Peak(s):  Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,082 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Date Posted:  07/16/2010
Date Climbed:   07/07/2010
Author:  globreal
 Eolus and North Eolus before the rain  

Chicago Basin Climbs: Day #1
Mt. Eolus: 14,083 Route: Chicago Basin (Standard)
North Eolus: 14, 039 Route: Chicago Basin (Standard)

Crew: The Michigan Flatlanders: Len, John, Brad, Mark, Steve,
and Robert from St. Louis...and me, Britt (globreal)
Climb date: Wednesday, July 07, 2010
Start Time: 4:40am
End Time: 1:08pm
Total Time: 9 1/2 hours (total hiking/climbing/summit time)
Trip Length: 6 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,000 feet

Note: I put together a little trip report that shows the "approach" into Chicago Basin. You can view that mini-TR here if interested:


After we all got to camp Tuesday evening, we set up our tents and ate dinner. Then we discussed the plans for the morning. I got a little flack when I asked for a start time of 4am. After a few groans and moans, I acquiesced and gave in for a later start time...."okay,'s that?"

After climbing numerous 14ers, I've learned the value of an alpine beat the afternoon thunderstorms. When you've got a good trail to follow, it doesn't hurt to hike the first few miles by headlamp.

It took us an hour and a half (with a few rest stops) to get from camp at 11,100 up to the Twin Lakes plateau at 12,500.

The view at Twin Lakes up towards our objective...Mt. Eolus in the alpine glow.

The Michigan Flatlanders and Robert from St. Louis (red helmet) are staying strong even though they were practically at sea level just a few hours before.

And did you notice the wild flowers? July is a good time to be in the Chicago Basin. These little guys are sooo tiny.

At about 600 feet above the Twin Lakes at an elevation of about 13,200, we found the low-angled, "ramp" that heads NE up to right away from the Eolus summit.

This takes us up to the saddle between Eolus and North Eolus. And alas, to the infamous "catwalk." I had heard that this has some serious exposure to it and so I was a bit apprehensive. My little buddy Eric, basically said, "don't worry about it, it's not that bad." As it turned out, most of this catwalk was several feet (like 6 feet) wide and therefore, wasn't bad.

Looking back, here come Steve and Robert over the high portion of the catwalk,

Len seems to be enjoying himself here.

And it's after the catwalk that things get steep. Steve is making good on this Class 3 rock.

After a good amount of scrambling up this steeper rock climb, we made it to the saddle to the west of the summit. Then on this final pitch, it's a short hop over to the true summit. Here is Steve, Len, and Mark coming on up.

I reached the top of Eolus at 9:10am, about 4 hours since we left camp. The summit marker with Sunlight and Windom in the background across the Twin Lakes Basin.

Len was quite jubilant to have made it!

Robert gets there and hugs the "top rock."

Brad giving the summit pose.

Arrow Peak and Vestal Peak to the north.

Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak to the east.

Someone standing on North Eolus.

It was good that 7 out of 8 of us climbed to the 14,083 foot summit of Eolus today. And it was 10am when we started down.

After down climbing that front face of Eolus, we made it back to the catwalk.

After we crossed the catwalk, we found the spot where we had stashed our poles and ice axes....and off scurry the marmots. Crap! I forgot about that...they like the neoprene handles! I remembered you don't leave them out at camp....but I forgot up on the peak. Steve found the chunks missing from his brand new, shiny trekking poles!

And here is the fat and full marmot basking in the sun digesting his lunch!

Oh, well, it's off to the next peak...North Eolus.

After climbing Eolus, this ridge up to North Eolus is really easy and takes only about 10 minutes to reach the top. We got there at 10:53am which is pretty quick after leaving Eolus.

Mark, (you can see him in photo 19) had taken a nasty spill on his road bike and had to have surgery on his thumb just days before. Rock climbing with a hand in a cast post-surgery....doesn't feel good. So, he decided not to climb up to the top of this one.

And it's probably a good thing. As the San Juans are known for....afternoon thunderstorms. And here they come even though it's only 11:00am. We start down quickly by 11:15am.

And we hadn't even gotten back to the Twin Lakes before the sky is falling. John is smart and kept his helmet on!

Why not, it's good protection from the grapple...those hail pellets.

With the grapple, which turned to rain as we got lower, we moved pretty quickly back to camp, arriving at 1:08. Less than 2 hours after leaving the summit of North Eolus.

It proceeded to rain on and off the rest of the afternoon. Glad I brought a book to read for the tent time.

If you want to check out the trip report for our next day climbing Windom and Sunlight, go here:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Alpine Start
02/05/2011 00:22
Good thing, eh? If these mountains could be climbed safely with 9:00 departures, everyone would be doing them.

I felt that Eolus past the catwalk was some pretty tricky stuff. I have difficulty calling that class 3 while North Maroon is class 4.

Loving the TRs, can‘t wait to read about Sunlight/Windom!


Chicago Basin
07/16/2010 14:23
Nice job on these, Britt :-) Looks like all that rock climbing out at RRCOS has paid off - you‘re knocking off the more scrambly peaks no problem! The great thing about leaving Chicago Basin is knowing there are still all those great 13ers in there to come back to, or as Styx would say, ”I‘m makin‘ my way back to chicago - I‘m makin‘ my way come rain or shine.” Good luck on the rest... I suspect there are more grand adventures ahead for you this summer.


Beautiful ...
07/16/2010 16:09
This is such a pretty basin ... and your pictures certainly do it justice. I love those teeny tiny flowers ... I‘m looking at them all the time ... of course, I‘m short, so they‘re easily viewed by me. Glad you had such success with these peaks (especially for those traveling so far). Thanks for posting. Happy trails!


Arrow & Vestal
11/30/2010 17:28
Nice job Brit!
I would love to get in there in the summer for a different experience from the snow climbs I did on them in May.

BTW...Your pic of "Animas" and "Moniter" looks like Arrow Peak and Vestal (l. to r.) to me.


Arrow & Vestal
07/16/2010 17:18
Okay, I‘m takin‘ your word for it and changed the names in the TR. Looking on a map, I thought they were to far away to be those. But what do I know?


Good stuff
07/16/2010 17:57
Enjoyed both your Chicago Basin TRs. Especially liked pics 12 (good dimension) and 22 (good chuckle). You‘re closing in...


Premium Day!
07/17/2010 04:33
Again - absolutely beautiful how you captured the experience with the lens Britt!


Beautiful climbs, Britt!
09/06/2010 06:13
Fabulous photos of an awesome adventure shared with fine friends on some marvelous really know how to put together a great trip! Congratulations on nabbing two Needles summits in a single day despite the rain. You've got the right stuff, dude!

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