OverviewThese two peaks are separated by a half mile and a minimum 336 ft. drop on the ridge between them. However, they share the same approach and are usually climbed together. They even look alike, from the west. Therefore, I have combined them on this peak page. Cyclone and Carbonate rise 2000 feet above the Cyclone Creek drainage, to the east. The climb and the descent are not as easy as it looks, because of a long, dense forest of willows on the approach, and an unending slope of unstable rocks above. But if you like solitude, good views of Sawatch fourteeners, and a chance to bag four peaks in a day, these are your mountains. Between 2001 and 2003, an average of 14 people per year signed the registers on Carbonate and Cyclone.
Carbonate Mountain is the higher summit, at 13,663' elevation. It lies directly west of Tabeguache Peak, in the southeastern section of the expansive Sawatch Range. Many of Carbonate's close neighbors are documented on SummitPost. Click on Nearby Mountains and Rocks, to the left. Cronin Peak, three humps to the north, is considered its "parent" (closest higher mountain). Cronin Peak was formerly known as North Carbonate. In this case the parent peak was named after the child! So... you can think of Carbonate as the ultimate "low-carb" mountain.
Cyclone tops out at 13,596', a half mile to the northwest of Carbonate. Cyclone Mountain must have been named for its conical shape and swirled appearance, from some angles. See photos.
Getting ThereThe shortest approach is from the Cyclone Creek trail.
Cyclone Creek Trailhead: The trailhead at 10,760' elevation provides access to Carbonate Mountain and Cyclone Mountain from the south and west. Drive 6 miles west on U.S. 50 from Poncha Springs. Turn north onto Chaffee County Road 240, which is well marked. Drive a little over 8 miles to the ghost town site of Shavano, also well marked. You will need a high clearance vehicle, but not four wheel drive, to make the last four miles of this road. Nice campsites are available along the road.
These mountains may also be climbed in combination with North Carbonate (Cronin Peak) or Tabeguache Peak. See those peak pages for various approaches.
Red TapeThese mountains are in the San Isabel National Forest. All visitors and forest users are subject to Federal Regulations. Read the rules, which address camping, vehicles, camp fires, pets, and several other issues.
When To ClimbEarly June through September is the best time of year to climb mountains in the Sawatch. The morning hours are the safest time of day. Be aware of the potential for lightning on summer afternoons.
CampingThe Angel of Shavano Campground is about 4 miles below the trailhead along CR 240. Fee is $12 per night. Above that campground and along the same road there are approximately a dozen other small camping areas, good for one to five vehicles, with no fee. You may have to get there early to claim them, however. The North Fork Reservoir Campground ($6 per night) is two miles beyond the trailhead at 11,000 ft.
Mountain ConditionsCurrent conditions are maintained by the Forest Service at their web site. Besides the weather, they publish campground status, road conditions, trail status, and closures. You may call the Forest Service office at 719-553-1400. Or check the National Weather Service forecast for the Sawatch mountains.
Views From Cyclone MountainIf it weren't for the views, I'm not sure I would still climb mountains.
Views From Carbonate MountainFrom either summit, you can see more beautiful Sawatch summits, any direction you look. The awe and mystery of God's creation is often considered from a summit like this.
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