Peak:  Sunshine Peak (14er)
 Route:  East Ridge
 Range:  San Juan
 Posted By:  Squirrellysquirrel
 Date of Info:  11/16/2020
 Date Posted:  11/17/2020

Started around 7am to avoid the early morning winds, worked to advantage on the way up, not so great timing for descent, back at Mill Creek TH around 3:15pm, which was when the sun started to vanish behind the mountains at low elevation; blue bird day; afternoon temps ranged from 13-35'F. Did my best to kick-in a trail, follow GPS, and move cairns to higher visibility so that when snow is present, the trail *might* be easier to follow; and...!... there's now a nice trench to follow, so it might be easier/faster for the next hiker; it's still a booger-bear route of a 4500k+ elevation gain with ample ankle twisters and rocks waiting to bite under the snow.

Microspikes and poles were helpful through steep parts of the trail within the treeline in the morning (ground was still adequately frozen); snowshoes were necessary starting around 11.2k for 1-2 feet of almost consolidated snow, still a little too powdery, with light eggshell crust; this was still within the treeline (tree wells present) and used to gain the ridge/elevation until about 13.6k. From here switched to boots to hop rocks to the top. At the top, there is a mushroom-like cap of snow that's sturdy and windblown, yet looks like a cornice in infancy on the southside, nothing that would interfere with either route, but certainly kept me off areas of the peak along its edges.

Snow was relatively safe, CAIC rating of "Low" danger, snow level ranged from dusting to shin to knee deep; consistency was crunchy in the morning and a nice creamy sugar after noontime, which was great to traverse except for when descending in the tree lined areas of royal, slippery steepness. Several areas of hard, wind-blown snow around 12.3k, used to advantage to shorten the route or avoid obvious snow danger; snow did start to form soft, separating slabs upon descent, but didn't have much propagation beyond an inch or two (used ice ax for safety); might wish to check snow conditions along the way with the higher temps this week followed by another snowfall predicted for this weekend, looking like glassy snow features might form from upper treeline to maybe 12.2k.

I've included pictures of nearby mountains for recon, after the winds last week, they look much more accessible. Redcloud traverse is pretty clear, too; had I had more time, would've gone for it; tracks of elk, rabbit, and mountain lion also present.

Photos (click for slideshow):

Comments or Questions
Nice report
11/17/2020 15:22
Great report with wonderful photographs.
How did the road to the grizzly gulch/ silver creek trailhead look?


Grizzly gulch/ silver creek TH
11/18/2020 07:30
I did a TH report, can be found here:

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