From the Main Street in Silverton, continue onto good dirt road - Hwy 110 - which is snowplowed for the first 9 miles. (All maps and books call the road 110, but when you are passing through Silverton, 110 will bring you to the Silverton Ski Area, and the road you actually want to take is marked as San Juan Country Road 2). Park at the large parking lot on the west side of the road. There is a dry toilet (hard to access in the winter since the door gets buried in the snow).
You can see Stairway to Heaven from the parking lot if you look northeast - it is the largest ice pathway on the western slopes of Peak 13,419. First Gully is located on the opposite site of the valley and about 0.1 miles further away.
Approach is on the snow road. You will get great views of Stairway to Heaven climb. Continue past Stairway to Heaven, and look to your left. You will see First Gully just a little bit above the road. Hike up on a steeper snow slope towards the start of the climb.
Eureka is an abandoned mining community nine miles northeast of Silverton on Hwy 110. Highway 110 is a bit misnomer, as it is an unpaved road that connects Silverton to Lake City via Cinnamon Pass. The first section of the road is well maintained and accessible by low clearance 2WD vehicles. The road is kept open even in the winter to Eureka Gulch parking lot. There is a nice cross country ski trail leading along this road.
Elevation in Eureka: 9,862 feet (=3,006 meters).
There is a high avalanche hazard on this climb, so alway check snow conditions prior venturing on this climb.
Northern San Juans avalanche forecast
- Ice tools
- Helmet (is a must, tons of ice falling down the gully, especially if another party is climbing above you)
- Full rack of ice screws
- Belay device
- Rope (I prefer climbing with double ropes back country ice, 60 meters sufficient)
- Always good to carry v-thread material (v-thread tool, some webbing)
- Anchoring stuff (all anchors are bolted)
- Warm clothing, hand warmers. Extra gloves (I like to use liners, thinner gloves for leading and thicker gloves for belaying. Keep gloves inside your jackets, otherwise you collect some snow in).
- Thermos with a hot beverage.
- First Gully on Mountain Project
- Eureka Lodge
- San Juan Ice Conditions - updated report on local ice
- Northern San Juan Avalanche Report