Peak(s):  Culebra Peak  -  14,047 feet
Red Mtn A  -  13,908 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2013
Date Climbed:   07/14/2013
Author:  zinj
Additional Members:   altidude
 Union of the Snake - 2013 Summer Trek: Rpt 5 of 7  

The Union of the Snake is on the climb
Moving up it's gonna race it's gonna break
Through the borderline

(Yeah! Take that, Duran Duran haters!)

I GPS-ed Culebra and Red Mtn because by the request of Cielo Vista Ranch management, these peaks are supposed to be "scatter" hikes and I was curious to find out what I actually ended up doing. We were requested to refrain from pounding trails into the hillside and to be as vigilant as possible to walk only on durable surfaces. As a consequence, there is no easily visible trail through the tundra although bits of trail appear on the crests of ridges.

Route Beta: the NW part of my route is not important. Please ignore the small gap on the ascent track where I must have teleported ahead a short distance. I believe that there is not an obviously superior/inferior track on the ascent to Culebra. Enjoy the lush tundra and stop a few times just to look around and realize how fortunate you are to be there, albeit $100 lighter in the wallet. The only advice I'd give is to remember is that Culebra's summit is SOUTH of where you might think it is looking up from the road terminus, so gently hew to climber's right when you ascend. On the descent, you can see I clipped the Culebra summit and traversed along the SW face. For once, I think my shortcut actually worked -- actually saved time and effort vs. reascending to Culebra's summit. It also gets you off the sensitive tundra and onto blocky rock.

July 13, 2013 - Transit (post San Luis)

Driving from Creede after running off San Luis in advance of a t-storm, we arrived at the Cielo Vista Ranch gates about 45 minutes before dark. I took no pictures of this, but wish I had. There is a lone porta-potty, but it is located INSIDE the fence line which bearing signs warning against trespassing. Hmmm.... Most of us ended up setting tents just inside the fence line rather than take our chances tenting on the road. Unfortunately, wandering cattle did not have this flexibility in choosing their rest spots and they found themselves on opposite sides of the locked gate (some numbskull let a few cattle out earlier that afternoon?).
what, me worry?

What do herd animals do when they find themselves divided by a physical barrier? They mill about and grunt and low in panic and frustration...for 4 STRAIGHT HOURS Initially, this brought snickers from several tents, but it really stopped being funny after about 10 minutes. Sleep was hard to come by, even with earplugs.

July 14, 2013 - Summit Day 5
Culebra, Red Mtn

Ranch hands show up at 5:45 am. The 6:00 am mark is when you're supposed to be DONE packing up and ready to go, not when you wake up. Okay then!

The and always-dapper cowboy "Carlos" ran us through orientation and sent us on our way. I learned after-the-fact that Carlos, the star of several Culebra trip reports, no longer works for the ranch and was helping out on our day as a one-off favor. Sadly, I did not snap any pictures of the Culebra Keeper.

Up up up...


Actually, I meant ME. I'm only wearing this beard while I work on a new look that will put Blue Steel to shame.


2 min of heavily-cut video of the type of terrain on the ascent to Culebra's serpentine ridgeline

Some more:

A few people topped out on this thing. I don't know if that was a mistake or intentinal

Marmot chums courtesy of Altidude - summit of Culebra

Culebra summit

Growing posse on Culebra

Red Mountain
Will topping out on Red Mtn

Red Mtn summit with Culebra in the background

The Spanish Peaks - Easternmost high mountains (>10,000 ft) in the USA

Red Mtn summit - we still think the weather will remain east of us at this point

Today's Red Mtn posse (only 4 of us): Altidude, *lost name*, zinj, YoungMasterWilliam

The June 2013 weather in the Sangres continued to confound my predictions. Apart from the fact that the "normal" summer weather pattern in Colorado was setting up "late" this summer, the Sangres are wildcards in and of themselves. This time, we were watching the distant clouds over the mountains over the Eastern San Juans well west of our position -- expected this to give us hours of leadtime on any imminent weather change. Not so. While those westerly clouds did advance on us as per usual, they never reached us because we were assaulted from the EAST with hail and thunder (no, not graupel, it was true hail this time).

My video cam batteries were dead, so I can't offer comical video of us running off of Culebra, but I did snap some of photos before the storm was upon us.

*lost name* leading us back toward Culebra

No sense of urgency yet

Altidude isn't actually posing here -- he's just that photogenic without even trying (or something)

still time to goof off?

looking back at Red Mtn (and the angry weather coming from the EAST!!!)

Run away! Run away!

It's ON! (attach to next photo

attach to previous photo)

Preceding Report: 2013 Summer Trek: Rpt 4 of 7 - San Wheezer
Subsequent Report: 2013 Summer Trek: Rpt 6 of 7 - Oye Como Va?

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22

 Comments or Questions

That "Thing"
08/14/2013 00:56
Great trip report... and looks like you guys had fun! In case you're curious, that ”thing” that people were topping out on is called ”Punta Serpiente” (Snake Point). It's not ranked... not even officially named... but it has unofficial references, so us Peak Baggers have to touch the summit anyway. :-)

You can find more details on it here!


Punta Serpiente
08/14/2013 19:10
That's about 13,500? I guess the shear face on the SE makes it a target even if it is kind of off the main Sangre ridgeline.

I could see how people would get interested in doing a massive N-S or S-N ridgeline from Trinchera to Purgatoire (or vise-versa).

07/02/2014 20:38
those marmots looks like they have one body two heads . By the way great report


07/02/2014 21:17
Thanks for the kind words. I regret I didn't get snap a shot of uber-architype clean-cut cowboy ”Carlos”. The guy is perfect. He's in some other, older reports, but since he no longer works regularly at Cielo Vista, future Carlos sightings may be few and far between

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