Peak(s):  Ouray, Mt  -  13,971 feet
Date Posted:  07/17/2012
Modified:  07/18/2012
Date Climbed:   07/16/2012
Author:  boudreaux
 Mt Ouray: Deep into the Chambers where Demons Lurk   

Grays Creek TH

I started at 6 am after a pleasant drive over from Monarch Mountain Lodge, the Marshall Pass Rd was well maintained and smooth and gave me no trouble. Just a few feet in and the first log to step over presents itself, but the fallen trees were not that bad. But I still managed to get over to the south side of the creek after about 20 minutes in and climbed about 40 feet up the other side and then contoured back over to the north side for a 20 minute detour, it wasn't that bad. As I got about an hour in, I noticed I was leaving the creek and heading a little NW, I ended up backtracking a couple minutes back to see if I made a wrong turn, but I was going in the right direction and started back up the trail, maybe a couple minutes later I start to see the start of the gorge going to the left and the creek was dry at this point and the trail went straight up the middle of the gulch.

The hike finally got interesting as I approached the start of the Devil's Armchair/bristlecone pine forest or I should say enchanted forest. Simply beautiful in here and the biggest bristlecone pine forest I have ever seen. After a few minutes of looking at the trees, I finally get my first glimpse of the basin below Ouray. Oh, it was very nice, I decided right there that the East ridge or NE ridge was going to have to wait and the headwall of the basin was calling. I followed the cairns for the east ridge route for awhile before heading directly up the middle of the basin. The bristlecones got smaller and smaller as I made my way deeper into the basin.

I could see the Tears of Ouray seeping down into the basin from up above. A large vein of white rock was in the center of the bowl and had my attention. I took a break to get a snack and study the vein. The vein had a coulior on each side and the right side coulior looked good, but a large chockstone was blocking the top and water was flowing down the gulley. The left side looked better and I decided to give it a shot. As I got a little closer I saw water was also flowing down this one too, it wasn't a raging torrent, but flowing gently. Getting to the start of the gulley was a little tough in the loose scree and talus, but once I got in there, it was smooth sailing on good class 3/4 rock. The water flow never bothered me and there wasn't any green slime on the rocks to give me any trouble. It was very deeply inset, much more than I originally thought, so it was very shady and cool in there. The best way to describe this climb is comparing it to the last part of Wetterhorn with water flowing down it. The steps were sharp and I never slipped once. I did have to exit one time to get around an overhanging waterfall, but other than that it was ear to ear smiling. Once above the Devil's Tailbone or Turd where the coulior ended, I just ascended left in the small depression on the slope toward the summit. That's what I called the white vein, The Devil's Tailbone, it looks like a turd as well, depending on your point of view. It jutted out of the headwall about 30 or 40 feet and was very obvious.

Comments or Questions

Interesting route...
07/17/2012 19:52
... that I will have to try. Looks like you caught a Devil by the tail. Thanks for putting this up, Beau!


Monarch Mountain Lodge
08/15/2012 16:44
While I was there with my lovely wife, I kept thinking of 'The Shining'! Every time I went down the hall to my room, I thought of the blood flowing down the halls! Not a bad place, but we had to go to various places in the lodge to find wi-fi. Very secluded out there really, staff was nice, You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave! Country Bounty was good in Salida, our waiter responded 'No Problem' for every request, only he came back and said we were out of meatloaf, big problem! Fiesta Mexicano in Salida was very good too, the sausa just lit up my mouth and the burrito I had was awesome!

Thanks Jay, it was a fun route!

Sorry no pictures, some a## didn't bring his camera, if anyone has a picture of the basin could you please post it here! Thanks in advance!


more on Ouray
08/18/2013 22:09
I got up at 11 am, talked to a couple from the Springs and went down the well made, but little used east ridge trail. As I got into the bristlcones, I was hit with a thunderous hail storm, I took shelter in a dry creekbed surrounded by trees. First time I ever had on my raingear plus space blanket. Praying vigorously to God to get me through it. Many, many huge peels of thunder shook me to the core, the bright flashes had me
bracing for the worst, at least 4 inches of hail were in the creekbed with me, covering all of the rocks completely. After 30 minutes, I hightailed it out of there, moving as fast as I could to avoid slipping and hypothermia, as I was starting to get cold. A river of hail was flowing down the trail almost all the way back to the TH. That's how I knew where the trail was. I had my blanket wrapped around me til 20 min from TH, must have been a sight to see, an orange creature emerging from the forest. As I drove out, I looked back at Ouray from the road, only Ouray and it's surrounding ridges got the storm, just Ouray. A 70% chance and a tenth of an inch my a##. Wild finish to a great day!

It would be good to climb in late, late summer in a normal year. I would image in June this would be a huge waterfall. Could be a good snowclimb in the spring?

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