Peak(s):  Conejos Pk  -  13,172 feet
Date Posted:  07/21/2014
Date Climbed:   07/17/2014
Author:  mennoguy
 Into the unknown the remote south San Juan's  

Conejos Peak 13172
Unnamed 12887
Unnamed 12741 soft
Unnamed 12555

July 16-17

With only a map and a few far away pictures of these peaks I headed into the unknown. My original plan was to traverse from Velvet BM to Snow BM. A soupy forecast led me to shorten the traverse. I headed up the Three Forks trail at 5:45 and made excellent time up to conejos falls. The trail up to this point had been almost a superhighway. After the falls it became less defined and more marshy. As I entered the remote valley I was greeted with spectacular views. It looked like the easiest route up 12887 was to ascend the grassy slopes towards Lake Ann and traverse over a bench to the south ridge. A direct ascent looked unpleasant with thick vegetation and steep loose terrain.

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north fork river crossing

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mighty 12727

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I took a little side trip to gather some beta on another potential summit, 12507. I really wanted to climb thus peak but it looked almost impossible from the east. So I trudged up 12887, winding my way up steep grass to the summit. Unfortunately clouds obscured my vision and my summit stay was short. I returned to the saddle and headed up 12741, a soft ranked 12er. It was a pleasant stroll up stable talus and grass. The true summit had no cairn. Clouds blocked out any views on this summit, so I descended. The ridge to Snow looked like it would go at class 3, but the late time and exposed hike out persuaded me not to try.

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12887

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12507

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up to 12741

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Lake Ann

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12507 again

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One out of six ranked summits I had planned for the day was not the ratio I was going for, but when you have no beta, a long approach, and monsoon storms this is what you get. So I headed down, not totally defeated because of the lush beautiful valley I was surrounded by. At the falls I took a break to refuel and enjoy the view.

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this bird serenaded me

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Snow BM

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These birds made a racket

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Conejos Falls

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I took a quick look at the sky and said "oh shit", it was only 11:00 but I knew I had less than an hour before all hell broke loose. So I strapped on my pack and started to run down the final four miles of trail. I managed to make it all the way down to Three Forks in 20 minutes. Not bad, but I could now see rain up north towards Plataro, great I had ten minutes of dry left. Not wanting to be a lightning rod in the open valley I ran towards the trees. I just made it to the forest when the first rumbles of thunder echoed through the valley. I knew rain would commence any second now. I really thought I could make it back to the trailhead now. Boy was I wrong, it started to rain then hail, I got wet but not drenched. Soon after the precipitation started I made it to the trailhead.

That afternoon it became sunny and clear at 4:00, no more clouds for the rest of the day. We enjoyed watching a snowshoe hare rummaging for food near our campsite.

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Snowshoe

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July 17

I hiked up the road a little and enjoyed a fabulous sunrise. The hike up on trail 720 is short and sweet, I quickly made the saddle and was hiking up the long grassy east ridge of conejos. There were a few foxes who watched me intently. Before long I was sitting on the summit and it was sunny, what a novel concept.

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Long east ridge

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The hike over to 12555 is long but easy, I watched a family of foxes play for a while, the weather held for me and I was able to leisurely walk back to camp.

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Cool rock along the road


This was the longest time I had spent in the south San Juan's and it was amazing. The storms are intense here, but the solitude is unbeatable. I will be back to climb the 12ers I missed out on.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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 Comments or Questions
Marmot72

Pretty
07/22/2014 04:36
At the heart of it, it's not the peaks, but the experience, and this looks like a good one. Loved the photos of the landscape, hare, and foxes.


lordhelmut

that waterfall
07/22/2014 16:24
looks like a nice spot for a cool dip. Sweet TR and awesome sunrise.


REVIS

Nice trip
07/23/2014 16:29
American 3 toed Woodpeckers I believe is what those noisy birds were. They always seem to pick the trees I'm camped next to and make for annoying, but effective wake up calls.
I dig these kinds of reports. No bragging, no unnecessary drama...just nature and your perception of and experience with her. Nice job.



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