From State Highway 145 at “Society Junction”, 4 miles west of Telluride, drive on 145 just a little east past the junction and turn left (north) onto “Airport Road” = “the Last Dollar Road”, # 638.
Follow the road uphill and around a sharp turn at the head of a drainage. The road continues west past the Aldasoro Ranch entrance. Bear right when the Airport Road turns off for the Telluride airport. It becomes a good dirt road here - no need for 4 WD vehicles. Continue NW and in under a mile, park at the on the right in a trailhead parking area with a small corral. The Uncompahgre NR map indicates that this is the beginning for trail # 418. There is a sign for Deep Creek and Whipple Mountain Trails. There is some private property across from the trailhead parking.
RouteApproach into East Fork of Deep Creek
From the trailhead, follow trail # 418 marked as Deep Creek/Whipple Mountain Trail for a short distance on an open grassy slope. It then switchbacks briefly to the south and then back north to join an old roadbed beside a diversion ditch in an aspen forest. Follow this ditch for nearly a mile to where it crosses Sheep Creek. Past the creek, the trail turns west, still contouring, and then after about 200 yards, makes a sharp turn to the north. Continue along the ditch, ignoring a trail sign for a trail that heads down. After another half mile or so, the ditch intersects “Whipple Creek”. That is the name for the creek that drains the basin on the south flank of Mears and S 7. This name does not show on most maps. Cross over Whipple Creek on a bridge and pick up the trail on the other side. Hike for about 10 min as the trail follows the creek. The trail then makes a sudden turn to the left, goes up a little, then begins to head gently downhill, paralleling the creek. From that sharp left, hike about 10 minutes watching for an old grass-covered roadbed on the right that heads uphill. Follow it north. This becomes “Iron Mountain trail". Hike on up this trail for nearly another 2 miles until it terminates at an old mine site at 10,862 feet.
South Slopes Route
From the mine continue up grass, talus towards the last, the most eastward grass slope. Gain as much elevation as you can on this terrain until you reach scree/talus and some cliffs above. Traverse right = east on this vast terrain of loose screen. Pay attention not to create too many rock avalanches. Sometimes talus and scree will change over a more stable looking slabs of rock. You will encounter some short class 3 sections. Plenty of zig zagging and looking around for an easier terrain while always moving up and right = east. I used a small gully with relatively safer rock, class 3 to get above this terrain. Higher up, it gets less steep, but still very loose and you can see the summit of Mears Peak. Once you reach the ridge, the going gets easier. There is still plenty of loose terrain, but this section felt much safer. The summit has a small cairn, glass register and a bottle of some yellow alcohol I was afraid to try. What is the story behind that? Enjoy, the views are spectacular.