Peak(s):  Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Date Posted:  07/08/2011
Date Climbed:   06/28/2011
Author:  JenGa

 Sunlight and Windom combo  

I climbed Sunlight and Windom with ColoradoMike and Jeff Cruzan last Tuesday, June 28th. Sorry for the late report, I had some recovery issues this week. Please see my trip report on Mt Eolius for the conditions in the basin - basically the snow is completely melted below 12,000 ft, but Twin Lakes was still completely frozen and we had to crampon up the snow fields to get to the notch at the ridge on Sunlight. Spring conditions are making the snow soft so post-holing was a problem near the rocks. Jeff did not have crampons but did fine walking in our kick-steps on the way up the 50 degree snow-slope. I suspect that the snow has melted a lot since last week, however the Twin Lakes are likely still partially frozen. Even after reading the route description on this website, we still made the mistake of missing the trail to the left at the top of the ridge,and we spent some time trying to decide whether to make our way left or right at the notch. Of course it is to the left, and we had no trouble getting to the "window" further along the ridge once we found our way. Be careful of the patchy,small snow fields that still cover the trail on the summit ridge. The snow is melting, and deep bergshrund-type features are deep and the snow is soft. We roped up for safety on the class-three scrambles where the snow was still making the route hazardous. Other than difficult scrambling, we had no problems with route-finding. The cairns are much easier to find than on Mt Eolius. My favorite move of the day was the exposed little ledge that leads to a chimney type of move up to the summit block. That was totally fun! After that, the exposed summit is just ahead, and although Mike clambered up to the small summit block with no problem, I had only enough moxy to inch up the slab up to the step-across and reach my arm out in the general direction of the block. I definitely got spooked. Other than that, the exposure is truly amazing and it was a spectacular climb. We carefully made our way back down to the snow field and plunge-stepped our way down to the basin, then made our way up the snow fields to ascend Windom. We had climbed Eolius and North Eolius two days before, and I was exhausted. In fact, I was maybe as tired as I have ever been ona 14'er, and the sustained third class moves up to Windom should have been much easier than they felt after Sunlight. I was really aware of my physical state at the summit, and luckily we made our way down the easiest part of the ridge down Windom. After that it was an easy walk back out. The stream crossings were very high and swift after all the snow melt, if you go please use extra care on the way out when the streams are high, especially the top crossing that is above a series of waterfalls. Also be careful of the leaving gear, I left my trekking poles on the rocks when we switched to ice axes and when we came back they were unrecognizable because the marmots had eaten off all of the plastic and rubber bits, including the grips. As always, I learn something valuable and new every time I go into the mountains . Overall, we thought that Sunlight was easier than Eolius, definitely not as exposed as Eolius and it was an easier hike and route finding is not nearly as difficult. Of course we had snow to deal with on Eolius that made it more challenging. I'm glad that we did Eolius first. Have fun and watch of for the dang marmots! Also -best of luck to Jeff Cruzan - he was just embarking on a solo 35-day hike on the Colorado trail and took a day off to hike a couple for 14'ers with us. I love that everyone we met on our 5-day stay in Chicago Basin was super friendly and had the opportunity to meet so many nice people. On the way out we passed several forest rangers with llamas who were going in to to set up a camp. From there volunteers plan to stay there throughout the summer to patrol and educate hikers.

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