| Gaining Prominence on E & W Spanish
November 5, 2010
Trailheads: Top of Cordova Pass and Wahatoya TH (4WD)
Total Mileage: ~16.7 Miles, Total Gain: ~6,500
Hiking toward West Spanish during sunrise.
The alarm went off earlier than I would have liked at 3:00 AM and shortly thereafter, I was driving to Colorado Spring to meet up with my climbing partner Al. After I met up with Al at 4:30 AM, we made the drive to La Veta where we followed Colorado 12 to the top of Cucharas Pass. From the top of Cucharas Pass, we made a left turn and followed a Forest Service road for 6 miles to the top of Cordova Pass.
We geared up and we were hiking up the excellent West Peak trail by 7:30 AM. From all of the other 13eners I have been climbing lately, it was a nice change to have a great trail. Eventually, we broke out of the trees and started our way up West Spanish Peak's southeast ridge. Again, the trail was quite a delight as we worked our way toward to the top. Al had read a trip report of someone complaining about some loose obnoxious talus on this route. That wasn't the case and that chap needs to go climb some San Juan 13eners and report back.
Getting closer to West Spanish
In the shadow of West Spnaish
The southeast ridge of West Spanish.
Al working his way up West Spanish.
The last bit to the summit of West Spnaish.
With perfect weather and little wind, we topped out on West Spanish Peak at 9:40 AM. Wow. Some of the best views in the state. We followed the well traveled trail back to the car arriving at 11:20 AM, took a short break, and continued directly south to the top of 11,594. The views weren't as good and we returned back to the car at 12:00 PM.
Al making his way toward the summit of West Spanish.
East Spanish from West Spanish.
360 view on West Spanish.
Now for the most complicated part of the day. Finding the Wahatoya trailhead. I had some "good" directions and if street signs existed, the directions would have been good. Here are some updated directions to the Wahatoya Trailhead. If you have a decent map La Veta, navigation isn't a problem. We did not have a good map of La Veta and Delorme conveniently puts La Veta right at a page change.
Take Colorado 12 south through La Veta. When you are on the very south end of town and about to leave town, Colorado 12 bends right (3 orange right turn arrows). Take a left turn (east) on Cuchara Street (UNMARKED) which is just past the closed Blue Rooster Bar and Grill, a wood building. Follow Cuchara Street for .2 miles where it will bend right (south). After the bend, follow this road for .9 miles and make a left turn (east) where there is a sign for Huajatolla Valley. Take this road for .4 miles (if you continue straight, there is a Dead End sign) and then make a right turn (south). Follow this road for 5 miles and look for a 4WD road on the right. There is a small wood sign marked Wahatoya Trail at the beginning of the 4WD road. Follow the easy, narrow 4WD road to the start of the Wahatoya Trail.
That might save you 30 minutes or more of driving in La Veta. I now know the back roads well on the east side of La Veta.
After 30-40 minutes of frustration, we finally found our way and made it to the Wahatoya trailhead (~9,800) at 1:20 PM. Shortly thereafter, we were hiking our way up the Wahatoya trail at 1:30 PM and after about 2 miles up trail, we reached the saddle, marked by a wooden post and a cairn, between East Spanish and West Spanish. From the saddle, we took a left onto a climbers trail and followed the trail up the west ridge of East Spanish.
First good view of East Spanish on the Wahatoya trail.
Although the trail wasn't as traveled as West Spanish's, it was fairly easy to follow and between ~10,400-11,000 the trail steepened dramatically. The trail pretty much ended at treeline, and from there was a stable talus hike to the summit. Unfortunately, the last .3 miles were very deceiving and we arrived on the summit at 4:30 PM with perfect weather. I think East Spanish had better views from the summit than West Spanish.
West Spanish at ~10,400 on East Spanish.
Out of treeline on East Spanish. West Spanish in the background.
Al working his way up the talus on East Spanish.
Last bit up East Spanish.
It is only .3 miles.
Al making the final steps up East Spanish.
Al making the final steps up East Spanish.
360 degree view on East Spanish.
Since daylight was limited, our break was short and we returned on the route we ascended. Once we hit the trail, we hustled back to the car arriving just before dark at 6:30 PM. This was perhaps one of the best November ascents I have had with no snow, very little wind and crystal clear skies. I dropped Al off in the Springs and arrived home at 10:15 PM and passed out.
Sunset over Blanca.
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