Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Date Posted: 
Date Climbed:   07/03/2005
Author:  vinn
 July 3rd, 2005 from Silver Creek Trailhead  

(this is continued from a description of Handies, which we climbed the previous day)

The next day we woke up and headed to the Silver Creek trailhead to climb Redcloud and Sunshine. Once again we had a late start, but we made up for it by keeping a brisk pace. The trail circles around Redcloud and follows Silver Creek most of the way. As you break out of the trees on the north side of Redcloud the trail takes a wide sweeping turn toward the ridgeline. Once again, the trail has great switchbacks and you can ascend quickly. There are warnings in various books of the last bit up the ridge being terrible, but you can safely ignore them. The new trail switchbacks into the mountain and then up past the worst parts of the ridge. The final 1/4 mile is a walk up over easy slopes.

Weather was rolling in and we decided not to spend much time on top of Redcloud. Wed been staring at most of the scenery on the climb up anyway. So we hit the trail to head over to Sunshine. The trail drops steadily about 500 over the course of a mile. The final bit of Sunshine regains much of this altitude over the course of about 1/4 mile. We stopped on the summit for quite a while and watched storms breaking in every direction around us. Our friend picking up the rear of the party arrived after about a half hour. He hung out for a few minutes and then we all decided to head down.

We headed back down the trail to the bottom of the final pitch up Sunshine. From there a cairn pointed toward a trail heading down. We had been watching other groups heading down the snow into South Fork and decided that was a much easier route than returning over Redcloud. Note: theres another route into this drainage down a crappy talus field and a forest service sign advises you not to go that way. Id have to agree - heading down that talus slope is about the worst way to get down. However, we headed down this other trail we found and it met up with several chutes heading down through a cliff band.

We chose the first chute we saw only because we could spot the entire length down. Without snow, it might be difficult to get down that way. We headed left into the chute and the cut to the right side of it about halfway through (30 vertical feet?). We hugged the right side of the chute before venturing out onto the snow and sliding down several hundred feet. We continued to run and slide on snow for a mile or so. The snow ended around treeline and we were back on the main trail shortly after that. We passed some groups on the way down and Id guess we shaved about an hour off the trip by heading down South Fork. I wouldnt go that route unless there was snow, and unfortunately theres no way to spot the route from below. Youll have to use your own judgement whether you can safely get through those sections. Based on what we saw, I think the snow will be melted in a few weeks.

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