Peak(s):  San Luis Peak  -  14,014 feet
Date Posted:  08/01/2010
Modified:  12/03/2010
Date Climbed:   08/01/2010
Author:  Markwise
 Chicagoans Loving It on San Luis  

Not sure what others really think of San Luis, but our group loved the hike. If you're looking for the technical excitement of the Crestones you won't find it here. But if you're looking for great views of the San Juans, and Sangres, wonderful wildflower meadows, and a true feeling of the wilderness, then this is your peak. San Luis was the perfect follow-up for our group after having done DeCaLiBro yesterday and having run into 300+ people.

We left Frisco around 7pm to head for Stewart Creek. We got rained on the entire drive till we left CO114. Driving Monarch Pass in the rain was a fright as the mixture of rain and fog made visibility near zero. This was then coupled with the danger of rock fall on the road. After all this fun we finally hit the dirt roads heading for Stewart Creek. This is one long drive. We hit the trailhead and parked along the road around midnight. We decided to shoot for 4:30am as a departure time to beat any of the predicted bad weather.

WEATHER: No rain. Near clear skies till about 6am. A thin cloud deck formed above us and most of the general vicinity. As we neared the summit the clouds near us became darker but no rain was happening. As we descended things clear some for an hour.

CROWDS: Saw 13 people on the trail today. Met a great couple from Illinois whom we shared the summit with. Met another fascinating man who hiked up from the south and met us on the summit. He'd done all the CO traverses.

TRAIL BETA: This is truly a classic class 1 trail. Quite easy to follow from start to finish. Even the last 700 feet of the trail on the rocks was well defined and easy going. Only troubles with the trail came in the upper portion of the basin as the trail is right next to the upper part of Stewart Creek. The trail was washing out in parts and as it went above the creek one last time on the grass, the trail was muddy and we couldn't avoid getting our shoes a little wet.

TIME: We summited in 3 hours 37 minutes. Descent was 2 hours 50 minutes.

I took a GPX track of our hike on my Nokia N800 with Maemo Mapper. I'm happy to share that here (you'll find it matches up nearly identical to the GPX provided here on, this is a testament to how clear this trail is):

The full moon we had lighting up camp a few nights ago is now waning. Still makes for a pretty sight in the early morning.

As the sun first hits the trees and meadows along Stewart Creek, its an awesome sight.

The colors of the basin and skies in the early morning were just spectacular.

This is your first view of San Luis Peak. For most of the hike you will be seeing Baldy Alto at the west end of the basin. At a few points such as this you can see San Luis poking its head above the ridge.

Looking east to the valley provides an amazing sight of low-hanging clouds, sunlight, and mountains on the horizon.

This is on the saddle at 13400 before the summit push for San Luis. The remaining route involves skirting the south side of the 13000ft point to the summit ridge and then crossing to the NW side of the ridge for the final ascent.

Looking to the west at Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre

Myself on the summit of San Luis. It was *COLD*. I'd already been on Harvard/Columbia and DeCaLiBro this week and met cool, but manageable temps. On San Luis? Well someone had a thermometer that read low 40s. Brrr.

The wildflower meadows were abundant in the upper parts of the basin. Just amazing.

Did I mention the abundance of wildflowers?

Thanks for reading my report. San Luis is truly a wonderful hike for the wilderness lover! Wish we'd seen more wildlife out there.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

agree on all points
08/02/2010 19:16
Together with Handies, San Luis is one of the few technically easy 14ers where you won't have to deal with crowds; I loved it. The 40 miles of dirt roads is just plain weird. Sorry it was so cold, but that's this year's weather for you! You say the trail is easy to follow: Is there now a decent bridge where you have to cross the creek? (We had to build our own!)


08/03/2010 08:08
Just natural bridges for the creek crossings. Water may be low this year, the crossings were no problem with various rock steps in the creek.

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