Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Date Posted:  07/22/2009
Date Climbed:   07/19/2009
Author:  3mtnlabbie
 Redcloud & Sunshine Peaks  

Climbing folks:
Me (3mtnlabbie)
Andrew (mr3mtnlabbie)
Marmaduke (yellow lab)
Finnigan (chocolate lab)
Casidy (black lab)

We headed out a bit before 7am from the trail head and the parking lot was about 1/3 full. I was actually really surprised at how long it took to drive to the trail head from Lake City where we stayed the night before hand.

This was the first shot we had of clearance after breaking from most of the trees on the beginning of the great trail.

Because the trail starts to the west of the mountains, you are hiking in the shade and it takes quite a while for sun to actually hit you.

Looking back west where the sun was finally hitting. It was absolutely beautiful and really did make our first trip to the San Juans just amazing.

I didn't take a photo but there was a tent pitched at about 12,200' before a huge pond on a pretty flat spot. I think they were actually still sleeping when we passed and it had to be at least 8:30 by then.

There were also some very LARGE marmonts along the hike that were barking like it was going out of stile. Thank goodness my labbies could care less about wildlife!

This is a view just before you hit the ridge between Redcloud and the mountain to the west of it. You can see the trail lead to the right along the ridge before you started to climb the face.

And a great look at the false summit and actual summit (to the left) of Redclud as you climbed.

We decided to not stop at the first summiting of Redcloud but press on to Sunshine and take our break there. The views were simply amazing and a bit of cloud cover was starting to accumulate as we summited Sunshine.

Here is a view from Sunshine looking back at Redcloud to the north west and about two false summits on the way back.

We actually ran into some people that we saw at the trail head while heading up to Sunshine. They took the "route 3" if you look at routes on 14ers for Sunshine. They said the last 1000' vertical feet of scree absolutely sucked, period. We also talked with a really nice guy named Eric that is a grad student in New Mexico that said he had read that trying to descend form Sunshine was like a death wish... We were happy about the advice from everybody else on 14ers to go back to Redcloud and descend the way we came.

Because of the could accumulation we decided to put a spark in the step and get moving back to Redcloud to take our lunch.

I'll call this the "death wish path"...

When you finally reach the true saddle between Sunshine and Redcloud there are actually two really well defined paths. We chose the one that hung to the left as it looked like a slow but steady climb to resummit Redcloud. After talking with a Boulder couple we leap-frogged with the entire climb, they took the higher one and said they didn't enjoy it nearly as much.

I found the walk from Sunshine to Redcloud actually quite nice. I am SUPER slow but consistent with my slow speed and this was actually quite refreshing. The top of Redcloud is just too cool. Everything got covered in red dirt, including our dogs!

When we were headed down the ridge of Redcloud we actually passed two groups that were just headed up. Talk about a late start. We advised them about the weather and not more than 5 minutes later I stopped to put on my rain gear. We moved a bit faster than I would have preferred coming off the ridge as it is steep and the dirt is loose to say the least. Our pups enjoyed their snow treat in a Colorado July.

Coming out of the "valley" heading down the path you pass a great pond that our pups took a dip in. We kept moving as you can obviously see the weather that was still getting ready to form. The views were simply amazing!

Much further on our return to the trail head there is a place where the path splits because of I believe an avalanche a while ago. The actual trail that continues along the river is now passable and when we hiked up we took the high trail because we didn't know if we would be able to pass. Upon inspection on our way up we did deem the lower path passable and took it on the way home. It was actually quite the sight to see and very beautiful. You only need to be aware that it isn't exactly 100% cleared because of all the debris the avalanche brought down with it.

And the part of the path that is in the trees is just simply stunning, enjoyable, and beautiful all at once. I loved this hike!

I'm the driver when the road is a bit iffy and the report stating that the road to the trail head is a shelf road isn't a lie! This is a view of how much exposure there is on the road. The road is in decent condition and you just need to be in control.

Total time 9:45
12 miles
4,800' vertical

My - 13th & 14th 14ers
mr3mtnlabbie's - 12th & 13th
Marmaduke's - 7th & 8th
Finnigan's - 10th & 11th
Casidy's - 7th & 8th

 Comments or Questions

07/23/2009 16:01
Photos and TR - glad to hear you enjoyed it!


Best Report of the Dozen I Read
05/24/2010 22:00
I am planning the Red Cloud, Sunshine combo this summer. Your‘s is the best report that convinces me saving 2 miles in exchange for scree hell is not worth it. We‘ll do the ”there and back again.” Thanks. Vort.

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