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Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Trailhead conditions, directions, roads, parking, camping, etc. Trailhead Info/Status
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Mtnbird » Sun Aug 21, 2011 7:47 pm

Dancesatmoonrise wrote:
bking14ers wrote:5. I planned ahead for a critter raid, and had no problems at all with them.


Excellent point. Forgot to mention we left all the stuff we didn't take on the peaks, up in the trees.


What do you mean by critter raid? My husband and I are heading to Chicago Basin for a week soon. We always bring a bear canister each for our food (great not only for preventing bears from getting into food, but also for marmots and mice). We also hang whatever leftover food and toiletry items don't initially fit in the canisters on longer trips. Are you saying that you had to take down camp and hang all the gear you weren't hiking the peaks with? Tent... sleeping bag... everything?

I have heard about the goats. Do they cause problems with gear?

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby djkest » Thu Aug 25, 2011 10:55 am

I'm back and now I have some tips!

1) start early! The climbs will take longer than you think and it seems to rain a lot starting around 11 am or noon in the basin.
2) pack light! The climb into the basin is long and you may have to race others for a premium spot. On the way down you will also appreciate a lighter load
3) get serious! All of these climbs demand your respect and attention. For me Eolus > Sunlight (block aside) > Windom > N Eolus.
4) The quad-summit is only for iron men! It's a long day with lots of effort. You'd have to start early and have tremendous endurance to tackle all 4 summits in one day. Eolus, Windom, and Sunlight took a little extra time for route finding.
5) watch out! The turn-off for Eolus is very poorly defined and easy to miss. We found the best pathway crossed over between the 2 lakes, but the trail was very feint/non-existant. Route finding on the ascent on all peaks is challenging, especially with multiple cairns.

Must have:
Helmet (I would highly recommend a helmet, especially for Eolus. It's no joke!)
Headlamp (get started before sunrise every morning)
Water filter (or chemicals, if you prefer)
Backup 2L platypus - because just having a water bladder with a hose is lame.
Paracord or similar to hang your foodstuffs

Would be nice:
A lightweight tarp system to provide "out of tent" shelter for cooking, packing, and bumming around.
A good book to keep you occupied during afternoon rainshowers
Life is a mountain, not a beach.
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Yikes » Thu Aug 25, 2011 9:05 pm

Mtnbird wrote:
Dancesatmoonrise wrote:
bking14ers wrote:5. I planned ahead for a critter raid, and had no problems at all with them.


Excellent point. Forgot to mention we left all the stuff we didn't take on the peaks, up in the trees.


What do you mean by critter raid? My husband and I are heading to Chicago Basin for a week soon. We always bring a bear canister each for our food (great not only for preventing bears from getting into food, but also for marmots and mice). We also hang whatever leftover food and toiletry items don't initially fit in the canisters on longer trips. Are you saying that you had to take down camp and hang all the gear you weren't hiking the peaks with? Tent... sleeping bag... everything?

I have heard about the goats. Do they cause problems with gear?


I was there last week. Hung food and toiletries from a tree during the day hikes and at night. Goats were in our campsite, but they didn't mess with our tents.

Another tip - we choose to hike down towards the train the night before just to make sure we didn't have to race down with heavy packs. There is an excellent camping site immediately downstream from the New York Cr bridge - much flatter than our spot up in the basin and was able to get some better sleep. We did get to the train stop several hours early and had to lay around (which was ok).

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby bking14ers » Fri Aug 26, 2011 3:26 pm

About the critter raid. Someone made a post about a marmot chewing holes in and out of there buddy's tent, then peeing all over his sleeping bag while it was inside. Probably to get at the salt off his sweaty clothing. My understanding is he hung his food, so the clothing was the only thing in there. I got a tip from a climber to use Coyote granules around my tent. I did and had no problems with anything. I also left the bottle of granules in the tent with the lid off. (Do this at your own risk) I hung my food, trash, and anything with a scent. Put all my dirty clothing, and sleeping bag in garbage bags, and left them in the tent. I did not see any marmots in the camping area at all, lots of goats, and a few chipmunks. I camped about 100 yds west of the Twin Lakes trail head sign on the steam side of the Needle Creek trail. I guess it's up to the critter if it wants to mess with you or not, so don't give him any reason too.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby WillV » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:39 pm

I am considering the Chicago Basin over Labor Day weekend. If I were to take the train in on Friday from Silverton (assuming a seat is still available), would I be pretty much out of luck in finding a decent campsite Friday evening? Does anyone know if the basin is pretty crowded on the weekends?

Thanks in advance.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby dehrlich101 » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:47 pm

WillV wrote:I am considering the Chicago Basin over Labor Day weekend. If I were to take the train in on Friday from Silverton (assuming a seat is still available), would I be pretty much out of luck in finding a decent campsite Friday evening? Does anyone know if the basin is pretty crowded on the weekends?

Thanks in advance.


You won't get a prime spot..unless you're really lucky. There is plenty of spots to camp, you maybe shacking up close to some other campers though. Try towards the end of the basin before the no camping sign.
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Mtnbird » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:06 am

Thanks for the tips regarding the critters. I did a little more research on the goats, rabbits and marmots. It sounds like some people have been fine with just hanging items that are sweat soaked (and all food and toiletries of course) and leaving their sleeping bags, sleeping pads, clothes etc. in their tent. Others have had critters chew holes through their tent and ruin the few items left inside despite taking these same precautions. I suppose hanging the entire camp would be the best, but we are going to be camping up there for 7 nights and it would be a pain to have to do that every morning on such a long trip. It sounds like some have luck with camping lower in the basin where there aren't as many troublesome critters. I would rather add a little hiking time to each route than have to hang my entire camp every morning before leaving for the peaks. Any comments on the camping options/animal situation a little lower down in the basin? We are arriving on Labor Day weekend. Are sites lower down in short supply?

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby sunny1 » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:11 am

I would expect the Chicago Basin to be a popular destination over Labor Day weekend, sites will be in short supply.
We camped around 10,900 ft at the end of June. Saw goats, marmots, mice, but didn't have any trouble with any damage.
No critter damage to the tent, leaving only sleeping bag and pad in the tent during the day.
We hung everything else, including larger packs, clothes, food, etc.
It's an awesome place! Enjoy!
The older you get, the better you get, unless you're a banana.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby GeoRon » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:20 pm

Five tips.......
1) Take a poncho.
2) Take a tarp.
3) Take a tarp.
4) Take a tarp.
5) Camp in the trees so that you can string up the tarp.

I've been into CB only twice. The weather seemed to be very predictable. Rain in the afternoon. All afternoon. Bummer enough,,, the thunderstorms continue well into the evening unlike most other places.

Maybe I'm just plagued by bad luck in CB but the statistics are valid, seven nights, seven nights of rain. Worse yet, two morning hikeouts in the rain.

If I must go back, and I must because my significant other must return, I will pitch my tent under the 8x12 silicon tarp I bought after my last trip in. And, I will tuck this arrangement within the biggest tree-drip-line that I can find. Of course, doing this will mean no rain. I can live with that.

The positive side of all that rain is that CB is likely the most lush alpine basin I've been in in Colorado.
Last edited by GeoRon on Tue Oct 04, 2011 6:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Sugar Madison » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:35 pm

nyker wrote:
Or it is even possible for non-triathletes to bag all four in one day or is this way too optimistic?


Completely reasonable for non-triathletes...there is no swimming or cycling required for any of the four. :wink:

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby crossfitter » Tue Oct 04, 2011 4:57 pm

All 4 in a day really isn't all that hard. North Eolus from the saddle is child's play. The descent back to the lakes is easy and there is an excellent CFI Trail a ways towards Sunlight. You don't even have to drop that much elevation after Sunlight to get Windom, but you can save yourself a couple hundred vert if you are feeling adventurous and take the northwest face of Windom.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby GeoRon » Tue Oct 04, 2011 5:42 pm

For planning purposes, all four in a day is unlikely for all but one percent of the people visiting this web site. Well, maybe, 10 percent (I have no real basis for my estimate but I think one percent is more likely).

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