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Chicago Basin

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Chicago Basin

Postby rruby » Mon May 17, 2010 7:21 pm

Hi,

I am currently between jobs, and have some time on my hands until I can find another one. I'm from California, and was thinking of a road trip via the Grand Canyon (never been there) up to Colorado for some climbing. One friend suggested Long's Peak, but another who used to live near Durango strongly recommended Chicago Basin.

I was wondering if anyone can speculate on when I might be able to climb Eolus, Windom and maybe even Sunlight (if i can jump far enough to reach the summit block) without encountering much, if any, snow. I'm kind of new to climbing, but have climbed Mt Shasta, Mt Whitney (main trail (boring) and mountaineers route), Mt Carillon, Mt Dana, even Mt Russell, but my partner got spooked by the exposure and we turned around. I like class 3 climbing. Class 4, who knows, everyone has a different definition, mostly class 3 with exposure; i.e. mt russell.

My reason is that being alone, I'd be nervous on steep snow-covered slopes and the avalanche possibilities they present.

Thanks
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Postby iceisnice » Tue May 18, 2010 2:45 pm

I'm heading up there this weekend to ski the 14ners in Chicago Basin. Will give ya an update when I get back. I can guarantee this much tho....its still mostly snow climbing up there still. We have a pretty big snowpack this year....
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Postby Cheeseburglar » Tue May 18, 2010 3:39 pm

I don't know about this year, but it may be the about the same.
This photo was taken on Eolus on July 11, 2008. We used trail runners and an axe, no crampons.
Usually there is very little avalanche danger in July in Colorado but things soften up when the sun hits them and they can move and be hard to cross due to postholing.
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Postby rruby » Mon May 24, 2010 12:57 am

Thanks for the input. That's what I expected. July. We'll be digging out here in California as well for awhile. Big snowpack. I was in Yosemite, and the waterfalls are roaring. Memorial Day is coming up, and many, many people have scheduled trips out here, probably to find that Yosemite's Tioga Pass might still be impassible, the cables on Half dome will not be up, the Main Trail on Mt Whitney will be packed with snow & ice making what is normally class 1/2 a class 3 snow climb, etc.

Anyway, I've heard great things about Chicago Basin, and think I've talked a friend of mine into coming out there as well.

Another thing. Being somewhat new to climbing, I was wondering if the rock there is much different from what I've gotten used to in the Sierra.
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Postby iceisnice » Fri May 28, 2010 3:50 pm

Was just up in Chicago basin this last weekend. Snow line pretty much starts at 10K in Chicago basin and is still pretty deep higher up. It was extremely windy (50-60mph) and cold (20deg on the peaks in the am). However, conditions made it fun to climb (simple cramponing) and difficult to ski. With warmer temps you would have much softer snow (good and bad). There will still be patchy snow in July if that is when you are heading up there, but some of the ridges are already snow free (i.e. south ridge of Eolus) and mostly rock climbs now.
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Postby rruby » Sat May 29, 2010 11:48 pm

thanks iceisnice,

Yeah, I'm probably considering July for a road trip out there. A friend of mine is also interested. The car is paid for, and I just got new tires for it, so we're itching for a road trip to Colorado, and places in between. Need to get out of California for a few weeks, maybe longer if Colorado is as great a place others have told us it is.
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Postby Clark_Griswold » Wed Jun 02, 2010 4:08 pm

You might already know this, but being as you as you are from California where the mountain weather is nearly perfect in summer, I feel it should be mentioned since a quick skim didn't seem to address it here.

The earlier the better in July for thunderstorms. The North American Monsoon will develop in late June to early July and that will bring moisture and the afternoon (and sometimes by 10AM) thunderstorms to the 4 corners states and Rockies. The San Juans are especially bad. So, start early and beware of developing storms. I love Colorado Mountains, and the alpine vegetation is spectacular, but the storms are what made me shift my focus to the Sierra over the last year. The San Juans had a low snow year, so they may melt a little early and open up earlier than the monsoon.
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Postby Kiefer » Wed Jun 02, 2010 5:51 pm

Take a look at Halladay's report. He was just down there. Not Chicago Basin but up in Pigeon Basin/Ruby. Basically, right next to Chi Basin.
Pigeon/Turrett

And this was from a couple weeks ago by Darin Baker. Excellent stuff!
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Postby rruby » Thu Jun 03, 2010 5:47 am

The photos of chicago basin are stunning, especially with all the snow. Wish I were more of a winter climber. I've done quite a bit of winter camping, but climbing in that environment has yet to be learned.

On my first real ascent of Mt Whitney last year, on Memorial Day no less (heck that's summer), we were chased off the mountain at 13,600 by a blizzard/thunderstorm from hell. I was stunned by how fast it struck. Unlike many others who were wearing shorts and sandals (numerous rescues that day), we had crampons and ice axes, habit from hanging around mt shasta. Sounds like my experience on Whitney is much more regular in colorado. Scary stuff, especially the lightning.

I guess if I go out to chicago basin there's a good chance i'll get to use all the extra stuff I lug around here and never take out of my pack.

Thanks for the insights. Heading out for some climbs this week.
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