Peak(s):  Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
Date Posted:  10/31/2009
Modified:  11/19/2009
Date Climbed:   10/22/2009
Author:  unclegar

 White Snow, Blue Sky, Redcloud and Sunshine  

Redcloud Pk:14034 Sunshine Pk:14001 – Northeast Ridge from Silver Creek – Oct 22, 2009 – unclegar

I had intended to meet with hobo13 and jf32 of for this climb but ended up leaving Denver Wednesday night at a very late 9:15pm after a dinner engagement. The weather on the way to Lake City was foggy and icy and slowed my travel considerably. After reaching Lake City, I decided to drive up County Rd 30 some of the 16 mi. toward the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch TH but to stop short of the TH so I would not disturb them when I arrived. There was NO way I was going to be getting up in time for our agreed 6:30am departure. I pulled off the road at 4:15am and set the alarm for 8:30am in hopes of getting about 4 hours of sleep before finishing the drive and following behind them on the trail. I woke up at 7:30am and started the drive to the TH. I was greeted with some awesome views of the area after the recent snowfall.

Waking views.


There were restrooms at the parking area and the Grizzly Gulch TH was next to them. I crossed the street and started up from the Silver Creek TH toward Redcloud and Sunshine, signing in at 9:15am. There was fresh snow as I expected and I was glad to have footsteps to follow. The first part went through some woods with several open areas between the trees. The views were outstanding with blue sky and snow covered peaks in every direction. After a while the trail paralleled a stream that was to the right.

A short distance up the trail. Gaiters and microspikes served me well all day.

Out of the woods. The trail turns to the right before the peaks in the distance.


The view behind was just as awesome. Handies just right of center. Great day in the San Juans.

The trail just before turning to the right (SE) ahead of the peaks in the distance.

The snow began to get deeper and I was again grateful for the steps to follow.

Approaching Redcloud's NE ridge where the trail turns right and roughly follows the ridge.

On top of the saddle. Redcloud on the left.

Looking back. The trail came through this valley.

At the top of the saddle you turn right and follow along the ridge. There is a sign that says "TRAIL" with an arrow pointing right, so I followed the footsteps that circled toward the right and slowly worked up the scree as they continued around the slope. At some point I decided to just go straight up the slope. The ice ax was invaluable for this approach. I think the scree was probably better with some snow on it than it would have been without it, but it was still scree. The pitch is pretty steep here and I had to take care to have good support from the ax before stepping. The route description says this is the crux of the route and I would have to agree.

Looking West while ascending the steep scree slope.

Looking East. Again beautiful views in all directions.

Mostly up the scree slope I returned to the ridge top. Redcloud is in view again.

A look back down the slope to the saddle.

A closer look down to the saddle.

Once on top of the scree slope to the false summit, Redcloud was just a short walk up the next ridge.

Once on the summit of Redcloud I took a break and got a bite to eat. I could see two people coming back from Sunshine toward the summit of Redcloud who I correctly assumed were hobo13 and jf32. I could also see the entire route to Sunshine from the Redcloud summit. You generally stay on the left side of the ridge until the final summit push where you stay slightly right of the ridge.

From Redcloud looking back at Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre.

Ridge to Sunshine.

We made introductions and I thanked them for the steps, but we knew I was pushing it for time so we didn't spend too long talking and I was off to Sunshine. Sunshine lived up to its name and I had no threat of clouds all day.

On the trail to Sunshine the cliff bands and snow were picturesque.

I made good time to the summit due to the steps that had already been forged.

Footprints in the snow.

Similar to Redcloud, the summit of Sunshine was just a short walk up the next ridge.

The summit of Sunshine ahead.

I didn't spend too much time on the summit of Sunshine either. On the way over I had assessed the West side of the ridge between Redcloud and Sunshine and had decided to go down once past the cliff bands. I went a little farther toward Redcloud after the initial cliffs and then carefully angled down until I could continue to the bottom without getting into the cliffs. I aimed for the woods that would reunite me with the trail back.

View down the West side of the ridge with woods in the distance.

I followed the stream at the bottom until it came to a tee with the stream that was initially on the right of the trail. I used gps tracking to make sure I was taking the right line. I had hoped this would save enough time to get me back to the flat trail on the other side of the stream by dark. I glissaded as much as possible and was able to avoid the cliffs. I reached the tee at the stream just before dark. I had packed the camera away before glissading so I have no pics of this part. I shed some layers and pumped water at the stream and by the time I was done it was already getting dark. I was ready for the final leg of the trip with my headlamp and lots of water. I returned to the sign-out station at about 8:30pm and then let hobo13 and jf32 know that I was back. This was my first trip to the San Juans and I have to agree that they are definitely some of the prettiest mountain I have seen. Of course, the snowfall followed by blue skies makes a view that is hard to beat on any mountain range.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

10/31/2009 21:45
Thanks for writing this up - it was a fun day to be out in the mountains.

Brian C

Nice job.
08/23/2010 14:48
Looks like fun! Just makes me want to go down there...

Ute Bill

what he said
11/01/2009 02:31
what saxmotor said.

makes me want to be there...


11/01/2009 13:14
for posting this report. nice photos to! how were the road conditions up to the trailhead?


road conditions
11/01/2009 13:42
The road was no problem for my CRV. Basically snow-free. I don‘t know if they have received additional snowfall since then. If not, it should be no problem for something similar to a CRV. If you want to continue on the road to the American Basin TH for Handies, the road is considerably worse. The CRV would not have made that.


Wish I weren‘t in Cinci!!
06/02/2011 14:57
Got your message the other day about this... congrats on the climb. You must be close to being ”done”. Don‘t finish till we can get out again together... unless you agree to do some repeats! Hope to be back in December so get your warm weather system dialed in so we can get out. Even if it‘s to RMNP for some snow shoeing.

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