Peak(s):  White Dome  -  13,627 feet
One, Pk  -  13,589 feet
Storm King Pk  -  13,752 feet
"West Trinity"  -  13,765 feet
Trinity Pk  -  13,805 feet
Arrow Pk  -  13,803 feet
Vestal Pk  -  13,864 feet
Electric Pk B  -  13,292 feet
Garfield B, Mt  -  13,074 feet
Graystone Pk  -  13,489 feet
Date Posted:  10/03/2019
Modified:  07/17/2020
Date Climbed:   09/09/2019
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   angry, Grizzly Adams
 Tour de Grenadiers - the finale   

Dates: September 2 - 10, 2019 (9 days)

13ers climbed: 13 (6 repeats, 4 via new routes), 7 new ranked

9 Day Totals: ~55 Miles, ~25,500 Gain

Start: Stony pass Finish: Molas pass

Peaks in the order climbed:

Stony pass
White Dome
Pk 1 (13er #350)
Storm King via SE ridge (4th class)
West Trinity via North face (low 5th class)
Middle Trinity via ridge traverse (4th class)
"East Trinity"
Electric B via North ridge (4th class)
Garfield B
Arrow via lower ramp (low 5th class)
Vestal via Central Shift on Wham (5.7R)

This was my 9th trip to Weminuche and I was looking to finish the range. I had 5 peaks left, on the opposite sides of the Grenadier range. Shawn suggested we start at Stony pass and finish at Molas pass, traversing the range and climb everything that looks interesting in addition to my 5 non-scrambly peaks. The idea of Central Shift on Vestal and North ridge on Arrow came up, but I didn't want to haul rope and gear in our packs for 7 days before we get there. So we sent out some feelers and Rose (angry) expressed interest in joining us for just those 2 peaks and bringing the needed gear.

Day 1 - Stony Pass 13ers and backpack to Eldorado lake

~3,000 ft ascent, ~9 miles, 7.5 hours (8 am to 3.30 pm)

I was able to get off work earlier than expected and left Breckenridge around noon. Even then, it took me most of the day with a couple stops to make my way all the way to Molas pass past Silverton where I arrived at dusk to almost completely full parking lot. Shawn and his friend Steve showed up around 6 am in the morning, I jumped in their truck and we made it over to Stony pass (the road looked pretty rough this year). Shawn already hiked Canby and Stony pass peaks (and he was nervous about leaving our gear outside for the marmot feast), so he set off directly for the Eldorado lake. As I don't get many chances to get up true 4x4 roads in my Subi, so I stashed my big pack, sprinkled it with moth balls and set off for Canby and Stony pass at 8am. The peaks provided a nice overview of Weminuche.

By 10.30 am I was back at my pack, finding it thankfully untouched. Some game of tetris was required to fit the contents of my day pack in, and by 11 am I started on the Colorado/Continental Divide trail. I soon knew I was in trouble as the peaks in the distance were barely getting closer even after a couple miles in. The pack, loaded with 9 days worth of food and supplies, felt very heavy. I saw a few hikers on the trail. After 4.5 hours on the trail, I made it to the Eldorado lake and found Shawn's tent.

Start of the adventure
Canby summit views
Canby from Stony pass
Weminuche preview from Stony pass
On the road again...
White Dome and Pk One are finally getting closer (after ~5 miles in)
wild looking Elk Creek canyon

Day 2 - White Dome, Pk 1 and backpack to Stormy Gulch

~4,800 ft ascent, ~10 miles, 11 hours (7 am to 6 pm)

Next morning by 7 am we were making our way towards the White Dome ridge. Soon we were engaging the marble slabs (this will be the theme for the whole trip). After more talus hopping and bypassing the first bump on the ridge to our left, we found some blocky terrain and more slabs. The ridge was a pleasant walk to the summit, where we arrived just after 8 am. Class 2-3 terrain lead us to the summit of Peak One by 10 am. This was my 350th 13er summit and we even found the register. We discussed the traverse options to the Vestal basin, but going over steep loose talus didn't sound appealing (to me), so I lobbied for the CDT trail over Hunchback pass to Stormy Gulch. We did have an extra day for Storm King.

Eldorado lake in the morning
Shawn on White Dome summit
Shawn proposed dropping down the saddle between Pk 1 and White Dome and then over the Trinities pass into the Vestal basin. My response was "hell no", not with such a heavy pack.
Shawn on the summit of Pk One. I am smiling too - because we're not going down the saddle in the background with overnight packs.
Our Grenadiers agenda for the week - let's reclimb all of them, and add 4 more peaks
White Dome from Eldorado lake

We got back to camp before noon, packed up the camp and started the long 7 mile hike to Stormy Gulch. At least it was on very good trail for the most part.

On the descent to Kite lake
Guardian looms over Hunchback pass. CDT is a great trail, we were making good progress even uphill
Big guns of the Stormy Gulch - our objective is on the right. Miraculously, it didn't rain on us. As soon as we put the pack covers on, the weather cleared for the most part

We took a break before leaving CDT and taking the Stormy Gulch exit. Last time we were here, in 2016, we failed to find the trail on the way in, but found it on the way out, so we were hoping to have no issues this time. We did find the trail early on, but with lush vegetation, it was pretty faint this year. Up in the meadow we lost the trail as it got very marshy and bushwhacked our way to our chosen campsite. But it was the spot I was hoping to camp at since first seeing it in 2015.

Losing the trail in this meadow, but it's so pretty. Hail to the King!
Our great campsite @11,700 feet - photo taken the next day

Day 3 - Storm King via SE ridge and backpack to Trinities basin

~3,600 ft ascent, ~5.5 miles, 8.5 hours (7 am to 3.30 pm)

The weather forecast for next day wasn't good - 70% chance of rain after noon, so we tried our best with an early start. By 7 am we left camp and soon ran into snow in the chimney. Fortunately it was easy to bypass. We both climbed the standard route on Storm King on prior trips, so this time we were interested in the Southeast ridge, which looked pretty impressive from Silex. I was able to find a short blurb on Mountain Project, which turned out to be surprisingly accurate: "the Southeast ridge, with initial climbing moves over a step, later has portions of scrambling over steepish sections". We left the climbing shoes at camp, and La Sportiva trailrunners worked pretty well for us.

Snow in September!
Ridge of interest comes into view (left skyline)

The first challenge is to get off the ground, probably stiff class 4 or low 5

Me on the initial steep section

After the initial difficulties, the route goes at Class 3-4 for the majority of the ridge; however we felt there were a couple low class 5 sections if we wanted to stay on the ridge. The very last difficult section (which Shawn tackled head on and reported loose rock), I bypassed to the left (west) and enjoyed an easy climbing back up to the ridge, which terminated on low angle slabs before merging with the standard route shortly below the summit.

Shawn hugs some rocks
Lake Silex in the background
Me on the slabs
Shawn on the steep dihedral section, probably a cairn in the lower left corner
Enjoyable low-angle slabs near the summit ridge
2nd time on the summit of Storm King (1st time my phone battery died and I didn't have any photos of the peak)
Descent to the saddle with Pk 8

Window to Weminuche

Descent to the saddle with Pk 8 to the southwest
Some snow and Silex on the descent

We got back to camp around 11.30 am, still no sign of impending weather. It was time for less enjoyable, but necessary part of the day - backpack into the Vestal basin over 13,000 ft Trinities pass. We would start and end the day at the same elevation - 11,700 ft, but in the basins 3 miles apart. The trail looked more faint than in prior years, but we had no trouble finding it. I didn't remember the backpack to the top of the Stormy gulch being bad from a prior trip, and it wasn't, taking us only an hour.

Putting in work
Camped by this upper lake in '15

As we approached the top of the basin, I got momentarily confused as to why Shawn was heading up this impossible-looking saddle. But after consulting the Gaia, I realized this was the Trinities saddle. It looked just 400 feet of steep incline, so it was time to suck it up and get through this section.

Shawn heading up the Trinities saddle
The real work - over 13k saddle we go (more like crawl in my case)

I was elated to reach the top of the pass, that is, until I realized what the descent would entail. But Shawn scouted it 2 weeks prior, and assured me, that it, in fact goes.

Descent off Trinities pass - don't trip
Steep and exposed descent off the Trinities pass
Of course, once up in Vestal basin, all troubles were almost instantly forgotten
West Trinity on the right - our climbing objective for tomorrow

Trekking for another mile and following my old GPX track from '13 we found the trail and descended it to our campsite for the next 2 nights, arriving by 3.30 pm. It still hasn't rained yet.

Day 4 - "West Trinity" via North face, Trinities ridge traverse

~3,000 ft ascent, ~4 miles, 8.5 hours (7 am to 3.30 pm)

When Shawn told me which peaks and routes he pre-hiked 2 weeks before our trip, I was the most jealous of this one. You did what? North face direct on West Trinity, with the Trinities ridge traverse??? Sounded way more fun than what I managed on my first trip to the basin. Luckily, since it was really good, he was up for a repeat in just 2 weeks. Although he assured me it's doable in approach shoes, I packed in my rock shoes (which I had hauled from Stony pass), and sure was glad I did... Despite me begging to do the *exact* same line, we ended up drifting further left to apparently more difficult terrain.

The ever helpful Mountain Project has this to say about the route: "A band of overhung cliffs blocks the base of the face, but easy paths through can be found up the lefthand side. There is no single clear line once you are on the face; we aimed toward the center, following the line of least resistance. As you gain elevation, the angle gradually steepens and you are pushed toward the left side of the face by more cliffbands. Blocky scrambling at the top takes you to the summit."

I think we interpreted the "lefthand" side as the recommended direction, however, looking at CalTopo slope angle afterwards, it's fairly clear to me that more central route likely to be slightly easier, which visually also made more sense with more blocky terrain in the middle of the face. If (when) I do this face again, I plan to stick more to the center of the face. Overall, this was probably my favorite route from the trip, easily rivaling Wham and Arrow.

Anyhow, expecting some questionable weather again in the afternoon, we left camp at quarter to 7 am, crossed the meadow and took the direct line up the slabs.

Shawn hiking the slabs on the approach
Shawn sizes up the slabs. We ended up going far left to find the bypass, but I believe I saw a few more options more central
Shawn looking for a good entry point
Let the scrambling begin (me)
Shawn cruising

Then it got a bit more serious, as we stubbornly kept trending left. Overall, it reminded me of the 1st Flatiron, with different type of rock. Glad I was climbing a lot of slab this summer. Route finding kept me on my toes, as I was looking for more cruiser options. Crux came in the form of fairly steep slab. I managed to escape around to the right after what it felt like 5.6 slabby climbing, while Shawn kept left.

Still cruiser, but approaching the difficulties
Shawn on the crux section
Me on the slabby crux section - yes, there were water streaks from the rain overnight

After that, I was able to keep the difficulty to manageable class 4 - easy 5th, while Shawn kept getting in trouble, but he didn't seem to mind that :)

Shawn looking for trouble (I bypassed this section to the right)
Steep but blocky terrain near the summit ridge with lots of options (photo by Shawn)
Shawn tops out
Staying on the ridge just below the summit, the rock quality was really good
Shawn scrambles up last bit of the ridge

Eventually, we were able to gain the ridge less than 100 feet below the summit. With the route finding, backtracking, we didn't make the summit until well after 9 am. The weather was still holding up, so we changed back into trailrunners and started on the traverse around 10 am after a very pleasant summit stay.

Shawn starting the descent towards the saddle with Middle Trinity, Balsam lake in the background
Traverse is in, but weather is starting to build
Starting the traverse

When we got to the saddle and asked Shawn where the downclimb to the traverse was, he seemed surprised. Downclimb? We're taking the ridge proper! Does it go? Well, it went last time! Clearly, he never read any Roach directions. He kept taking the ridge direct, while I, having spent some mental energy on the North face, took the class 3 line just to the right, in order to move a bit faster. It worked out really well (there seemed to be a grassy ramp just below and to the right of me, with even easier options if desired). True ridge didn't go completely, so Shawn was forced to do a short, stiff downclimb, while my line worked out perfectly with less effort.

Is there a downclimb somewhere?
Once back up on the ridge, I decided to take a peek down. Don't have shaky hands!
Taking the photo above
The route ahead. We bypassed the next tower under and to the right, and even saw some cairns
Pretty Weminuche
Of course, Shawn wanted to get back up on the ridge

The pinnacle before the summit had the most of the loose rock and took the most care. The walkoff on the other side was very doable, not exceeding class 3.

Me on the ridge (photo by Shawn)
Middle Trinity ahead
Blocky terrain below the summit of Middle Trinity
Ridge to Middle Trinity
Starting towards East Trinity

We made the Middle Trinity summit @noon, but it looked like we may get rained on soon. We hurried down towards the last Trinity. But as we got to the saddle (Shawn was ahead of me), the rain came and the more difficult ridge line became out of question.

We were playing the game of not kicking down any rocks, and it was quiet :)

Shawn made it across the gully near the saddle and headed up, while I had trouble crossing the wet rocks just a few minutes behind him. I tried several options and finally made it across on wet blocks. Something you would normally trust when dry, was taking longer with more care.

Going up the standard route of East Trinity
Ready to head down
Looking back into stormy looking Stormy Gulch

On the last summit by 2pm, I was ready to head down. I was mentally and physically spent and the effort of the last 4 days started catching up to me. We had hopes to move our camp to the final location by Vestal meadow, but feeling exhausted, it felt good to stay where we were for another night.

R&R in the tent

Day 5 - Electric via North ridge and Garfield B

~4,000 ft ascent, ~7 miles, 10 hours, plus moving camp

Day 5 called for a rest day, and loudly. After getting down from Trinities the day before, we did the peak inventory, and Electric drew the shortest straw. We were saving Vestal and Arrow to go with Rose, which left Electric, Garfield and Graystone up for grabs. Electric it is, short and sweet. But first, we needed to move our camp to its more permanent location in the Vestal meadow. We left the upper camp @11,800 ft by 7.45 am, quite a bit behind schedule, and not because of me (cough, cough), made our way down the meadow and noticed some campsites already taken. Shawn immediately vetoed the meadow camping itself and was almost ready to head back up, when someone (cough, cough again) spotted a perfect campsite, which got 2 thumbs up from the campsite connoisseur himself. Whew, crisis averted. By 9 am we were moved in - tents up, backpacks and food bags up and mothballs sprinkled. Finally it was time for Electric. Even with the late start and a chance of afternoon showers, I wasn't too worried. It's barely 2k ft of uphill and we can see the peak from the campsite.

We quickly made our way down the good trail to 11,200 ft, crossed the gushing creek, contoured the slope and started heading uphill on talus. Not even a hundred feet into this madness, I stopped to check Gaia. Spoilt after several days of great scrambling, the route looked atrocious. There was nothing ahead but talus. Even visually, the North ridge looked like a good way to go, and Gaia confirmed it - less steep than West Trinity. Shawn wasn't sure. He never heard of this route, and neither had I, and he wanted a short day, not an epic. I tried talus again, but after a few more feet just started trending right to a nice looking grassy gully.

Shawn heading up Electric (right)
Me heading up towards the ridge

Once away from the talus hell (at least temporarily) and back on grass, I already felt better. There are several options to gain the ridge (more like a broad shoulder), and I picked a narrow gully (basically a dry couloir) between rock walls. It was certainly loose, but difficulties didn't exceed Class 3. They were many other options as well.

Me in the gully

Once past the steep section, the gully mellows, broadens and joins the ridge. Views start opening up too. Shawn was finally convinced once he saw a cairn. Later he said (and I quote) that this route was 100 times better than the route we descended (the south gully). And then it was the fun part - cruiser class 2-3 for the most part on great rock, with a couple very short class 4 sections. Shawn never stashed his poles, and I stashed and unstashed mine multiple times as there was a fair amount of walking between easy scrambling.

Arrow and Trinities from North ridge.
North ridge ahead
Easy and enjoyable scrambling
Low angle terrain

Shawn must have been tired because so unlike him, he kept skipping extracurricular parts, while I was embracing them. Just below the summit the ridge got more involved, but we weren't looking for an easy bypass, which I think is possible.

Me on bypassable bit
Nice scramble
Low angle slab walking - me
Shawn finishes off the ridge
Me on the summit examining the register

We hanged out on the summit for a bit, signed the register and noticed that at least one other party did the North ridge route. They were from Durango. This is how it works - durangotangs conceal all the best routes from the front range gapers, but they couldn't hide it from Gaia! Garfield B and Graystone looked far away, we were fatigued and content with just heading back down. Now for the descent part. Ugh.

Garfield B looking far away
Shawn with Graystone behind

The descent was very loose and steep. We weren't quite sure where the "route" went, so we just headed in the direction of the saddle with Graystone. At least the views of Arrow were very nice. After an hour of this misery, which felt like forever, we got down to the pass.

Descent gully - I gave Shawn plenty of room
Arrow from Electric
Near the bottom
Me on the descent
Descent route from hell

We got down to the pass by 1pm and had a little break. It took me one good look at our prospective descent route to tell Shawn: We have to get Garfield today, there's no way I am doing this approach more than once. It was the endless sea of talus. Weather wasn't looking great though (spoiler alert: clouds and rain elsewhere, sun followed us the rest of the day). We were tired. We barely had enough food and water. This was supposed to be a rest day. But adding Garfield B just made the most sense - we're not coming all the way back here for this peak. Besides the route to Garfield didn't look that bad. So after eating some gu, we continued on. On the way to the saddle with Point Pun, we ran into some big slabs. Slabs were the theme of the whole trip. But at least these were slabs, not talus, so it went pretty fast.

Walking the slabs
Sizing up Garfield from the lake
Garfield lake
Shawn gaining the ridge with Galfield lake below
Working the ridge
Me on the summit checking the phone
Shawn approaches the summit as clouds closing in on us (~3pm)

We gained the Garfield ridge pretty efficiently (note: if you're motivated for the summit and not stopping for photos every few moments, the route goes pretty quickly). But the class 3 ridge (with a couple harder bits) slowed us down and felt long - Shawn stayed mostly ridge proper, while I, for the sake of time, bypassed the difficulties on the right (east) side. I was pretty anxious to get it done, so kept moving. We finally made the summit by 3pm. The summit didn't have a register and there was another subsummit nearby, BUT for the first time in 5 days I had cell reception. I just got a new phone a few days before the trip, so wasn't sure if it were Verizon or me :) I also had to tinker with settings way more than with my old phone due to screen sensitivity (i.e. pocket dialing), but the photo quality and expanded memory were ultimately worth it :) Anyway, I had 4G reception and I immediately checked if we were on the proper summit (we were), loaded MP app for Arrow and Vestal routes (would't load without reception back at camp), checked the radar, the weather forecast for next few days, texted Brittany that we were still alive, and, most importantly, sent Rose directions to our new campsite; all while Shawn updated his Instagram :)

I was amazed by the vertical relief of Garfield B on the west side. A skier in me tried to calculate the drop off, and I was coming up with something like 4k to the valley floor - comparable to the Bells! I believe Jarett Luttrell snowboarded the side down to Animas this spring.

Looking down to Animas

Descent went fairly quick, and thankfully Shawn had a water filter, so I was able to replenish by the lake. By 5 pm we were back at the Electric-Graystone saddle. For a moment, I entertained the idea of going up another 1k feet for Graystone, but Shawn was having none of it. I also knew I could grab it later from either Arrow or Vestal and wanted to save some remaining energy (and daylight) for the descent. In hindsight, the trifesta makes perfect sense, and I would exit the saddle between Arrow and Vestal and avoid the Electric-Arrow basin completely when dry.

Electric (L) and Arrow (R)

The descent proved to be even worse than our adjusted expectations. I wouldn't want to be in that basin without snow. The only consolation was we only had to do it one way.

Escaping talus for a snow patch
No, the left side doesn't go
Shawn "enjoying" himself for another 1,500 ft of talus

Finally we hit the grass, crossed the creek, found the trail and Shawn booked it uphill. I collected some rocks to make the cairn for Rose and staggered back to the camp around 6.30 pm, with not much daylight to spare. We definitely were planning on a rest day for tomorrow.

Day 6 - Rest/Rain day

The only thing I could get motivated for next morning was the laundry. After breakfast it took me a couple hours to get through all my clothes. By noon the rain started and it rained on and off for the rest of the day. We were expecting Rose later that day and kept thinking it was a rough, wet day for a backpack. She finally arrived around 7.30 pm, just as we were losing hope and daylight. Tomorrow's plan was Arrow, but with the rain and 3-hour weather window we nixed the North Ridge route idea and decided to do the variation of the standard route. This would be Shawn's Grenadier range finisher.

Rainy Saturday at camp

Day 7 - Arrow via lower ramp

~2,200 ft ascent, ~3 miles, 5 hours

The rest day certainly helped my motivation, but it was still raining when we woke up at 5am, so we went back to sleep. Rain seemed to stop by 6am, so after breakfast we left camp around 8 am under cloudy skies. The willow bash to the upper basin was miserable, we were all soaked after a few minutes. After reaching the upper basin we regrouped, and despite Arrow not looking welcoming at all, decided to give it a go.

Why are we even here? It's going to rain any minute now
Rose on the initial slabby section
Shawn is heading up - what else? - slabs
Shawn heading up

Last time I climbed Arrow (in 2013) I took the lower ramp by mistake, this time it was by choice :) Shawn and I stayed on the lower ramp and Rose took the standard route, we converged on the summit. The rock was definitely more mossy and lichen-y than last time, in addition to being damp after all the rain overnight. We took it slow. The route steepens towards the top, so it wasn't just my imagination last time. A few hardest moves maybe pushed 5.0 and felt a bit precarious due to damp rock. Weather was miraculously holding up so far.

Rose on standard route to our right
Near the summit - North ridge of Arrow is to the left
Shawn and Rose on the summit ~11 am
Electric (the Choss King) from Arrow

Weather really started to look threatening, so we hurried down. But I had another cell reception window and was able to check that after the rain all day today, next 2 days looked really good. Weather finally caught up to us near the bottom - the forecast for a 3-hour window was correct.

Rose on the descent
Rain is coming
Rose on the slabs
Wet slabs were no fun, but we made it down somehow
Our objective for tomorrow - hopefully it will dry out a bit

The rest of the day was spent sleeping and recovering at camp, listening to rain. My clothes were going on the 2nd day of staying wet and I was out of battery charge as my Goal Zero solar panel wasn't charging. We were waiting for the storm system to pass and for the sun to re-appear, which wasn't supposed to happen until 7pm that evening.

Day 8 - Wham via Center Shift (5.7 R) and Graystone

~3,000 ft ascent, ~6 miles, 12 hours

Finally it was the day we were all looking forward to. We had the gear, weather was perfect, we were rested, so it was a go time. I've done the Wham ridge 2x before, and was curious to check out Center Shift this time. Giving rock some time to dry, we left camp around 7 am with the bluebird forecast for the day.

Wham in the morning sun
Shawn soloing the initial section
Me and Rose simul- climbing (photo by Shawn)
Top of simulclimbing, first belay station

Shaw soloed first few hundred feet, while me and Rose simul-climbed it, and I established the first belay at the prominent-looking dihedral. Cracks that looked great from the distance, mostly turned out to be pretty shallow and dirty, pro pretty scarce and requiring some creative placements, but the climbing was fairly easy. My 70 m rope was perfect for the job and I tried to run the whole length of it with every pitch. Shawn was tied in the middle and Rose did the important job of cleaning the route. We only got 1 nut stuck (entirely my fault, but it made for a bomber belay!)

Me starting the 2nd pitch (photo by Shawn)
Looking down from 2nd pitch - Rose belaying
2nd pitch belay

Initially, we were making great time, but the upper section took more time due to route finding. Once we merged with the standard Class 4 route, we started simulclimbing again, picking a more direct line versus zig-zagging trying to find an easier bypass. We finally topped out around 3pm.

Upper section
Weminuche views

Rose needed to hike out the same day, so we kept moving. Me and Rose took the standard route, while Shawn found a shortcut, and we met about 1k feet below on the trail.

Hike down
Graystone (L) and Arrow (R)

Once at the Vestal-Arrow saddle around 4pm, out paths split. I still needed to tag Graystone, while guys went back to camp. I said good-byes to Rose and thanked her for making such day possible. It was her birthday too! After that I left rope at the saddle, really hoping it wouldn't be of interest to marmots, and made my way to the Arrow-Graystone saddle for my last peak of the trip.

Fun ridge up Graystone
on the ridge

I was tired, so staying ridge proper with some Class 3-4 scrambling was more tiring than I would have liked. I found much easier route on the way back. Hour and a half after leaving the Vestal-Arrow saddle I was on the summit, and it had reception! I double-checked the weather for tomorrow and enjoyed the Weminuche views one more time. This was my last summit in the "core" Weminuche. Sure, there are 5 more ranked peaks across the Animas and a few more past Rio Grande Pyramid, but I felt this was the culmination of the last 8 years and 7 multi-day 13er peakbagging trips since 2013.

View west to the false summit.

View to the false summit made me glad we didn't go for Graystone 3 days earlier as getting over that false summit at the end of a long day would have been heart-breaking :) Sadly, Delorme didn't record the data between 5 and 6 pm, so all I have are summit photos. There was a summit cairn, but no register. I forgot to bring headlamp, so I knew I had limited time to get down before dark, and quarter to 6pm I started the descent. I was able to find a much more straightforward, class 3 way down, bypassing most difficulties to my right.

Electric and the views to the north
Ruby, Noname and Tenmile creek drainages
Graystone ridge and Arrow on the way back
Ridge traverse back with a shadow selfie
Vestal and Arrow lake on the hike back

Traverse back to the Vestal-Arrow saddle, even with uphill, took only an hour and I found my rope left intact by marmots (whew!). I was so glad I still had daylight, as I was able to follow cairns and a familiar trail with no issues, arriving back to camp an hour later. Now I really wished we took this descent route from Electric/Garfield a few days ago!

Descent back to camp
Waning light on Wham

Day 9 - Hikeout to Molas pass

~1,800 ft ascent, ~2,700 descent, ~10 miles, 7 hours

We finally ran out of peaks to hike, so next morning, Shawn and I leisurely packed up the camp and started the hikeout by 10 am. The packs were again heavy - he got to carry the 70m rope (8 lb), and I had the rack (about the same). Immediately after leaving camp, we ran into some people in Vestal basin - another backpacker and a trail runner. I've been on this trail several times now, but it's always an eye-opener - it's really steep going down to the Elk creek.

Vestal trail shenanigans
Creek crossing
Back at the ponds
Still no moose

I was so looking forward to smooth sailing on CT until Animas, but then this happened:

Elk creek trail avy debris
Elk creek trail avy debris

We had to navigate 3 avy debris fields, which slowed us down. I also managed to stumble under the heavy pack and to scrape my elbow and thigh on splinters. I hope it gets cleaned up, because it's pretty dangerous to navigate with heavy packs. But eventually we made it down to the Animas, and took a lunch break. I ate my last pack of ramen noodles and a large gu. All was left were 1,800 feet up to the Molas pass and the car. Trail side berries slowed me down a bit, and Shawn kept saying that I was robbing the bears :) But I think if bears don't eat the berries, they will go bad, so it's all fair game for hikers.

Garfield B as seen from train tracks
Crossing the Animas
Wild blueberries by the trail
Grenadiers and Electric, Graystone and Garfield from Molas pass trail
The End

This was another great Weminuche trip (my 9th overall since 2011, including 2 14er trips). Thanks Shawn and Rose for making it all possible. I entered Weminuche in 2013 as a dazed and confused 13er noob, and leaving with great appreciation for this special place, having developed much better route finding and trad leading skills. I will cherish great memories and look forward to repeats, as those are some of the finest peaks in our great state of Colorado.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Comments or Questions

10/03/2019 12:24
Such amazing pictures! My hands actually got sweaty when looking at a few of them! Thanks a lot for posting this, it's definitely one of my favorite trip reports that I've stumbled upon!


Good Call on Trinity Pass
10/03/2019 12:43
Thanks for all the great pix! That looks like an amazing adventure. And your interesting route selection looks like it kept some of those climbs pretty exciting. From your topo it looks like you went across Trinity Pass on the northern side of the pass. When John and I climbed it in 2015 we climbed the southernmost gully from Grizzly Gulch to get started on East Trinity. That was one of the scariest climbs I've done on very loose rock. On our return after the Trinity Traverse, we climbed the northern side of the pass. While that wasn't exactly pleasant, it was much better and safer than the southern side of the pass. Thanks for a great report!


10/03/2019 15:52
Thanks for sharing!


10/03/2019 18:29
Sweet Trip. Day six seems simply divine in the middle of this epic adventure. What a fortuitous rain storm, providing guilt free rest! Thanks.


Beautiful Photos
10/03/2019 22:57
Very inspirational trip! SO MUCH TO DO!


Thank you
10/04/2019 06:58
Iâm so grateful I was able to join for part of your adventure, great bday present!

Thank You
10/04/2019 07:16
You traveled through some of my most favorite mountain routes. I haven't been in this area since the 80s and not sure I will get back there again. Your photo of the chimney brings back memories as I have a photo that looks just like it from 1971.

10/04/2019 10:38
I don't think that I have ever seen something so pretty. Just beautiful. I will have to go there sometime. Awesome report

10/04/2019 15:36
Major work!


Great [photos
10/04/2019 19:07
Natalie, what phone did you buy? Great shots!
Envious of your trip...looked awesome!

10/05/2019 14:24
Way to clean out the best part of Colorado's best wilderness in style. It reminds me that I still need to make another trip or two across the Animas Trench for my last few Grenadier outliers.


Some people climb mountains...
10/06/2019 18:36
And then you CLIMB mountains. Lizard Head can't be far off. Congrats on finishing the Weminuche.

Grizzly Adams

10/06/2019 19:33
Who's this Roach guy you speak of?? There are many ways to the top of a mountain and by now I'm pretty sure you know which way I'm going to try first We've had some pretty epic trips over the years but I'd have to say that this one takes the cake. Traveling through some of my favorite mountains and climbing them by the best routes possible is something I've been looking forward to for a long time and now it's over I'll be getting back out there soon to do most of them again though and look forward to having a bad ass little woman with a giant pack along to let me know just how far off route I am ;) Thank you Rose/Angry for hauling in that gear and cleaning up behind me, good luck on getting the rest of your peaks!


10/08/2019 09:43
Thanks so much for comments! I loved how you zeroed in on some things that made this trip so special. It's amazing when everything just fall into place.

@Hoot - route selection was great, and I really have to give full credit to Shawn for leading the scrambles and scouting the backpacking route over the Trinity pass. It's up there with Jagged pass and Twin Thumbs pass - i.e. extreme backpacking.

@Wombat - the weather. I still can't believe how awesome it was. We needed that day of rest!

@Justiner - thanks for the comment, it means a lot coming from you! Sadly, no biking in the wilderness.

@Rose - it was great to have you, keep crushing! Thanks again for hauling all that gear in, you rock!

@D_baker - I got Samsung Galaxy s10 lite (smallest in the Galaxy series so it can fit on my pockets). Really big upgrade in quality from my older Samsung phone. I was still learning the features and it slowed us down as I only got it 5 days before the trip. The main issue was pocket dialing due to extreme screen sensitivity, but I think I finally figured it out.

@Seano - thanks for the comment, Shawn and I talked about your inspirational linkups. What took us a week, takes you what, a day?

@DarcyS - Lizard Head is definitely on the radar. I don't think I can lead it (yet), so I am hoping for Jbchalk to take me up there as soon as he stops lapping Capitol. And thanks

@Grizzly - what can I say? Great taste in route choices and I am glad you overruled my boring "let's do just the 5 peaks I need" agenda. If we're going to haul our packs that far, we should climb something fun. You really have grown into an awesome scrambler over the last few years and your route finding is on point. Really need to get you on a rope more! Climb on.

@Easy Rider - Wemi looks a bit different without snow, huh? Thanks for sharing your photos from this spring, it's the next level.

Easy Rider

10/07/2019 21:36
Big big days! Good Job!


10/09/2019 22:01
I enjoyed seeing your stellar routes up these imposing peaks in what has to be one of the more enchanting places on the planet. Arenât those slabs fun! Inspiring crescendo for a Grenadier finish!


10/11/2019 21:14
are fun Was going into the trip expecting cracks, but it was mostly slabs...Glad I climbed them a lot this summer. Thanks for the comment Steve, you're Grizzly Adams idol.

@Tornadoman: thanks Andrew! It's a long read for sure 🤣


Grizzly Adams
10/10/2019 22:18
No way, Natalie! Heâs my idol: a ridge rambler, POMRanian, alpine aesthetist who scouts these remote basins. Iâve got some more forays into the western Weminuche ahead of me, and I pay attention to the routes you two have done.


10/11/2019 09:46
This made for great airport reading during a flight delay a few days ago. It's even better with full sized pictures on a real computer screen! Thanks for posting and hope you enjoy the desert.


02/16/2020 21:42
Just breathtaking. Thanks for taking us along and great work.


03/25/2020 16:18
Congrats Natalie on finishing all the Weminuche peaks. I have enjoyed ALL of your trip reports in that beautiful area, and used some of your information when planning those trips. Love your passion when you talk about it, as I also do think that it is some of the best!

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