Vestal Peak  
Condition Updates  
 
Route: Wham!
Posted On: 2020-10-04, By: Eli Watson
Info: Summited Arrow Pk, Vestal Pk, "West Trinity", Trinity Pk & "East Trinity" from Molas Lake TH on 2020-10-03. Followed Roach's description of "AVWTE Combo - Trinitas (29.9)" in Thirteeners with the addition of Wham Ridge Direct start to ascend Vestal. Overall, air quality wasn't great but it wasn't awful. Definitely put a damper on my photographs. Molas Lake to Elk Park Trail to Vestal Creek Trail approach: No snow. All stream crossings are mellow. Arrow Pk NE Face: Bone dry. No snow whatsoever. Vestal Pk Wham Ridge Direct start: Mostly dry. There is some snow to contend with higher up on the face, mostly on ledges above the crux. Careful placement of feet makes it very manageable. The direct start is not 5.3, as reported by Roach. It's easy slab walking for the most part if you have good grip on your shoes. I put on my rock shoes at the Ledge at start of the standard Wham Ridge route, but I could have waited a bit longer. There are a couple places off on climbers' right of the ridge crest that you can step off and relax. Vestal Pk S Face: Bone dry. No snow whatsoever. "West Trinity" W Ridge: Bone dry. No snow whatsoever. Trinity Pk W Ridge: Bone dry. No snow whatsoever. Trinity Pk E Ridge Gully: Bone dry. No snow whatsoever. "East Trinity" W Gully: Some snow. Avoidable for the most, especially if you're like me and hate dry, loose gullies so you stick to the rocks just to the left of the gully. Crossing over the gully to the ridge, there is some snow that I had to make a very committed move to avoid. Sketchiest move of the day, Wham Ridge included. "East Trinity" E Ridge: May or may not have spent a full 2 hours trying to find the line down "East Trinity" in the dark. I don't actually know which descent line is the route. It was dark and I was figuring things out on the fly on the descent. The N Face of "East Trinity" is holding snow, and the broad gully directly below the elbow of the N Ridge to Peak 3 looked like a no-go. First I turned east towards Storm King Pk on accident, then had to navigate the steep slopes down the N Ridge of "East Trinity". None of the lines west off the "East Trinity" - Peak 3 notches looked promising. Seriously considered re-summiting, descending the S Gully between "East Trinity" and Trinity Pk and curling back around to the Arrow-Vestal saddle to avoid putting myself in a dangerous position on that loose shale. I hate shale. Finally collected myself, and butt-slid down a bunch of loose scree that I think was the line. Splits: Molas Lake TH 3:47 AM Animas River bridge 5:19 AM Vestal Creek Trail 6:30 AM Vestal Basin and turn-off for Arrow Pk 8:21 AM Stashing pack in talus below Arrow Pk 8:49 AM Arrow Pk summit 10:31 AM Retrieve pack 11:45 AM Wham Direct start 12:31 PM Vestal Pk summit 2:34 PM "West Trinity" summit 5:33 PM Trinity Pk summit 6:35 PM "East Trinity" summit: 7:55 PM (2 hours of being super sketched out figuring out how to get off "East Trinity") Re-join Vestal Creek Trail at turn-off towards Arrow Pk 2:34 AM Elk Creek Trail 3:35 AM Animas River bridge 4:19 AM Molas Lake TH 6:38 AM Roach says it's 23.4 mi, 10.4k vert Strava said 29.4 mi, 17k vert Another app says 32.9 mi, 13.1k vert Take your pick, it was a big day. 
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Route: Molas Pass
Posted On: 2020-10-02, By: Jon Frohlich
Info: Durango Herald reports 2 of the avalanche paths have been cleared. https://durangoherald.com/articles/344840 
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Route: Standard
Posted On: 2020-08-30, By: dwoodward13
Info: Generally well marked route. Lost the climbers trail a bit in the middle of the rock glacier but everything else is easy. Although listed as Class 2/2+, bring a helmet for this one. Tons of debris ready to go flying by parties ascending/descending the gully. 
 
Route: South Face
Posted On: 2020-08-18, By: supranihilest
Info: Trail from Molas Pass to the D&SNGRR tracks and then to Elk Creek Trailhead is in great shape. Once heading up Elk Creek there are three avalanche debris piles, each one getting larger as you go upstream. There are plastic flags to follow through the debris. Past that there's plenty of deadfall all the way up to Vestal Basin. To reach Vestal's south face go up the Vestal/Arrow saddle, which is steep and loose. Then contour around under Vestal until you're below a massive gully farther to the southeast side. Climb up this gully on either side, not directly in the gully itself. There's tons of loose rock on this route and it's nowhere near as nice as other routes on the Vestal Basin peaks, but it is the easiest route up Vestal. To return either go back down the Vestal/Arrow saddle or to east and down the ridge between Vestal and "West Trinity". Doing the latter allows you to tag unranked 13er "The Kurzhorn" if desired. 
 
Route: Wham
Posted On: 2020-07-07, By: jahselassie
Info: Summer conditions. Hiked in from Molas TH. Second photo is Arrow from Wham. 
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Route: Wham!
Posted On: 2020-07-01, By: letsgocu
Info: Conditions from Peak Three 
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Route: From Molas
Posted On: 2019-09-27, By: WildWanderer
Info: The avalanche area was more robust than I'd anticipated, but there is marking tape you can follow. Be careful though: the ice underneath still hasn't melted completely and it's causing hollow caverns under the debris. Light dusting of snow this morning that melted by this afternoon and was replaced later this afternoon. Snow in gully is avoidable. Bring microspikes for scree. 
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Route: Center Shift
Posted On: 2019-09-10, By: angry
Info: Center shift on Wham; Roach rates it 5.6-5.7. Was mostly 5.5/5.6 but did find a little 5.7 on the second to last pitch, pro placement was bomber. 
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Route: Standard
Posted On: 2019-08-12, By: zdero1
Info: There are 4 avy paths you must traverse. They are close together, starting roughly 1mi from the Elk Park train stop. Orange flags guide the way over them. Logs are slick when wet. The choss slope from 12,300-13000 isn't too bad. Screeing involved. I'd say leave the snow gear at home. You don't have to cross any snowfields except for about 10'....and it's not steep. Make sure you bring an upper and lower shell. We were saturated by wet willows and pines. Wham Ridge is snow free. 
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Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2018-09-11, By: thurs
Info: All good. No snow or moisture on the Grenadiers. The creeks are still flowing though. Fall colors are here. 
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Route: Wham ridge
Posted On: 2018-06-11, By: cottonmountaineering
Info: Wham ridge and the descent are snow free, make sure on your descent to keep going past the first gully to the easier class 2+ gully. There is avoidable snow from the arrow-vestal saddle as listed in the previous TR. 416 fire may cause closures/haze. 
 
Route: South Gully
Posted On: 2018-06-07, By: brerrabbit
Info: Did Vestal and Arrow from Molas Pass. A few downed trees on the route but not as bad as expected from TRs. No snow crossing is required, my partner did use her axe for a glissade down the Vestal-Arrow saddle but I took some scree and it was manageable. Ice axe and microspikes are not required as I never used mine. There is snow in both the couloirs for the upper Arrow route but the rib goes nicely. 
 
Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2017-09-06, By: tmud
Info: There are 32 (+/- 2) switchbacks on the ascent of the CT between the Animas and Molas. And once you get into the lower meadow of Vestal Basin, take the talus to the left rather than following the trail, it gets really muddy. Pictures: https://www.flickr.com/photos/92276249@N07/albums 
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Route: South Face
Posted On: 2016-09-10, By: TravelingMatt
Info: From the Elk Creek Trail, the Vestal Creek Trail skirts the far (east) end of the big beaver pond. If you pass a large boulder field you have gone too far up the Elk Creek Trail. Vestal Creek Trail is nasty with many blowdowns, but on the way down I never took my pack off, managing to either crawl under or go over every blowdown. The beginning (west end) of the 11,400' meadow has a very nasty marshy stretch, but I stayed dry by skirting 20-30 feet to the left (north) partly on large boulders. The climber's trail for both Arrow and Vestal starts opposite a small stand of trees towards the far (east) end of the meadow; see pic. The final ascent of the south face begins at a location where the cairned route ends near a narrow gully. The route generally follows along the climber's left (west) side of the gully. There are occasional cairns but any route up works; the object is to get to the gap in the summit's east ridge. Once on the east ridge, a few cairns mark a route but on the last ~50' you're on your own and many options are possible. If descending this gully after doing Wham, stay along the gully just to the right of it, then look for a small cairn some 3-400' below the upper ridge on the far right (west) side of the gully. From this cairn a climber's path should be visible. 
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Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2016-07-05, By: eskermo
Info: Climbed Wham Ridge and descended the standard route from Molas Pass. The approach in was in great condition to the Beaver Ponds. The creek crossing had three logs across it, and this was one of the most scary parts of the whole outing. The climbers trail into the basin is still relatively easy to follow, but there are still a lot of downed trees to duck under or navigate around. Sections that were steeper that were still wet were kind of slick and muddy. I found a nice spot to set up camp a little way past the creek crossing. The hike into the basin was WET. I managed to go calf deep into mud and creeks a couple times, and by the time I reached the climbers cutoff up to Vestal/Arrow I was completely drenched. The willows into the area are very tall and thick and were covered in the night's rain, making it really sloppy in there. The climbers cutoff is pretty obvious. If you want to attempt to keep your feet dry, however, walk another 100 yards or so upstream and cross on a couple logs. The next steep push up the headwall was not much drier. The path I took up was essentially a small creek channel surrounded by more tall, drenched willows. On the way down there was another trail that was much more well defined and dry than the one directly after the bridgeless crossing. From the top of the headwall, it was an easy talus hop over to the base of Wham. I took the direct start and agree with previous comments that this is third, MAYBE easy fourth class, and nothing close to Roach's 5.3? rating. The first half of the route is pretty straightforward. Once the low angle crack ends at the far west edge of Wham, things quickly got more difficult. I tried to follow the western edge of Wham, or as close to it as I felt comfortable. While the climbing was relatively easy, the rock quality was not the bomber quartzite I had read so much about. I think I was likely a bit off route, because I had to test almost every single hold and the rock was still pretty vegetated and loose in certain sections. I met Larry (LAW) and son on the summit, who were above me on Wham the whole time. The descent, while not easy by any stretch of the imagination, was manageable and route finding wasnt quite as difficult as previous reports led me to believe. You want to follow the southeastern gully down quite a way, following cairns the entire way, and eventually trending right while looking for cairns on skiers right. From there, a traverse back west/northwest quickly brings you to the top of the Arrow/Vestal saddle. The top half of the slope below the saddle was mostly dry with a narrow finger of snow. I brought my axe but didn't feel comfortable glissading, so I opted for the dry, loose, scree descent. There were a couple lower angle sections of snow to be crossed down lower, but an axe is probably not necessary anymore. I brought climbing shoes but never needed them. I did, however, bring a second pair of approach shoes and a change of socks that I put on once I made it onto Wham. That was a life saver. A few thoughts: - Approach shoes were perfect for this climb - There was plenty of solid protection in between loose areas if you choose to bring a rope and gear. - This was the upper end of my unroped comfort level. The climbing didnt feel that difficult, but testing every single hold and having to be super cautious with loose rock had me mentally drained. - Traction for the descent at this time is not necessary. An axe could be helpful but also probably not needed at all in another week or so. - Follow the cairns on the descent! I have heard of misleading cairns up higher, but the ones I followed down the gully were pretty straightforward. - In future trips I think it would be easier and more enjoyable to start early and day trip it. The approach and deproach with a heavy pack were brutal. 
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Route: Wham Ridge
Posted On: 2013-09-08, By: ngoodnight
Info: Climbed the Wham yesterday (9/7). Despite hours of rain the night before, the route was in perfect (dry, good friction) condition by 7am. We protected one pitch from just above the two blocks to just above the crux slab (70m rope). I placed one nut (BD #11, I think) at the base of the crux plus 2-3 camalots in the range .5-1. The crux slab felt like 5.2, and you can keep the entire route at 4th class by staying on the ridge until just above the crux. I would expect the route to get some snow/hail over the next few days. 
 
Route: Wham
Posted On: 2013-09-02, By: Monster5
Info: Route is in good condition and free of snow/ice (likely to change daily). The trail starts just after the beaver ponds on the CT - follow the pond shore‘s east side south (i.e. skirt the lake left) until a solid trail starts. A bit of downfall to hop over heading into Vestal Basin. The trail split for the upper basin between Vestal and Arrow is fairly obvious at ~11450 near the end of a large meadow. Solid trail winds up the drainage. Entered the Wham via a brief class 3 gully on climber‘s right side of the toe prior to ascending grassy slopes and low angled slab up and eventually to the ridge. No need to contour all the way left around the lake. Crux pitches were solid (single move 5.4, plenty of 4th and 5.easy). We might‘ve traversed left too soon after the crux (~100ft). Not sure what the best option is here - I think ascending a couple hundred feet higher and then traversing left and up. The descent wasn‘t nearly as bad as expected. Cairned trail on the right side of the prominent SE gully and solid trail traversing to the saddle. Plenty of solid options for bypassing scree. The descent from the Arrow/Vestal saddle was a bit annoying but still a scree ski. Rack used: BD .5, 2, nut set, slings, 30 m rope. Mostly short rope style and simul with terrain belays. 30 m was plenty sufficient for the two spicier pitches with ledge belays. Naturally, the gear and protection (if any) views depends on the party‘s ability. 

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