From the Sharkstooth Trailhead at about 10,900', start walking down the marked West Mancos Trail 621. Hesperus Mountain will be looming above you. The trail descends down to the North Fork of the West Mancos River. You'll lose about 200' in a half mile. Walk across the footbridge, then turn right and start hiking west down the drainage about a quarter mile or so. Once you get past the steep north face of Hesperus, you'll have to leave the trail at some point, and start climbing up towards the west ridge of Hesperus.
Leave the trail and start heading up the slope. Initially, you will be in an area of thick vegetation and downed trees. The going is somewhat tough through here, but it doesn't last for very long. After a short while, you will reach treeline, and you'll see the steep north slope
of Hesperus's west ridge above you. Start climbing up and to the right, or straight up depending on where you left the trail. Much of the slope is grassy
, so the footing is good for the most part. Your goal is to reach the top of the west ridge. There are a few possible routes. Climb up the steep slope to this saddle
. Hesperus will be towering above you from here
Leave the saddle, and head east up the mountain. You'll immediately encounter a faint climber's trail that heads off to the right and starts an ascending traverse. The trail is faint and braided in places, but it shouldn't be too difficult to follow. Continue climbing up the trail. Make the final push to the summit
, where you can enjoy the views. You'll also have a chance to observe the wicked north face of Lavender Peak, and ponder which peak is higher.
Hiking Distance: 5 miles round trip.
Elevation Gain: About 2,800'.