Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Date Posted:  08/08/2007
Modified:  08/14/2007
Date Climbed:   08/04/2007
Author:  skier25

 Redcloud / Sunshine Standard Route - Exhausting Day  

This was an extremely exhausting day for me mostly because I was running low on sleep.

The day before we woke up at 4:00 AM and drove from Denver all the way down to Durango (via Ouray and Silverton because It's scenic and we're idiots for not calculating mileage correctly). We spent the day in Durango, and went back over the Coal Bank and Molas Pass to arrive in Silverton at 11:30 PM that night.

We woke up at 3:30 AM this time because we needed to get over Cinnamon Pass in order to get to the trailhead for Redcloud/Sunshine. We were driving an inept Acura MDX that has less than one foot of clearance. 4X4 HELL. Going up wasn't so bad, but going down, I saw the car tipping on one part and I slammed up against it, physically keeping the car from tipping over! Close call.

We did have a beautiful sunrise from the top of the pass though.

We finally made it to the bottom, and I started hiking at 9:00 AM (I know... I wasn't expecting on summiting though). Originally, I was going to head up 'Sundog' with a hiking partner I was supposed to meet at the trailhead. Instead, I chose to go up the standard route on Redcloud because I had a very late start, my partner had already headed up the ridge on Sundog, and I would have a quality trail to run back down in case of a thunderstorm.

As I was hiking, I noticed how green everything was. The wildflowers are definitely going crazy this year.


A picture of the aptly named Redcloud.

Because I was hiking with only 3 1/2 hours of sleep, I was so tired that once I hit the ridge, I was forced to 'rest step' the entire mountain. This trip really taught me that using the rest step truly does work.

I kept monitoring the weather, and even though it was overcast, it was holding for the better. I was ready to turn back at any moment.


Once I got to the summit, I was relieved that all the uphill hiking was done for a few seconds and I finally made radio contact with my hiking partner who was making his way up Sunshine's summit.

When I saw the weather on Sunshine, I waited 15 minutes before I deemed it safe to walk across the ridge for fear of rain and lightning. It wasn't a bad situation, though. At least, not yet, which is exactly what I was debating with myself.

When I got halfway down the ridge, the cloud hovering over Sunshine thankfully departed, but it was still very cloudy and I could see my partner (out of 3 people) on top of the ridge through the mist.


This sign made me very glad I had chosen not to go up both peaks through the South Fork Basin of Silver Creek (I'm also glad I didn't go up Sundog, which is in the picture, because that would have taken a long time - maybe when I'm not so tired):


I met up with my partner, and once I got to him, another small cloud had formed, and began to drizzle on us. It was very light rain, and no immediate danger except for slippery rocks. I waited another 15 minutes with my partner (who'd already summited Sunshine) for the rain to pass, because I didn't want to go any higher if it took a turn for the worst.

Well, the rain left and I continued up the summit of Sunshine. Once I got there, I signed the register, and left as soon as I screwed the cap back on.

I darted back down, and we started to hike back over Redcloud. I hated that, despite how easy the trail is! I was sooo tired.


Once we got to the top of Redcloud, we could see a rainstorm trucking fast across the mountians towards us from the Wetterhorn. It was headed straight for us, and we knew it was time to book it down the mountain. We still had heard no lightning, but that doesn't mean it can't strike, so we were basically running to get down. Who wants to take chances? Well we got halfway down the face of Redcloud, and it hit. Buckets of rain. I'm glad man has invented waterproof fabrics! We got off the saddle across the valley and it stopped, finally. We still hadn't seen any lightning though. Weird.

My partner taking a drink and filling his bottles from the gushing streams after the rain.


That day was huge for me. The terrible 4X4 Cinnamon Pass road before dawn, nearly tipping the car, and 13 miles with 5,000 feet of elevation gain in scary weather, all on only 3 1/2 hours of sleep. It was a long day.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions
Gabe K

Sunshine alternative Route
11/30/2010 17:20
You had the right idea going down Sunshine, except closer to the summit there is a rock cairn near what looks like a faint trail that works it's way down to sveral rock faces. If you folowed that trail and have gone to the right of the rock faces you would have reached the gully below no problem. Glad to hear that you got to experience Redcloud & Sunshine, I was there a week or two ago and thought it was an awesome hike. Lots of wildflowers and beautiful views.


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