Made the long drive from Lake City to Nutras Creek TH (not an official TH) on Friday June 18th and set up camp. A very nice spot with beaver ponds full of fish just feet away. My brother was catching fish every few minutes. But, the bugs were very bad. During the two nights we spent here we noticed lots of weird lights in the sky coming from the direction of the San Luis Valley.
We got off to a late start (10 a.m. Oklahoma time--Okie time always) on a clear, sunny, and beautiful San Juan day. Walked up though the meadows along Nutras Creek and followed the trail to the right (north) as we went up a side drainiage instead of staying in Nutras. This took us up into a beautiful little valley, where we crossed the creek and continued on. We decided to head for a notch at the top of the drainage and eventually we went though some pretty rough willows and boulder field to get to the top. This put us about 1.5 - 2 miles northeast of the summit.
From here it was continuous rock, scree, and boulder to the top. In guidebooks I had read about the "smooth rounded summits" of the La Garita's but our route wasn't. From our point at the top of the side drainage we went up I was surpurised by how steep of a face we were going to have to go up. Nothing technical, but just seemed steepr than what we expected in this supposedly genlte range. We trudged on with my brother griping and threatening to quit but there was no way we weren't going for the peak. We had one very disheartening false summit, but finally made the summit. It was very windy and cold on top, but as always, the view was well worth the effort. From the top we could see the error of our ways. Just going straight up Nutras and then veering right (NW) to a pass between Stewart and 13,795 would be a much more dirct route to the top. Our circular route was probably 1.5 - 2 miles longer. Also it looks like the summit portion is less steep from that dirction. An even easier alternative would be to start from the Balto Chato TH, climb that mountain, and then come over to Stewart.
The thing is, I'm glad we went the way we did, we got to see a seldom visited little side valley in addition to the nice beaver ponds in the beautiful Nutras drainage. We went back the same way, changing our route a little to avoid some of the boulder fields going down. It was a very long day. We got back to the TH after about 10 hours (spend at least an hour on top). We are not hard core mountain climbers--just hikers that climb mountains--so others could probably do it quicker. I see other reports with people commenting on how easy this mountain--for us not that hard technical-wise, but just seemed longer and harder than we expected after reading other descriptions. Again, we are Okies, and we only get to go to Colorado for about two weeks every summer, so we don't a chance to very acclimated to the elevation. Did not see anyone else the whole day. Also for those driving in to climb this peak or San Luis--you can make it in a passenger car, but just be ready to go slow in certain places.