| Silverton 4 Pack: Avoiding the Storms on Storm.
August 10, 2010
~ 10.5 Miles, ~5,500 Gain
Starting TH: South Animas Fork in Eureka Gulch
Ending TH: Tailing Ponds along Colorado 110.
The weather forecast predicted 20% chance of showers. That's sounds good but unfortunately that wasn't the case. John and I made the short drive to the South Animas Fork TH near Eureka Gulch from our campsite and started hiking up the trail by 5:20 AM. We had a little difficulty finding the trail at first but once we found the trail, it was easy going where we followed the trail until we were ~11,100 in the basin. During our hike in, it began to rain and it rained hard. So much for that 20% chance of rain. From ~11,100, we decided to climb south up through some pine trees and then traverse west through some willows to gain the upper basin northwest of the summit of Dome Mountain.
Sunrise in the rain.
Once in the upper basin, it was a scree gully climb to the Dome - Point 13,321 saddle. The climbing from the saddle to the summit was class 2 where we arrived on the summit of Dome at 8:00 AM. Great views all around and after a short break, we returned to the Dome - 13,321 saddle. Previous reports had mentioned that the ridge proper to Tower didn't go so we decided, as recommended from prior reports, to drop into Cataract Basin and skirt around 13,321 at ~12,600. Traveling was fast and this bypass worked out great. We regained the ridge to Tower at ~13,160 and continued west to the summit arriving at 9:20 AM.
Gully to gain the Dome saddle.
View from the saddle west of Dome.
Climbing up Dome's west ridge.
Summit views from Dome.
Tower from Cataract basin.
Summit ridge to Tower.
To our surprise, we were greeted on the summit of Tower by a Silverton local and after a short break, we were heading on our way to East Storm. We followed the ridge proper as it traversed north around Boulder Gulch. The travel to East Storm at first was easy and after bypassing a nasty tower to the south, we scrambled up some grassy class 3 ledges to the summit ridge. We arrived on the summit of East Storm at 10:20 AM. Looking to the west we could see more weather rolling in.
E Storm and Storm from our traverse from tower.
E Storm. Nasty spire can be bypassed easily to the left.
Class 3 grass ledges on E Storm.
Summit ridge to E Storm.
John working his way up the summit ridge of E Storm.
From the summit of East Storm, the west ridge off the peak looked impossible. For some reason both John and I thought the ridge was a mellow grass ridge to the saddle to Storm. The south ridge looked good for a descent so we continued onward. During our descent we ran into a few problems. The first problem was a narrow short lived exposed catwalk followed by an exposed grass traverse east around a tower. I didn't like the catwalk and John didn't like the grass traverse. Our second and more problematic problem was a short cliff in the south ridge at ~12,600. The ridge proper was exposed and the rock was damp so that wasn't a good option. John descended a nasty damp grassy class 4 gully to bypass the cliff. I followed shortly thereafter.
Storm from E Storm.
South ridge of E Storm.
John about to work his way down the class 4 section on E Storm.
Class 4 section on E Storm.
After the dicey class 4 down-climb, it was easy travel on grassy slopes into the basin. We headed west towards a lake and then traversed the left fork of Boulder Gulch at ~12,200. At this point, weather was starting to roll in and Storm Peak was getting engulfed in clouds. Since it was stratus in nature, we decided to climb upward and hopefully the clouds would move out. We could always bail from the climb later.
Stormed out on Storm.
Clouds burning off.
At the top of the basin, the clouds were starting to move out so we decided to climb a horrendous scree gully to the ridge. I'm not sure who enjoyed the gully more, John or I. After we eventually made the ridge, we enjoyed some fine solid class 3 scrambling to the summit where we arrived at 12:30 PM. The clouds moved out just in time. It took us over 2 hours to make the traverse between Storm and East Storm.
Summit ridge to Storm.
Climbing the summit ridge of Storm.
The nasty east ridge of Storm.
E storm and Tower from Storm.
Class 3 section on Storm.
Nasty west ridge of E Storm.
We descended our ascent gully which was much better on the way down and continued down the gulch where we intercepted the Boulder Gulch trail. At the bottom, we met my wife, the great car shuttle, near some mine tailings off of CO 110 at 2:30 PM.
Wild Flowers in Boulder Gulch.
I would recommend doing Storm and E Storm separately. Although only .5 miles apart, they do not combine well.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):