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Durango to Needleton

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Durango to Needleton

Postby Hungryclimber » Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:27 pm

Hi, I'm planing on climbing wisdom and eolus the first week of june and noticed that you have to take a train from durango to needleton. I wanted to know if there was any way around the $65 ticket? I don't mind a hike or back country navigation... Any suggestions would be helpful, thanks so much!
Climbing Rocks Doesn't Make You A Rock Star?

CG_old

Re: Durango to Needleton

Postby CG_old » Mon Mar 26, 2007 1:36 pm

Hungryclimber wrote:Hi, I'm planing on climbing wisdom and eolus the first week of june and noticed that you have to take a train from durango to needleton. I wanted to know if there was any way around the $65 ticket? I don't mind a hike or back country navigation... Any suggestions would be helpful, thanks so much!


You don't *have* to take the train. thebeave7 and I are planning to do them as a day trip from the highway in mid-July. It's just easier/shorter to take the train so many people do...

Edit: A quick glance at Topo looks like riding the train in will save you about 20 miles Roundrip vs starting at the Purgatory Campground on Hwy 550.
Last edited by CG_old on Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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more info

Postby Hungryclimber » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:12 pm

could you please give me a little more info on a good spot to go in, I live in Wisconsin and I don't know my way around - at least on the road...

Thanks
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Re: Durango to Needleton

Postby cftbq » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:16 pm

Hungryclimber wrote:Hi, I'm planing on climbing wisdom and eolus the first week of june and noticed that you have to take a train from durango to needleton. I wanted to know if there was any way around the $65 ticket? I don't mind a hike or back country navigation... Any suggestions would be helpful, thanks so much!


Well, I think you mean Windom, but aside from that...
Yes. As suggested, you can hike in from the Purgatory TH on Hwy. 550. To do the two peaks you named from there, it's a total of about 35 miles RT, with eight or nine thousand feet elevation gain (depending on your exact route.) Most of the people who decide to do this route take more than one day, but occasionally, speedy people do it as a (night and) day trip.
You can also pack in from the other side of the Divide. You can start, for instance, at Vallecito Reservoir and get into Chicago Basin by coming over Columbine Pass. I don't know what the exact mileage would be, but this, too, is a long route, and most of the people who do it take multiple days.
If you're up for a good hike, why not? You not only save the train fare, you are not tied to the train's (very limited) schedule.
I have been to the mountaintop, and I have seen the force
and the power that animates the universe. That may not
match up with your anthropomorphic or teleological idea of
what "god" is, but it's good enough for me.

CG_old

Re: more info

Postby CG_old » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:17 pm

Hungryclimber wrote:could you please give me a little more info on a good spot to go in, I live in Wisconsin and I don't know my way around - at least on the road...

Thanks


I've never done this climb or approach, so others here probably have much better info than I do.

In glancing at the map though, it looks like the only practical way in to the Eolus group besides the train is to start at the Purgatory Campground on Hwy 550 and follow the trail that parallels first Purgatory Creek and then the Animas River. The two routes (Needleton and the long way) join up at Needle Creek and follow that to Chicago Basin.

Needleton to Chicago Basin: 4-ish miles one way
Purgatory GC to Chicago Basin: 14-ish miles one way

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Postby MtHurd » Mon Mar 26, 2007 2:34 pm

I've done it. The trail is easy but 11 miles one way to Needleton. It starts on Highway 550 very close to Durango Mountain Ski Resort. Gerry Roach should have this route in his book. It descends about 2000 ft. to the Vallecito River if I remember correctly, then follows the river uphill (very easy incline) to Needleton. I was able to pack out from the Twin Lakes below Eolus all the way out with full packs in one day. We camped near Needleton on the way in. If you really wanted to do this in 3 days you could, a day in to Chicago Basin, a day to climb all 3 peaks, a day out.

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Re: more info

Postby Jon Frohlich » Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:18 pm

Chris Gerber wrote:Needleton to Chicago Basin: 4-ish miles one way
Purgatory GC to Chicago Basin: 14-ish miles one way


Figure on more like 6 miles from Needleton to Chicago Basin depending on how high you camp. We had a very high campsite which required more hiking time. The backpack in from Needleton should take anywhere from 3.5-4 hours at average pace.

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Durango to Needleton

Postby Matt Mahoney » Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:28 pm

You can do Eolus, Sunlight and Windom from 550 in a long day if you're lucky with the weather. I did it in 22 hours car to car in 2003, but failed in my next 2 attempts to repeat due to bad conditions. It is about 36 miles with 10,000 ft of climb. Here is my trip report.
http://www.mattmahoney.net/sunlight/

It's been done in 13 1/2 hours, BTW.
-- Matt Mahoney

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Postby Yolanda the Yak » Mon Mar 26, 2007 3:41 pm

You can also do the group from lime mesa. Significantly shorter, mileage wise, than from Purgatory; however, route finding and trail quality lead to a more difficult adventure. The route from lime mesa joins the needle creek trail near the 9200' contour. Looking at a map, you'll see a trail switchbacking south passing emerald and ruby lakes before reaching the mesa and eventually passing dollar lake. Not long beyond dollar lake, the trail becomes an 4x4 trail.
Phil: "So what if 2 out of 3 of my trips turned into SAR calls, who hasn't had a few SAR callouts?"

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Postby Flatland Biker » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:32 pm

I think you can get a special pass just to Needleton and not pay the $65. I don't know, it has been a couple years since I was on the train. Maybe $65 is the discounted rate! Anyhoo, enjoy God's Country. I heard the San Juan Mtn's is where God goes when he takes a vacation!
"Heaven is only a heartbeat away"

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Re: Durango to Needleton

Postby cftbq » Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:37 pm

Matt Mahoney wrote:It's been done in 13 1/2 hours, BTW.


Matt, you never told me this! Who did it? When? How!? What does he eat/drink/smoke/meditate on?? I want some!
I have been to the mountaintop, and I have seen the force
and the power that animates the universe. That may not
match up with your anthropomorphic or teleological idea of
what "god" is, but it's good enough for me.

CG_old

Re: Durango to Needleton

Postby CG_old » Mon Mar 26, 2007 5:29 pm

Matt Mahoney wrote:You can do Eolus, Sunlight and Windom from 550 in a long day if you're lucky with the weather. I did it in 22 hours car to car in 2003, but failed in my next 2 attempts to repeat due to bad conditions. It is about 36 miles with 10,000 ft of climb. Here is my trip report.
http://www.mattmahoney.net/sunlight/

It's been done in 13 1/2 hours, BTW.


Thanks for the excellent TR Matt...that was very helpful for our planning purposes.

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