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Sunlight Peak

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Route: Chicago Basin Approach
Posted On: 6/13/2024, By: vagorsan
Info: Attempted on 13 June. I made it to 13,500 feet before deciding the icy slope was too steep for my comfort zone. There is still a couple feet of snow most of the ascent up Sunlight from the Sunlight/Windom turnoff junction: ICE AXE should be carried for safety. Firm snow before sunrise but quickly softens to posthole conditions. Would recommend planning to summit by sunrise to avoid too much postholing at least to the Windom/Sunlight turnoff, and definitely recommend an ice axe. I started at 0430 form the Chicago Basin, and that was a couple hours later than I should have started. Other than that, it is dry and beautiful all the way up to Chicago Basin and Twin Lakes. Wildflowers starting to bloom in the Basin, and leading up to it columbines are in full bloom! There is a slightly tricky stream crossing heading up to Twin Lakes but you can stay dry if you step carefully. There's a brief section after the frozen Twin Lakes that requires microspikes to be safe (no way around it... and this icy section typically stays in place into summer). Then there's a route up that avoids snow until you get to the turnoff between Windom and Sunlight at which point you need to have your ice axe ready just in case though the runoff is not crazy steep. Also, I know it's a weekday, but there were very few people in the Basin. Saw just 2 others camping, and saw one other who attempted Windom this morning. Be aware of critters too! I ran into 2 different people who had their hiking pole handles and hat chewed up by porcupines and rabbits. Definitely ensure you have a way to protect your food. So far, no insect issues though that will probably change soon. 
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Route: Chicago Basin Approach
Posted On: 6/14/2024, By: nrobsaihttam
Info: Hiked out to Chicago Basin Weds 6/12 and summited Sunlight peak Thurs 6/13. There was basically no snow below twin lakes (but plenty of hungry and curious animals in the basin). At and above twin lakes there are many unavoidable patches of snow. For sunlight specifically, I found that I did need an ice axe. I only had regular boots and micro spikes and was able to make it work. Crampons might have added a bit of confidence in spots, but there was a big mix of rocky vs snowy sections so being able to switch back and forth was nice. Snow becomes soft and postholey by 9 or 10 am. Not very crowded with people yet, only saw a couple other groups the whole time we were out. Weather at night was mild, but Friday it was rainy all day so we left early. 
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Route: Chicago Basin Approach
Posted On: 10/13/2023, By: aggiemountainman
Info: Trail had 1-2'' of snow for half the route. At Class 3 part and above completely dry except for the hole at the summit. Leap of faith and summit block had no snow (at least not any that would interfere with the jump). Eolus and N. Eolus dry from our view, including the cat walk. Windom completely covered in snow, except for the ridge. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/25/2023, By: bjbatchelor
Info: Hiked/ran from Purgatory in a day. Trail was in great condition. The thin layer of snow that fell overnight melted off by the time I got up to Leap of Faith. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/25/2023, By: JasonCrane
Info: Tacked on Sunlight after Eolus/N Eolus on Sunday. The only mountain goats I saw all weekend were a group of adults with their offspring at 13k literally sitting on the trail around that tall triangular cairn up above Twin Lakes. One of them, the big one, who looked to be the patriarch (or Enforcer) was staring me down & made no effort whatsoever to relocate from the center of the trail. So, I just hiked around them to the right to avoid any confrontation. Sunlight is completely dry with a few minor patches of snow in the summit area. The ascent up the red gully is cairned, but has a lot of loose, dry scree making footing difficult at times. Once your reach the saddle adjacent to Sunlight Spire, you have to follow the cairns along the ridge up to the summit & there are a few tricking Class 3 rock climbing features & I wasn't sure which was the Class 4 portion. I had to stop for a few minutes at one point to try to figure out where the trail continued & it definitely took some rock climbing skills to get up a few of those rock blocks. The eye hole opening on the ridge was very noticeable & reassuring that I was going the correct way & then the tight rock opening that you have to crawl through was super exciting as I realized I was about to reach the summit! Without a doubt, after coming all that way I had to do the Leap of Faith. What an adrenaline rush! I was only able to land on my stomach for a moment like a belly flop! The rocks are leaning at 45 degree angles, but plenty of friction for footing. The summit is basically a monolith of a giant slab leaning against this other group of rocks. Coming down was fine, but the red saddle & scree slope was a bunch of loose sand & required extra care not to slip. I just wore trail-runners, no spikes & no ice axe. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/24/2023, By: andlours
Info: Almost entirely summer conditions. Small patches of snow in the chimney that could easily be avoided. The leap of faith is no joke. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/3/2023, By: Briere
Info: Full summer conditions. Route finding was straight forward from the 14ers photos. The summit block rock was dry when I did it and I found it easy going up but going down tricky. I had to jump slightly onto the second rock since I wasnt tall enough for my legs to stretch down. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/3/2023, By: bryanf
Info: Must cross 50 feet of snow on flat terrain in the upper basin. No need for snow gear at this point. Scree up the chute to the saddle is dirt-thin and probably the most time consuming part of this route. Route-finding was pretty straightforward, but a little tough at a couple of points into the class 3 terrain. Tried to improve the cairns where I could. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 8/19/2023, By: Snommed1
Info: Windom/Sunlight...90% summer conditions. One snowfield to cross (~50yd, see picture) with no easy go-around. If this is still frozen solid from overnight, can be a sketchy traverse. Easy crossing once the snow has softened. Mosquitoes have abated in Chicago Basin. None to speak of. Not a lot of Needle Creek water access points up to Chicago Basin if you had planned to filter water along the way. Wear sunscreen. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 8/18/2023, By: nunns
Info: Smooth sailing to the top. No ax or traction needed. A couple of flat snowfields to cross that can be safely and easily navigated without ax or traction. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 7/17/2023, By: 815WM
Info: Started from Vallecito Creek TH on 7/13 and camped in Chicago Basin on 7/14. The next day, the 15th, I started at 4:30am and soloed all four 14ers: Eolus - North Eolus - Sunlight - Windom. I summited the last peak at 12:30 pm on a perfectly clear bluebird day. None of the peaks have snow on the summit ridges. You still need to climb a bit of snow to gain each saddle. You can get away with just poles or an axe, but I still highly recommend spikes. The most(and steepest) snow field is still encountered gaining the ridge for Eolus. I met a group as I was coming back down from Windom that summited Eolus and N Eolus without spikes or poles! Sunlight and Windom still required snowfield crossings as well. I was glad I had my spikes and poles but these two are easier if you don't have the gear. After summiting the grand slam, I took a nap back in the basin before packing out over Columbine pass and all the way down to Vallecito Creek for a total of just over 18 miles on the day. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 7/8/2023, By: colekics
Info: Started from Purgatory TH and camped in Chicago Basin. The next day, the 6th, Three other guys and I hit up all four 14ers: Sunlight -> Windom -> North Eolus -> Eolus. Essentially, none of the peaks have snow on the summit ridges. You just need to climb a bit of snow to gain each saddle. You can get away with just poles or an axe, multiple guys in our group never used spikes but they can add comfort. Started moving at 3:30 but coming down from Windom saddle around 8:15, the snow began to soften just enough to glissade. Then the snow was softer going up to the Eolus saddle, and once we came down we got some really great glissading in. The most snow climbing exists going up the Eolus saddle. We also found a fully packed pack on the ridge direct of Eolus, so if someone left it please let me know. Just a reminder: STAY ON THE STANDARD ROUTES. We were climbing Sunlight when we watched a group of five people try to climb the FACE of windom from the saddle between Windom and Sunlight Spire. They were just in spikes, trying to cross 60 degree side hill hard snow to reach a continuous rocky outcropping to the top. I thought I was about to watch them slide into a rocky runout and we'd have to call SOS. They then proceeded to climb loose, steep Class 5 rock to the top. We met them at the top of Windom and talked to them. Just make sure to follow your GPS up there, know which saddles to gain in order to climb safely. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 7/4/2023, By: mjordan
Info: Summited Sunlight on July 1st from Windom. Theres no standard route up the face because its all snow still. We came down from Windom and just went straight up Sunlight to the saddle. Its steep and snowy but all 7 people in my group did it with only micro spikes and trekking poles. After the saddle its free and clear climbing to the summit and there was only one patch of snow to traverse right after the saddle. We summited then glissaded down from the saddle around 10:30am. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 6/27/2023, By: herblings
Info: I started from Purgatory, camped in Chicago Basin on 6/24, then headed up the Twin Lakes Approach around 10AM the next day. Beautiful weather forecast and clear skies the entire trip. The Twin Lakes area itself was dry at the beginning, then quickly snowy. Most of the trail up to the gully was snow covered, with only a some dry patches of talus/land in between. At this point (around 11:30AM), the snow was still solid enough to walk on, but poles and spikes were helpful for ascending. The gully itself was mostly dry, with some snow until the peak, which was basically dry. I climbed up to the summit block with little difficulty. However, descending via the Leap of Faith was pretty nerve-wracking for me - long fall if you miss! I ended up climbing down with my hands and feet, using my legs to stretch across the blocks. For reference, I was able to do this at 5'5" tall, but just jumping probably would have been easier. The descent from the gully was long and difficult because I lost my trekking poles. I had placed them in the gully laying horizontally on a rock once the scrambling began, in a fairly obvious located (i.e., not stashed). I had been tracking my trip via Gaia and tried retracing my steps, then climbed numerous times up and down the gully to no avail. Although I may have misplaced them, I strongly suspect that a marmot or some other alpine critter stole them for the rubber handles, especially considering how much the wildlife down in the basin love eating gear. ***If anyone finds 2 Locus Gear CP3 trekking poles (or their parts), please DM me!! *** 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 6/23/2023, By: ballardwf04
Info: By far the most difficult and character-building peak I've climbed. Our group was not at all ready for the snowy conditions, but managed to summit with an axe and two pairs of spikes between the three of us. Snow is continuous from Twin Lakes to 13,950 or so, but thankfully the summit pitch is more or less dry, albeit with some ice patches. Huge thanks to Jack, who we met along the trail, for leading up the snowy slope to the summit and giving beta on the summit pitch. We ended up roping up for a snowy section around 13,950 (we had the rope for a planned ascent of the Spire, but conditions quickly ruled that out), which was helpful for our group but probably unnecessary. This peak will probably hold considerable snow for at least the next 2-3 weeks. 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 6/20/2023, By: tjvanfossen
Info: Very little snow on approach to Twin Lakes, no traction needed up to there. Continuous snow from lakes to summit block if you so choose. We just picked a line and went with the direct-to-summit option. Made the route much easier, honestly. We met up with standard route right before the wormhole. Final summit block is mostly bare rock. Axe and crampons recommended, but can probably leave snowshoes at home (although may become post-holey as things warm up). 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 5/18/2023, By: Kya Cav
Info: Chicago Basin 5/11/23-5/13/23 Dry trail about 3.5-4 miles in. Then solid snow coverage rest of the way up. We camped at 11,000 feet and basically at the end of the flat valley. All peaks still in for summit ski decents but will definitely fade away after a week or so of sunny skies. Go getr done! 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/29/2022, By: scott_s
Info: Summer conditions all the way up. Gully is 500+ feet of steep, loose dirt and it sucks. 
Route: West Ridge
Posted On: 9/16/2022, By: jtfoss1
Info: Awesome alternative route to the standard one. It was pretty easy to find the gully to the left of the main peak to ascend. The view on the other side was incredible right after sunrise. A couple moves felt low-fifth but it wasn't overly exposed. Routefinding was pretty straightforward and there are copious cairnes on the standard route for the way down. Definitely more pleasant than the steep dirt of the standard route if you're comfortable with some more difficult scrambling. 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 9/5/2022, By: shapovalovm
Info: Did the whole CBasin from Purgatory: Day 1: Started at 9:10. Parking was full, so I had to park near the community center (lots of additional parking there). Got to the basin by 2:45. Lots of people! Camped at 11200 Day 2: started 5:10, did 4 peaks, back to camp by 1pm. Started down at 1:30, back to the car by 6:50pm Peaks (in order): 1) Eolus: class 2 to the notch, perfectly cairned, no issues with navigation even in pitch dark. The catwalk is nothing to be afraid of, if you can walk in a straight line (it's like 3-4 feet wide at worst). Scramble up is easy. 2) N Eolus. A tiny baby scramble from the notch. Overall from Eolus it took me 25 min to get there 3) Sunlight: shit shute until 13800, horrible experience. But from there it's a ton of fun. No way it is class 4, though, even the summit block. The fall from there is to the nearest rock which is like 5 feet below. I understand it may be scary to people, but so may be the catwalk, but we don't call it class 4 do we? 4) Windom. Having done 3 peaks, this one felt hard. The views are fantastic though. Also, again, I don't think the rating is right. Haven't seen a single person who managed to summit it with no scrambling above the saddle, so should be class 3. If Sneffels and Kit Carson are class 3, this one definitely must be class 3 as well 
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