the state.
RGP east ridge ascent
RGP east ridge ascent
Group summit photo
Windom, Sunlight, Eulos (Chicago Basin)
The Window from RGP east ridge ascent
Simpson Mtn (back left), Pt 13,261 (front left), Pt 12,905 (back right), and Pt 13,278 (front right)
After about an hour on the summit we set off for The Window. We descended back down the east ridge to ~13,600, traversed around to RGP's southern face, and descended the eastern of two scree filled colours. This was a direct and efficient descent of RGP in the direction of The Window. However, it is steep and filled with very loose scree. Be sure to stay away from the center as it moves in large masses easily. We stayed to the left were the footing was more secure and safer.
RGP south colour descent
RGP from traverse to The Window. Descent route was colour on right.
Once at the bottom I took my boots off to empty out all the small rocks that found their way in during the descent. I would not recommend this route unless you have good boots that go above the ankles. It's a long hike back to the car from here if you have bruised ankles. Looking back up at RGP it appears that the colour on the left (west) side might be an easier descent.
Traverse to The Window
The hike over to The Window took about 30-40 minutes. Its is a nice traverse that requires very little elevation gain or loss. Simply countour below the ridge on the east side and stay on the grassy slopes. The view from The Window is about the same as RGP's summit but here is something special about standing in this geological formation. It's worth the trek over and really does not add much distance to the trip.
South wall of The Window
There is a defined trail that drops SE from The Window towards a lake just below. At ~12,600 and above the lake the trail became less obvious. I decided to head back north through the basin and sparse willows and eventually found the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. This trail is well established and follows the Rincon La Vaca all the way down to the valley floor south of the Weminuche Pass. The trail seemed to go in forever but maybe I was just exhausted. Once back down at the valley take a left and head back north a mile or two to Weminuche Pass.
View east at Rincon La Vaca to valley
Our group spent the night at Weminuche pass and hiked out on Sunday. However, I had not had enough punishment so I packed out solo Saturday afternoon and drove north to the Silver Creek / Grizzly Gulch Trailhead to climb Redcloud and Sunshine on Sunday.
3 days in San Juans, 3 peaks, ~30 miles, ~9,200 vertical feet…PRICELESS!!