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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 MountainMedic » Tue Jul 23, 2013 9:56 pm

Eolus is the most underrated 14er I've done. It's loose and exposed, and I think way harder than it gets credit for. I'm surprised (but glad) there aren't more accidents on it. Go into it focused.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby shearmodulus » Wed Jul 24, 2013 8:02 am

I tried to ski in from Purgatory Flats trailhead in January of last year. Simply amazing. I didn't make it all the way, but the solitude was just surreal.

The snow was terrible so I only made it 10 miles (just beyond the Needleton stop and the cabins there in the vicinity). And the day after I came out? Dumped 18 inches. Timing is everything. [-o<
"Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads...."

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby scootmanjones » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:46 am

This is probably a broader question for any hike in/out trail, but it certainly applies to Chicago Basin. What is the preferred pack configuration? One large pack in total? Or one large pack for the hike in/out, plus one day pack for the summits?

Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Somewhat of a Prick » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:48 am

scootmanjones wrote:This is probably a broader question for any hike in/out trail, but it certainly applies to Chicago Basin. What is the preferred pack configuration? One large pack in total? Or one large pack for the hike in/out, plus one day pack for the summits?


My group all hiked in with large packs and just clipped an empty camelbak to it for assaulting the summits.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby kansas » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:52 am

scootmanjones wrote:This is probably a broader question for any hike in/out trail, but it certainly applies to Chicago Basin. What is the preferred pack configuration? One large pack in total? Or one large pack for the hike in/out, plus one day pack for the summits?


For me, light and fast is the way to do it. IMO if your pack is larger than 35L and weighs more than 30lbs, you're bringing too much s**t.

The first time I did Chicago Basin I took my 85L pack and it weighed something like 47lbs, I went back a couple weeks ago and brought a 24L pack that weighed 26lbs. Needless to say, I was much happier the second time.

If you are bringing the big pack, I would recommend picking up an REI flash pack for your summit pack. It weighs nothing and makes a handy stuff sack. But seriously consider just scaling down what you think you need.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Tornadoman » Wed Jul 24, 2013 9:53 am

kansas wrote:If you are bringing the big pack, I would recommend picking up an REI flash pack for your summit pack. It weighs nothing and makes a handy stuff sack. But seriously consider just scaling down what you think you need.


True words. Keeping the summit pack light is the way to go!

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby nkan02 » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:05 am

Taking a train from Durango makes sense to me only if you plan to hike an extra peak on the "pack out" day. Let's say your itinerary looks like this:

Day 1. Take a train and pack in
Day 2. Windom-Sunlight
Day 3. Eulos - N. Eulos
Day 4. Jupiter and hike out

Jupiter is very doable on the last day and the train back to Durango doesn't leave until 3.30-4pm(?)

In all other scenarios I recommend taking the train from Silverton. It is a shorter ride, cheaper and you save a day of traveling. I did the hike out, caught the 11.15m train, got lunch, left Silverton by 2pm and was at home in Denver around 9pm.

P.S. Agree on keeping the weight low and on bringing the summit pack. For 4 days 30lb weight what kansas gave sounds about right. For a simple overnight, my pack weights 25lb (w/o water). I use ultralight Osprey Hornet as my summit pack - it has the volume but weights almost nothing.
Last edited by nkan02 on Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:18 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby Phill the Thrill » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:07 am

scootmanjones wrote:This is probably a broader question for any hike in/out trail, but it certainly applies to Chicago Basin. What is the preferred pack configuration? One large pack in total? Or one large pack for the hike in/out, plus one day pack for the summits?


I don't disagree with the "keep it light" advice given above, but it all depends on what you have planned. If you're going to spend 4-5 days in the wilderness and snow is present, you're likely going to need to pack more than 30 lbs. to include things like ice axe, crampons, helmet, water filter, first aid and FOOD. I tend to take too much food, but what if weather forces to you to stay a day or two longer than planned? I also take some "real food" like tortellini w/ marinara sauce - makes me feel a lot better after a day of climbing that eating some freeze-dried chili mac.
"Everyone wants to live on top of the mountain, but all the happiness and growth occurs while you're climbing it." - Andy Rooney

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby kansas » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:16 am

Phill the Thrill wrote: I also take some "real food" like tortellini w/ marinara sauce - makes me feel a lot better after a day of climbing that eating some freeze-dried chili mac.


Tortellini and marinara? Trade that weight for a couple tallboys of Gordon and margarita fixins...priorities man.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby DurangoJenn » Wed Jul 24, 2013 10:35 am

MountainMedic wrote:Eolus is the most underrated 14er I've done. It's loose and exposed, and I think way harder than it gets credit for. I'm surprised (but glad) there aren't more accidents on it. Go into it focused.


Video of a pretty amazing helicopter rescue two years ago:

http://durangoherald.com/article/20110711/NEWS01/707119942/0/SEARCH/Man-ID'd-in-Mount-Eolus-rescue

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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby canuckcowboy » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:09 am

consider getting all 3(4) peaks on the same day if your a strong hiker and the weather is good; then explore the rest of the basin, jupiter, etc. with your extra time.
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Re: Top 5 tips for Chicago Basin

Postby a94buff » Wed Jul 24, 2013 11:25 am

Going to echo a lot of earlier sentiments:

- stash a mesh bag of beer in the river to enjoy while waiting for the train back
- start early - we were on the trail at 4AM both days and back at Twin Lakes by 1030 icing our feet and enjoying the remaining sun while watching storms roll in
- when you hit the rock slabs in the dark on way up to Twin lakes, the cairns get hard to see. generally angle up and left.
- Start out on the trail with only .5L or less water and pump when you get to Twin Lakes to refill. You'll be glad to not have the extra weight for the climb to Twin Lakes.
- Climb North Eolus
- The 'ramp' on Sunlight is a totally decent alternative to the leap of faith as long as the rock is dry and your boots are grippy. Just commit to it. I actually found it to be less scary than what I imagine the leap to be.
- 'put the blinders on' on Sunlight and just do it. Focus on the rock and the move and nothing else. And don't hesitate.
- When the catwalk hits Eolus, resist the urge to go up too soon. The route description on here is a fairly accurate line.
- I just hiked with my backpackcing backpack each day (did this on Harvard/Columbia too) which was fine as it's a pretty light Osprey Aether; my only issue was that all these mountains have steep pitches that require a lot of craning your next up, which was hard to do as I kept hitting the frame sticking up over my shoulder blades. One of our party had a North Face Vertos day pack that packs down really well; I kind of wished I had that, or the Osprey version which clips onto the Aether. But Don't overthink this; if your day pack is heavy I'd leave it at home and just opt for the less weight on the way in.
- Don't underestimate that hike in. the mileage is long and the ~2500 vert is gradual but starts to wear after a while
- Take advantage of Twin Lakes after your hike. Icing your feet for 5 minutes or so is painful at first but it wears off and boy does it pay off. Jumping in altogether will make you feel springtime fresh.
- Pee on rocks
- Helmet is not a bad idea on Eolus and Windom especially. There are super steep sections and some loose rock on Windom where you will be glad you have it if someone above you dislodges something.
- Get an enclosed car ticket for the train. People in the open air car got a rough ride when the storms came in.
- bring a book - you will have down time.
- use sportlegs (sportlegs.com) - these things have changed my climbing life....
- opt for a flask of booze rather than cans of beer

I'll probably think of more but that's what's fresh from last weekends trip.

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