Participants: Brian Kalet, Luke Kroiss, Julie Struble
Luke, Julie and I drove down to Durango Thursday night and camped at the Junction Creek Campground. This was once a free campground, but now charges $15 per night. We got up on Friday morning and drove to the train station. We boarded the 9 am train, the only train that stops at Needleton.
Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad
We got off the train, grabbed our packs and continued towards the Needle Creek Trailhead, grabbing lunch in the shade on the way. We continued up into Chicago Basin and saw our first glimpse of a few of the peaks we'd be attempting in the next 24 hours.
Chicago Basin Peaks
We set up camp at 11,200' just above the upper Columbine Pass/Twin Lakes Trail intersection. This is probably the best campsite if attempting Jupiter and the 14ers on separate days. Luke and I continued up the Columbine Pass Trail, then up Jupiter Mountain's Southwest Slopes. Julie stayed at camp because of a previously torn ACL and meniscus. Jupiter Mountain was mostly a straightforward hike, but yielded great views of the 14ers were were attempting the following day.
Looking North From Jupiter Mountain
Eolus, North Eolus, Sunlight & Windom
I awoke to Luke's headlamp. I quickly got up and we started hiking within 20 minutes. I ate my breakfast Cliff Bar on the trail. We took the good trail just below Twin Lakes up to the Eolus/North Eolus saddle where we encountered a group of two descending. They were not comfortable with the exposure and lack of cairns on the route leading to Eolus. One of the two decided to follow us to the summit. The rock was wet from the previous night and the sun was blocked by clouds, so the rock was wet, adding a slight and enjoyable element of danger to the ascent. We soon arrived at the summit.
Looking South From Mount Eolus
We continued up to North Eolus. This was a quick, but worthwhile endeavor. We ran down to Twin Lakes and continued up Sunlight's Red Couloir where we met Julie descending. We passed her and continued up to Sunlight's summit. The summit block was fun!
Mandatory Air on Sunlight's Summit Block
The weather was not improving, so we quickly descended Sunlight and cruised up Windom. Windom's west ridge was a fun Class 2+ climb.
Map. Class 4, ~23.1 miles with ~11,600' of elevation gain. Click to enlarge.