Photo
Mt. Eolus
standard Northeast Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Needleton
Start:11,100 feet
Summit:14,087 feet
Total Gain:3,100' starting at Chicago Basin
6,100' starting at Needleton TH
RT Length:6 miles starting at Chicago Basin
18 miles starting at Needleton
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:8/2022
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:88 reports
Cell Signal:8 reports
Sheriff:La Plata: 970-247-1157
Forest:San Juan
Wilderness:Weminuche
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Campgrounds:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Drive to Durango and follow signs to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It's near McDonald's and has a large parking area nearby. Buy a ticket for the train that stops at Needleton and ride the train 2.5 hours (~30 miles) to the Needleton stop. From here, it's a 6 mile hike to reach Chicago Basin.

Route

To reach Chicago Basin, use the Approach Page. From your camp in Chicago Basin, hike northeast toward the end of the basin on the great trail - 1. Near 11,200', turn left toward Twin Lakes at a signed junction - 2. This trail is used to reach Windom, Sunlight, and Eolus. Continue up through the forest ( 3) to an area where the trail is a bit difficult to follow over and around some rock slabs - 4. Near 11,400', leave the trees where you have a great view of two streams on the slope below Twin Lakes - 5. Walk to 11,700' and cross the first stream before swinging right and switchbacking up steeper terrain - 6. Continue to the second stream crossing, near 12,300' - 7. Haul a bit higher to reach Twin Lakes, near 12,500' - 8 and 9.

Near the first lake, locate the Eolus trail which splits off to the left and follow it down to the stream at the end of lake. Cross the stream, walk past some rock slabs and continue west - 10. Traverse around some cliffs to your right until you can see Eolus' summit ahead - 12. Near 13,300', the trail swings left and enters a boulder field. Follow the step-filled, rock trail through the boulder field ( 13) until it exits the boulder field near 13,400'. Continue a bit higher to the base of a ledge/ramp that climbs right out of the basin - 14. There should be a cairn at the entrance. Studying 13 will help you identify this area and find the correct ramp. Turn right and climb northeast on the Class 2 ramp - 15. There are a couple of sections that require careful movement across angled slabs but the difficulty should not exceed Class 2. At the top of the ramp, continue north on easier terrain to reach a flat area, east of the connecting ridge between Eolus and North Eolus.

Your next goal is to gain the Eolus-North Eolus ridge to the west - 16. Locate a notch in the ridge just above a short, steep, green chute. It's best to hit the ridge at or near this notch. While there are several ways to reach the ridge, the most direct approach is to climb the green chute - 17. Some easier terrain is off to the right, which involves zigzagging up angled slabs. After some brief Class 3 climbing, reach the notch near 13,850' - 18 and 19. Turn left, climb over a bump on the ridge and descend slightly to reach the "Catwalk," a narrow section along the ridge. Most of the Catwalk is Class 2 but there are a few easy Class 3 moves required along the way. Carefully scramble onto the Catwalk and continue toward Eolus - 20 and 21. After the Catwalk, reach easier terrain below the final summit pitch - 22.

The remaining 250+ feet to the summit requires plenty of route-finding and Class 3 scrambling. The northeast ridge is directly above but the easiest route to the summit is by climbing the east face, just left of the ridge. Turn left and traverse under rock walls on the east face - 23. Once you've traversed approx. half way across the face, begin zigzagging up ledges - 24. As you climb higher, the terrain gets steeper, but still Class 3. Even with dry conditions care must be taken on the narrow ledges - 25 and 26. Gain the summit ridge ( 27) and scramble over to the top - 28 and 29.

Notes

Climb all the way to the lake before turning left to locate the Eolus trail. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Weminuche Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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