Peak(s):  Culebra Peak  -  14,047 feet
Date Posted:  07/05/2009
Date Climbed:   07/04/2009
Author:  Perea


This trip was extra special because I got a chance to visit my old stomping grounds the San Luis Valley & climb a 14er with my father who has overcome two major surgeries in the past year. Growing up west of San Luis in the town of Antonito I always admired the beauty of both Culebra and Blanca peaks. I always wondered what it would be like up there & how would the views be from up top. Today I would finally get to see those great vistas! I Jokingly threw the idea/challenge out to my father a couple weeks ago for father's day about climbing a easy to moderate 14er with me I would pay the $100 fee the ranch charged to climb on the private property if it was Culebra. To my surprise he took me up on it. He had regained much of his strength since having a kidney removed and having another major surgery back to back a year ago but was not 100% yet. After the two surgeries he lost over 20 pounds the family was really worried. Last year at this time he would not have even dreamed about doing anything strenuous much less climb a mountain over 14,000 ft. He said he would go as far as he could. I figured even if he just went for a mile or two and enjoyed getting some exercise and fresh air it would be a worthwhile adventure. He did much better than that he summited! Wow!

We drove to San Luis and to the town of Chama looking at Roaches trailhead description and were having trouble following the directions we took a wrong turn and both looked at each other and laughed. " I told him I thought you were a local and was supposed to know the area I'm sure people from Denver and the city come here and find it with no problems"! Finally we made it to the gate of the ranch I expected the gate to be much higher like 10,000 ft and in some pretty area that we could camp. It was not it was at about 9,000 ft next to a bunch of fields,chamiso's(sagebrush) & mooing cows. Great camping spot! I checked the gate and it was locked. We were uncertain what to do next when my dad said let's go ask at that house we passed on the way here. I was not crazy about the idea since the house looked like a scene from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre". We drove up to the house and a guy was under the hood of a 1967 GTO. The guy with long hair, red eyes who had looked as if he had just smoked a couple doobies of medical marijuana walked up to the car. Visions crossed my mind of some horror movie scenes. I was a little uneasy and my dad calm as always said "I came to claim my GTO that was stolen from me in 1970. The local guy looked at him like he was crazy pauses for a while then smiles. Once the guy felt comfortable with us he was cool. My dad can always diffuse a tense situation. Long story short he gave us the # to Carlos De Leon the ranch manager for Culebra and we were to meet him at the gate in 20 minutes. When we got there turns out Carlos knows my father and with some added confidence thinking maybe he will let us start earlier than 6 am I ask can we start at 5:30? No he replies. Another guy who had just arrived asked "can I take my bike up to the trailhead" another stern NO!
Carlos is a nice guy but very by the book. Don't try to bribe him or mess with his aggressive dog who almost bit someone while crossing the gate. Little by little cars started to fill up the area by the gate and set up tents I guess there was 20 people. It kind of looked like the rainbow family with our tent city. Everyone was very nice and we all had a good time and went to bed about 9:00. The cows made it a little difficult to sleep but as exhausted as I was from the Sand Dunes the same day I eventually fell asleep.

Here is our camp.
At 6 am sharp Carlos drives up to open the gate and we were off on the 7 mile road to the ranch office where we would pay our $100 fees.
It was weird standing in line to pay $100($200 for me) to climb a 14er. We were last in line and by the time it was our turn to pay Carlos had a stack of cash in hand and my dad said to Carlos "why don't I go with you to the bank instead of climbing". We were finally off to the trailhead a 7 am start was much later than I'm used to. I knew with our slow pace and chance of storms our chance of summiting were becoming less and less. I offered to carry as much weight as I could from my dad's pack to make it easier for him. Did I mention he is diabetic also and needs closely regulate his blood sugar.

The road was great and well maintained although steep.
This was a herd of elk here a few minutes earlier but I was too slow to get the camera out in time. None the less still a nice shot.
With the limited access to this mountain there is not a well defined trail so pick your route.
I was amazed how green and beautiful it was and flowers like this were all over.
We were taking our time and enjoying but I felt like we were moving about as fast as this Mountaineering lady bug.
I'm not a rock expert but these white rocks were everywhere.
Here is a look at the beginning of the ridge.
The friendly Marmots were everywhere waiting to attack an unattended backpack to grab the goodies.
Here is my dad making a science out of some class 2 scrambling. It's a full moon tonight!
Looking toward the Spanish Peaks you can't really see them to good because of the cloud cover.
The weather started to warm so I just chilled out literally.
Looking up at the false summit.
Looking back at the green valley below and Sanchez reservoir to the left.
This was my favorite view.
Finally we made the summit at about 10:30 am. There was no wind it was not cold and we hung out for 45 minutes. There was enough time to take some summit photos with some sparklers.
The Marmot looking over to make sure everyone paid the extra$50 fee to climb Red Mountain.
A first time glissade!
More great views on the way down.
After the climb we drove to Antonito where my lovely wife had some BBQ going for us hungry mountain men!
Congrats dad on overcoming and keep getting stronger!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

06/02/2011 14:57
What a special experience to do this with your dad! Very happy for both of you. Thanks for the great report.


07/06/2009 14:43
Glad you had a great day with your dad. Thanks for bringing the sparklers up. They made for some great 4th of July photos that everyone enjoyed seeing.


cha ching
07/06/2009 15:01
$200 bucks! Guess I won‘t be doing this one for a while, nice pics though.

Wyoming Bob

Congratulations x2
07/06/2009 19:31
I‘m with Devo on the congrats and thanks again for the sparklers. Culebra on Saturday was the end of the 14‘er trail for me so taking home a sparkler shot was a real bonus. I think you done good.


Excellent Report
07/29/2013 18:29
Excellent job, saw you on Culebra. Good to hear your story, and congrats on you both summiting!

What did your dad think of glissading?

Congrats to Wyoming Bob on finishing up the 14ers! What a great day to finish up on.


Great father and son time!
07/06/2009 22:35
Glad you guys made it - I‘m the guy from Denver with the Red Subaru - a great climb that day, as your pictures attest!


04/18/2014 19:27
Thanks everyone for a fun trip and the comments!

Golden Buffalo

Excellent Job!
07/07/2009 02:54
I‘m the guy in the Black Expedition (Glad to meet both Fred & Barney). Really, I‘m very happy for both of you on this, congratulations! It was nice to meet you.
It was a great day and you have some great photo‘s. thanks for sharing.


Great report! Great day on Culebra!
07/10/2009 17:35
Very nice report on your climb on the 4th! We were on the summit with you all, and you gave us the Sparkler! Thanks and congratulations to you and your Dad on making the climb!

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