Peak(s):  Windom Peak  -  14,087 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Date Posted:  09/11/2018
Date Climbed:   09/09/2018
Author:  LataLizzy
 Windom Group via Purgatory Flats   

I had some trouble finding information about the approach to these peaks via Purgatory Flats and climbing all the peaks in one day, so I'm hoping this will be helpful to others who may be looking for the same information that I was. I had heard and read a variety of things about the hike in and whether it was feasible to do all of it in three days. Some said it was best to break up the approach into two days and the peaks into two days; others said it wasn't too strenuous to hike all of it in three days. Everyone I met broke the four peaks up into two days, but I only had a three-day window to hike in, so I aimed for all four in one day. The hike in was pretty long and brutal (but I'm not much of a backpacker), although the trail itself is excellent. From the parking area at Purgatory Flats to about mid-way through the camping area in Chicago Basin took me 8 hours. The last four or five miles into the basin are difficult because the previous ten miles are mostly flat or downhill, and here you finally gain some elevation. I woke up at 5am the following morning and began my ascent to Twin Lakes at 5:20am. I reached the lakes at 6:40am, and began my ascent of Windom. It was raining, graupeling and snowing lightly while I climbed up, so that slowed me down a little. I summited Windom at 8:15am and quickly made my down the peak and traversed towards Sunlight. If there is a trail or cairns, I couldn't find them. The rock is pretty solid for the most part, so I just tried to aim for the saddle north of Windom, then I continued my traverse over to more solid-looking rock features below Sunlight Spires and began gaining elevation again. From here, there are cairns and a clear route to the summit of Sunlight Peak, and I summited at 9:50am. The block move sketched me out, but really, I think it's all mental. The rock is very solid and grippy as described (it also helped that there was no more snow at this point!). From here, the cairns were very easy to follow back down to Twin Lakes. The skies were difficult to read for certain all day, so I didn't spend any time here. I left the lakes around 11am and began my ascent towards North Eolus. This ascent was particularly exhausting, but nothing some Sour Patch Kids and a Clif Bar couldn't fix. The route to North Eolus is clear, and the trail is impressive. Thank you, CFI, for all the effort you put into building those stairs even way up there around 13k! I summited North Eolus at 12:20pm, and again, quickly worked my way off the peak and onto the catwalk towards Eolus. There are a couple easy Class 3 moves on the catwalk, but otherwise, it seemed like a very solid Class 2 section. After the catwalk, there are cairns everywhere leading multiple routes up to the summit. The rock is very solid, but it never hurts to test holds before you put all your trust into them. I summited Eolus at 12:50pm, and breathed a giant sigh of relief! I worked my way down to Twin Lakes and finally felt like I could enjoy the view and relax. I backpacked out the following day in one shot and returned to my car in 6.5 hours, although the last two miles or so to the parking lot are rough with those switchbacks and one last significant gain in elevation! Once again though, I'm a pansy backpacker! I can absolutely see why so many people opt to take the train into Needleton. This trek was challenging, but the trail yields great views of the Animas River, Needle Creek, and eventually, the Basin. Get out there and enjoy it!

Comments or Questions

Thank you
04/06/2019 06:59
This is super helpful thank you!

To the point
07/09/2019 07:51
This is perfect. Direct and to the point. This is just what I was looking for this morning. Thanks.

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