Huron Peak - Southwest Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 2 |
|Total Gain:||3,600 feet|
3,900 feet if you hike the road from Winfield
|RT Length:||9 miles|
13.25 miles if you hike the road from Winfield
|County Sheriff:||Chaffee: 719-539-2596
|National Forest:||San Isabel|
|Wilderness Area:||Collegiate Peaks|
From Leadville: Drive 20 miles south on U.S. 24 and turn right on the Chaffee County 390 road.
From Buena Vista: Drive 14.5 miles north on U.S. 24 and turn left on the Chaffee County 390 road.
On the 390 road (dirt), drive 11.8 miles to Winfield. Turn left and measure from here. Drive 0.1 mile to reach the lower, 2WD trailhead on the left. After 0.4 mile, the road gets rugged and narrow (4WD required). After 0.7 mile, stay right at a junction. After 1.7 miles, the Banker Mine road is to the left - stay straight on the main road and continue to the end, at 2.1 miles. The trail starts past the parking area.
Pass the trailhead kiosk (Photo #1) and walk south on the trail that leads to Apostle Basin and Lake Anne. After a mile The Three Apostles (North Apostle, Ice Mountain and West Apostle) come into view to the south - Photo #2. After 1.5 miles, reach a trail junction and stay left (Photo #3). Continue another 0.1 mile into the trees to reach an unmarked junction (Photo #4) and turn sharply left to start up an old trail that leads to some mines up to the east. The trail isn't maintained and there are many trees that have fallen over it - Photo #5. Carefully follow the trail east up through the forest, pass the remnants of an old shack and 11,000' and continue another 1/2 mile to reach a corner of the trail, at 11,600' - Photo #6. On the right side of this corner is a faint trail that heads southeast into the trees. The turn is just before a shack on the old mine trail- Photo #7. It's key to find this corner.
If you've made it this far, you know that this route is no picnic. Well, the route-finding gets more difficult beyond this point. Leave the corner and follow the faint trail into the trees. You'll soon encounter thick forest and fallen trees. If you lose the faint trail, continue directly southeast through the thick forest, without losing any elevation. Continue 0.15 mile to exit the trees at a boulder field - Photo #8. Locate some cairns (or not) and angle east up through the boulder field, toward more trees on the other side. Re-enter thick trees and continue directly east for 0.1 mile. After you fight your way out of the thick forest, reach another boulder field above 11,800' - Photo #9.
Cross this boulder field and gradually gain a little elevation as you hike east. Weave through some willows (Photo #10) and continue toward a small set of cliffs near 11,900' - Photo #11. Pass left of the cliffs and continue east below the steep southwest slopes up to your left. Point 13,472' is ahead and is a good marker for your progress. Continue east toward the left side of Point 13,472' on easy terrain - Photo #12. After passing below southwest slopes, reach an open, flat spot (12,500') below the saddle between Huron and Point 13,472' - Photo #13. Photo #14 looks back on the tedious traverse to this point. From the flat spot, begin your ascent north/northeast on grass which soon turns to talus and scree at the base of the steep slope under the saddle - Photo #15. Swing left a bit and climb to the grass below the saddle (Photo #16) and then to the saddle (Photo #17), above 13,000'. The route is much more fun above this point.
Turn left to see Huron's southeast ridge - Photo #18. Photo #19 is a look back on the saddle. Hike northwest up the ridge (Photo #20) to reach the top of an initial point at 13,400' - Photo #21. Continue along the ridge toward the top of a broad, 13,780-foot point - Photo #22 and Photo #23. From 13,780' you have a good view of the remaining route - Photo #24. Drop slightly (Photo #25) and ascend climb over of rock outcroppings along the ridge - Photo #26 and Photo #27. Continue on or just left of the ridge crest for an additional 100' (Photo #28) to reach the summit - Photo #29, Photo #30 and Photo #31.
This route is no joke! It's harder than the standard route and includes plenty of route-finding, bush-whacking, talus-hopping, some willow-bashing and a scree slope. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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