"Winter Access" When does it begin?

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Eli Watson
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by Eli Watson » Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:23 pm

In my experience when Bill lists the winter access to a TH as "closed, many miles below the TH", it's usually on the order of 4+ miles one-way. I was lucky enough to avoid an expensive tow miles from a paved road in winter exactly once before I learned to just accept the extra miles and start earlier.

On the subject of Silver Creek/Grizzy Gulch access, here are two of my favorite winter TRs, in very different snow years, written by Kevin Baker and Brad McQueen.
Crestone Centennial Circuit: Part I & Part II
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:24 pm

This forum is once again invaluable. Thanks all for the suggestions as I think about it more. Brad, let me know when you’re ready for that calendar Chi Basin trip! Safe hiking everyone

Agreed Eli, thank you
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by bmcqueen » Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:08 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:24 pm
Brad, let me know when you’re ready for that calendar Chi Basin trip!
Way too soon to bring that up! That re-ascent to Purgatory last Sat is still awfully fresh on my mind! :-D

You asked about the train - in a normal year, pretty sure the train goes to Cascade Y, but only through Dec. Not sure if they’ll even do that this year. I’ve just been warming myself up to the idea that I’ll go in from Purgatory and give myself a week. We’ll see if the low snow year in the southern mountains pans out this year...
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:24 pm

bmcqueen wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 6:08 pm
CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 5:24 pm
Brad, let me know when you’re ready for that calendar Chi Basin trip!
Way too soon to bring that up! That re-ascent to Purgatory last Sat is still awfully fresh on my mind! :-D

You asked about the train - in a normal year, pretty sure the train goes to Cascade Y, but only through Dec. Not sure if they’ll even do that this year. I’ve just been warming myself up to the idea that I’ll go in from Purgatory and give myself a week. We’ll see if the low snow year in the southern mountains pans out this year...
Haha no worries! I’ll bring the 4 season tent and white gas to make things easier 🍺
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by Tornadoman » Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:56 pm

I've been studying the possibility of doing the UNs in winter sometime. The below trip report shows a start from Bent Creek (before you get to Mill Creek) which should be open all winter. Also the Williams Creek route that is mentioned in the report would be open in winter/snow season. I would assume that either of those options would be far better than the Silver Creek/GG approach when the snow flies and the road is closed. https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=17677
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by ltlFish99 » Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:48 pm

CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:57 am
Scott P wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:51 am
CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:45 am
I'm curious as to when the trailheads fully close.
When either there is too much snow to drive on them or when the gates are locked.

That's an impossible question to answer since you didn't say what trailheads. They are all different.
Sorry, I should've been more specific
Nutras Creek or Cebolla, Silver/Grizzly, Mill Creek for Dallas (open?) or is Blue Lakes gulley preferred, Rock of Ages or Gladstone alt., routes for Rio Grande Pyramid, Jagged, Phoenix, and Cataract Gulch. When the Durango train runs, does it drop at Cascade during Winter? What are the logistics for that if you know?

I found out what too much snow meant going to Lily Lake TH last December with blizzaks and a RWD truck. Dumb me, I know. Just an FYI I’ve only seen/lived/hiked in snow for one season. I take precautions and try to learn as much as possible, found out firsthand how deadly it can be
Blue lakes trailhead was just barely accessible the day after Thanksgiving in 2018.
Last year in 2019, I was stopped by snow at mile 4.5 of 9.2 on ouray county road 7 on December 2nd.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:36 am

Tornadoman wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 7:56 pm
I've been studying the possibility of doing the UNs in winter sometime. The below trip report shows a start from Bent Creek (before you get to Mill Creek) which should be open all winter. Also the Williams Creek route that is mentioned in the report would be open in winter/snow season. I would assume that either of those options would be far better than the Silver Creek/GG approach when the snow flies and the road is closed. https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/triprepo ... trip=17677
Awesome I appreciate it TM. From what I remember sunshine’s winter ridge is via mill creek which would allow access this way. Once the snow starts dropping I’ll be doing my homework on a few THs. Thanks again
ltlFish99 wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 10:48 pm
CaptCO wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:57 am
Scott P wrote:
Sat Oct 24, 2020 11:51 am


When either there is too much snow to drive on them or when the gates are locked.

That's an impossible question to answer since you didn't say what trailheads. They are all different.
Sorry, I should've been more specific
Nutras Creek or Cebolla, Silver/Grizzly, Mill Creek for Dallas (open?) or is Blue Lakes gulley preferred, Rock of Ages or Gladstone alt., routes for Rio Grande Pyramid, Jagged, Phoenix, and Cataract Gulch. When the Durango train runs, does it drop at Cascade during Winter? What are the logistics for that if you know?

I found out what too much snow meant going to Lily Lake TH last December with blizzaks and a RWD truck. Dumb me, I know. Just an FYI I’ve only seen/lived/hiked in snow for one season. I take precautions and try to learn as much as possible, found out firsthand how deadly it can be
Blue lakes trailhead was just barely accessible the day after Thanksgiving in 2018.
Last year in 2019, I was stopped by snow at mile 4.5 of 9.2 on ouray county road 7 on December 2nd.
Thank you
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by d_baker » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:24 am

CaptCO wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:36 am
From what I remember sunshine’s winter ridge is via mill creek which would allow access this way.
The approaches are not the same.
I haven't done the Sunshine group from Mill Creek, but I have done the Pts from that area. The approach I used to gain the S ridge of 13,811' is about 1/2 mile before (E of...) the Mill Creek campground.
There's a meadow on the N side of the road that is where I started the bushwack up the S ridge route. I ascended 811' and traversed to 832' and retraced my track and descended the way I came up. That was in an early April spring snowpack.
My report with a map at end.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:46 am

d_baker wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:24 am
CaptCO wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:36 am
From what I remember sunshine’s winter ridge is via mill creek which would allow access this way.
The approaches are not the same.
I haven't done the Sunshine group from Mill Creek, but I have done the Pts from that area. The approach I used to gain the S ridge of 13,811' is about 1/2 mile before (E of...) the Mill Creek campground.
There's a meadow on the N side of the road that is where I started the bushwack up the S ridge route. I ascended 811' and traversed to 832' and retraced my track and descended the way I came up. That was in an early April spring snowpack.
My report with a map at end.
Thanks, I’d imagine during calendar winter there’s not enough hours in the day for a Sunshine > RC > UN’s and back
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptainSuburbia » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:16 am

CaptCO wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:46 am
d_baker wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:24 am
CaptCO wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 2:36 am
From what I remember sunshine’s winter ridge is via mill creek which would allow access this way.
The approaches are not the same.
I haven't done the Sunshine group from Mill Creek, but I have done the Pts from that area. The approach I used to gain the S ridge of 13,811' is about 1/2 mile before (E of...) the Mill Creek campground.
There's a meadow on the N side of the road that is where I started the bushwack up the S ridge route. I ascended 811' and traversed to 832' and retraced my track and descended the way I came up. That was in an early April spring snowpack.
My report with a map at end.
Thanks, I’d imagine during calendar winter there’s not enough hours in the day for a Sunshine > RC > UN’s and back
Maybe as a loop and good conditions? Last February I did Sunshine/RC in 8 hours at a relaxed pace.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by bmcqueen » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:19 am

CaptCO wrote:
Sun Oct 25, 2020 7:46 am
Thanks, I’d imagine during calendar winter there’s not enough hours in the day for a Sunshine > RC > UN’s and back
When I did the UNs 11/25/2017, I did RC/SS again as well as Sun Dog that day. 11:08 RT for that from Silver Creek TH without too much snow to deal with yet. Just RC/SS from Mill Creek in winter on 3/11/2018 was 9:35 car to car for me. It wouldn't be impossible to add the UNs - I would estimate it would add 4 hours RT to get both and get back to RC for the return - but you'd certainly be doing some of it in the dark, whether on the front end, back end or both. My spring season RC/SS from Mill Creek was a little faster on 4/13/2018 - 8:14 car to car.
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Re: "Winter Access" When does it begin?

Post by CaptCO » Sun Oct 25, 2020 8:24 am

Thanks, Judd and Brad, I'm certainly not as experienced as you guys so I really appreciate it. I'll start lurking some TR's, plugging in some times, and mess around with garmin explore/caltopo. I suppose at the end of the day the UN's will come down to conditions if I were to make a loop. I don't have a problem hiking in the dark, but there's some type of intimidation hiking solo when it's below 0 degrees. I'll keep ya'll posted as I close in on them :thumbup:
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