OverviewNot sure if this peak has a page, can't find one anywhere when searching. Since I recently climbed it and the route is fresh in my mind, I figured I'd write something up
Monitor Peak is a Bicentennial peak in the northern cirque of Ruby Basin, hidden in the heart of the Weminuche Wilderness. Generally known as a less travelled basin, even for Weminuche standards, Ruby holds 6 ranked 13ers and a few other very noteworthy ones as well and is guarded to the South by New York Basin, the Southeast by Chicago Basin and to the North by Noname Basin. To call this a dramatic region would be a vast understatement.
Monitor is the easternmost peak along the Animas Group ridgeline, with neighboring unranked Peak 13 (13,705) and Animas Mtn (13,786). From Peak 12, you get a front row seat view of the vertical East face of Monitor. By its "standard route", its a relatively complex, loose, exposed class 4 scramble.
Getting There2 approaches to get to Ruby Basin :
1 - Needleton Train -> Remember to get the 9am train, the 8am train doesn't stop halfway. To be honest, you are better off referring to Roach or Cooper's route descriptions, for I got way off route on the way back. This is a very arduous approach that requires at the very least a map, compass and altimeter. This was the first route where I felt the need for a GPS. On the way up, Chicago Transplant's waypoints helped out big time.
A couple points of note. From the bridge, take an immediate left, head past the cabins and once in the meadow, you'll run right through the cut out log in the middle of the trail. From there, hang a right and enter the forest. The trail from here till the N.Pigeon Creek crossing it easy to follow. When you reach the creek crossing, look up and to the left where you'll see the Ruby Creek trail continue on a steeper ascending traverse around the ridge. About 10-15 minutes later, you'll run into a rock outcropping where you have a nice vantage point of your progress with a view of the Animas and bridge 1700 feet below. This is around 9700 feet. From here, climb straight up the rocks, locate cairns and follow them as the eventually round the crest of the ridgeline leading into the Ruby Creek drainage. At one point, you downclimb no more than 100 feet down a once again obvious trail and then head right, finally making easterly progress up the Ruby drainage. Follow the gradually ascending trail, paralleling the creek now until you reach the beginning of the lake. Cross the creek and hike along the north side of the lake, staying low (as in right next to the lake). At the other end of the lake, remain slightly to the left of the creek and do your best to follow a faint trail that ascends gradually at first, then steeply along narrow ledges before you reach the beginning of the upper basin, slightly below the 11,600 foot campsite region. Ascend in a northeasterly direction with some willow bashing to look foward to. Finally you reach a clearing nestled between the Animas Group and Pigeon Group with some incredible campsites. Be sure to study the approach on the way up and tie route tape along trees at critical sections. Also, leave yourself atleast 4 hours for the hike out, so plan your climbs accordingly. Its only 4.1 miles, but with the amount of route finding, the time adds up.
2 - Purgatory TH -> Refer to Roach's guide for directions from Purgatory to Needleton, I have not completed this approach.
Red TapeFees for the Narrow Gauge Railroad have gotten to the point of absolute absurdity. Its 85$ plus a 10$ fee to carry your backpack as of 2010. The novelty of the experience wears off within half the ride in, but for people who can't take extended time off work at the drop of a hat, the train seems to be the only option to reduce the 18 extra roundtrip miles from Purgatory. Anyways, its your call.
There is no fire or campsite restriction anywhere in the Ruby Basin.
CampingThere is 3 different options for camping :
1) Needleton/Animas - The benefits of pitching tent neaer Needleton is you'll have a lot less weight to haul up. The downsides are 4.1 extra miles of a tough approach and more crowds, it'll take away from the backcountry experience.
2) Ruby Lake - you'll be guarded more from the elements, will be able to hang food more easily and will have an incredibly blue lake to camp next to. Downside is the climb up from the lake to the Ruby Basin peaks. Its an extra 800 feet and the route is very hard to follow in the day, much less morning before sun is out.
3) Ruby Basin - Located above treeline at 11,600 feet, there is a surreal camping experience with jagged peaks surrounding you on either side. There is no approach left from this location, just 200 feet of steep climbing to the north and south. The only downside is its tough to hang food. We found the cliffs at the beginning of the Pigeon trail to be sufficient, but we had to get creative.