From Summit of Mt Eolus via camp in Chicago Basin
Saturday July 16, 2011
Following a successful summit of Mt Eolus with my new acquaintances Eric & Whitney we all three exited the Mt Eolus summit at 10:45AM. On the way up my climbing buddy Bob had chosen to stay behind and wait just before the “catwalk” and fortuitously I’d met Eric & Whitney just after crossing the catwalk and we all three reached the summit together. Grey skies, distant precipitation, and a cool breeze from the southwest were making the weather a bit sketchy and it seemed like it could rain any moment.
Our descent was going well and rather rapidly as the weather had reached a point where rain seemed eminent but the clouds were starting to break-up and the skies were getting lighter by the minute. After a short while we were upon a short, snowy section where Eric had kick-stepped a path across on the way up. Eric was in the lead, Whitney next and I behind as Eric went back across and Whitney followed but slipped and as I watched in amazement she did a complete reversal from butt to front and full arrest just as she hit the stones below with a short, hi-pitched yelp. I couldn’t believe what I just saw; a textbook self-arrest that took all of about 3 seconds as Whitney, slightly shaken, assured us that she was OK with only a little scrape on her knee. Thank God!
Back to the catwalk went uneventfully as we reached the spot where we had left our packs on the way up and here Eric and Whitney paused to take stock in Whitney’s knee and good fortune. I told them I’d see them at the top of North Eolus as I headed back across the catwalk to hook-up with Bob again.
Back across the "Catwalk"
Bob had also witnessed as Whitney went down and I shared what I’d seen with him as we made our way back to where the notch is located right on the connecting ridge between Eolus and North Eolus. Here the weather was turning for the better and the dark skies were now giving way to much brighter partially sunny and we could now see our shadows as we progressed up and over some large, rounded boulders and up directly onto the ridge/approach for N. Eolus. Although there really wasn’t a marked trail it was quite evident that the best advance was either right on the ridge or slightly right of it as a path of sorts soon appeared where others footprints could be seen. The grade was gradual and the footing very good as the comparison of Eolus and N. Eolus rock was as though they were a hundred miles apart, yet we’d only hiked about a ¼ of a mile at this point.
We were making short work of this ridge line and before long we looked back to see that Eric & Whitney were now also starting across the catwalk and here we saw another lone guy making it up the N. Eolus ridge line a ways behind us. The CMC group we’d seen earlier near the notch was now nearing the summit of Mt Eolus as we climbed these last few yards up to the N. Eolus summit I realized I was on the threshold of a dream I’d had for the last seven years; completion of all the Colorado 14er’s. One last push and finally up and unto an empty summit at 10:25. We’d made it!
Partly cloudy skies with patches of blue and sunshine greeted us on this rounded, weathered looking summit. Bob immediately gave me a hand shake and congrats then took a quick summit shot of me with Mt Eolus in the background
Bob on N.Eolus summit with Sunlight, Sunlight Spire & Windom Peak in background
as I felt a rush of good-being and overall gratefulness as I silently praised the graces of the Lord above for helping me to achieve this goal. I also was blessed with a climbing buddy in Bob who took the time off to share these 4 Chicago Basin 14er’s with me. Really special.
Soon we had company as the young guy behind us came up to the summit and we greeted each other and took some more photos.
Arrow & Vestal Peaks
Bob on N.Eolus summit
Dan, was from Colo Sprgs and was now on his 43rd 14er, he stated that he was climbing the San Juans for the next 10 days; cool.
Myself & Dan from Colo Sprgs
The views were great and with the improved weather the visibility was much better as we relaxed and enjoyed this fine summit. Eric & Whitney from Silverton then arrived and I thanked them for being there and helping me to reach the summit of Mt Eolus as they posed for a nice summit shot. Bob and I had shared parts of the last two days with these two as we climbed the same peaks in the same order as they had. Good people, nice.
Whitney & Eric of Silverton
After taking more photos, food and drink Bob and I departed as Dan was heading over to Mt Eolus and we bid our adieus to these 3 new friends at 11:10 and started down the ridge from whence we came. Instead of going back to the connection notch we found a cairned trail to the left that traversed down a gradual grade and then switch-backed back down to near where we’d kick-stepped into the snowy incline on the way up to Mt Eolus. Back across the level area and to the trail back down the rock rib/shelf where the slushy/dirty scree & snow on rock was not any better a passage than it was on the way up.
However, I preferred going down vs going up especially after reaching the summits of these two peaks. We took our time and the partly cloudy skies kept things a bit cooler and more comfortable as the descent was going pretty well and we soon came to a spot for a good glissade that saved plenty of steps and afforded some cool fun as well.
We stopped and spoke to a few people on the way down as they were all heading up and looking back we saw Eric & Whitney coming back down fast and they would soon pass us on their way to Twin Lakes and back to Chicago Basin. Bob and I also stopped at Twin Lakes and enjoyed a leisurely pause for more photos and a good rest.
Here I took two aspirin, more food & drink and then back down the headwall
Chicago Basin Head-wall
via the switchbacks and down to Chicago Basin where we saw a few more people heading up. The rest of the way back to camp went uneventfully and we were glad to get back on the gradual ground and into the trees where it was a bit humid and very still with no breeze. Back to base camp at 2:06PM and ready for a good rest as we were both pretty spent at this point. My 58th 14er and Bob’s 4th……..Way sweet!!
Back at Base Camp
Tomorrow the pack back out to the Silverton train……….more later.