Peak(s):  Pigeon Pk  -  13,972 feet
Turret Pk A  -  13,835 feet
Fifteen, Pk  -  13,700 feet
Sixteen, Pk  -  13,500 feet
Animas Mtn  -  13,786 feet
Monitor Pk  -  13,695 feet
Thirteen, Pk  -  13,705 feet
Date Posted:  09/19/2016
Modified:  09/20/2016
Date Climbed:   09/19/2016
Author:  seano
 Ruby Basin roundup   

I recently tried to link together a bunch of the peaks around Ruby Basin in the Needles, from Pigeon around to Animas. While there's not much new to be said about the part from Monitor to Animas, I thought information about Pigeon through Sixteen might be useful to someone. You can read the full trip report here, but here are "just the facts":

  • I did not find a comfortable (low-fifth or less) downclimb directly from Pigeon, though there is a rap route if you take the obvious gully south, then turn left where it branches. Looking at the peak from the south and southeast after going down and around, it looks like there should be a class 4-5.0 route between the saddle and the point where I gave up on this gully (try the wall/ridge climber's left), but it would be easier to find on the way up.
  • The crux of getting from Turret to Fifteen is the descent of Turret. It's not exceptionally hard (~5.4 where I was, and possibly easier farther south), but the rock is horrible. The climb up Fifteen from this side is class 4-5.0 on decent rock -- head up and right from the notch on the obvious ledge until you reach the south ridge.
  • Sixteen is also 4-5.0 on decent rock from the saddle with Fifteen, and doesn't take much time.
  • I got to the Little Finger / North Eolus saddle by descending most of the way down the south gully between Fifteen and Sixteen, then going through a gap in the left-hand wall just before the bottom of the gully. The east side of Sixteen looked complicated and (probably) chossy from above. This gully is exposed to rockfall from anywhere on the standard route up Fifteen, so watch out if there are other climbers or goats in the area.
  • The lower gully descending to Ruby Creek from near Little Finger was snow-free on 9/20/16, but possibly treacherous. I found a bit of low fifth class climbing getting around it to the east, which might be made easier. The south side to New York Basin might be an easier way to bail.
  • For someone wanting to traverse around the basin as I hoped to do, this part of the ridge seems like it would go much easier east to west (North Eolus to Pigeon), since that way you are usually climbing up the chossier and more complicated rock.

Crux downclimb off Turret

Turret from Fifteen

Fifteen from Sixteen

Little Finger and North Eolus

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4

Comments or Questions
that's one way . . .
09/20/2016 23:32
to do all these peaks. Quite impressive, congrats.

09/21/2016 11:25
That was a big day on some rough terrain. Nicely done.

09/21/2016 11:37
Having only done the 14ers in the Needles, I did not realize how scary and crumbly the rock can be, and how suddenly the rock quality changes. That's too bad, because the scenery is amazing, and Ruby Basin is a logical traverse.

Ruby Crown
09/22/2016 12:47
Well done! You were flying. I was wondering about that traverse. Last time I was back there, I had no sights on Bicentennials. Appreciate the beta. It would be cool to go the other way and unlock that first ascent route (or similar) on Pigeon, from the Turret / Pigeon Saddle. Truly a special corner of Colorado. Cheers!

09/23/2016 14:19
I was disappointed that Roach's 13ers book only discusses one route for most peaks, including Pigeon. I'll have to look at the old Ormes guide the next time I get a chance, as I am also curious about his low 5th class route on Pigeon's north face. It probably won't happen this season, but I'd love an excuse to get back to that part of the range.

09/23/2016 22:27
That was me in a yellow jacket and then later on Peak 15.. I am truly amazed at your climbing achievement when I thought summiting peak 15 was a big deal,you climb all of these peaks in one day,wow.
Sorry for sending a few lose rocks into that gully,I tried my best not to do that knowing you were there! I do agree that I went too far to the left,but previously reading trip reports,I followed what I thought was the safest route.I did come down closer to the ridge.
Nice job on your day and a very nice trip report with some good pictures!!!!

09/24/2016 09:12
That is amazing!

09/24/2016 14:11
Vadim -- Don't worry about the rocks; that face is a giant pile of choss, and it's really hard not to knock bits off. I'm just glad you didn't come off when that piece broke, and that I (apparently) didn't shower you with rocks when I didn't know anyone was in the gully below me. It felt good to get in a big day in the San Juans at the end of what has been a good season for me. I had hoped to fit in outings to Jupiter and Storm/Silex/Guardian, but it may be a bit too snowy now.

Anyways, see you in the hills.

07/28/2017 11:25
'Nuff said.

06/25/2020 14:15
First of all, that's an insane day hike! And second, awesome and very committing ridge scramble off into the unknown! With your crumbs of info I'm going to have a peek at trying N Eolus to Turret based on your experience.

06/26/2020 11:25
Jakomait -- Let me know what you find if you do it. It would be a manageable loop from a camp at Needleton, going up Chicago Basin, then over Pigeon and down the ridge (faint climber's trail) to the Ruby Basin trail. I wish the rock were better back there, because Ruby Basin is beautiful and uncrowded.

It sounds like we have similar interests, other than you climbing way harder than I ever have or will. It would be cool to team up for something next time I'm in Colorado. A Walk in the Park, perhaps?

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