Peak(s):  Rio Grande Pyramid  -  13,821 feet
"Fools Pyramid"  -  13,278 feet
PT 13,261  -  13,261 feet
PT 13,017  -  13,017 feet
"Window Pk"  -  13,157 feet
Date Posted:  09/05/2014
Date Climbed:   09/01/2014
Author:  SnowAlien
Additional Members:   sanjuanmtneer
 Rio Grande Pyramid group 13ers  

Day 1 - Hike in

Approach: Standard from Rio Grande Reservoir
Mileage: 8.5 miles
Vertical: ~2,200 ft
Time: ~4.5 hours

Recent snow and cold temperatures threw my Labor Day climbing plans in the Wilsons and Elks in the turmoil. Here comes Kent (sanjuanmtneer) whose partners canceled their plans in the Elks for the same reason. Rio Grande Pyramid, here we come. Kent is within striking distance from finishing all the ranked 13ers (with just over 40 peaks left), but interestingly enough, RGP would be his Centennial finisher! I had no idea. It turns out, RGP had been Kent's formidable nemesis as several attempts were previously derailed for different reasons. We also agreed to tag the nearby 13ers to make the extended hike in more worthwhile. Overall, the trip went without a hitch. I easily found the Weminuche TH arriving around 9pm on Friday after narrowly escaping hellacious Denver outbound Labor Day weekend traffic and bumped into Kent already expecting me. We set off in the morning around 6.30am on a great trail.

Windows and RGP on the approach via Rincon La Vaca trail

Our camp site

View of Pt 13,017 from the camp site

With lively conversation, the 8.5 mile approach went reasonably quickly - just past 10.30 am we were looking for a suitable campsite near 11.2k. The complicated issue was locating a campsite near water sources - it turns out RGP upper basin is rather barren. In a dry year, Roach recommends not venturing much past Weminuche pass as creeks up higher run dry. With a wet summer, we were lucky to find a nice camp spot with a small creek nearby at about 11.2k. There was only one other potential camping spot slightly higher that would have saved us a few minutes in the next 2 days, but overall, I think we were pretty pleased with the location of our campsite.

We set up our tents, cooked lunch, and then a rather peculiar thing happened. We had previously intended to climb two 13ers after setting up the camp. However, after eating lunch, I bonked - the stress of the previous three 60-hour work weeks, lack of excercise and sleep (aka "the real life") finally caught up to me. I wanted nothing but sleep. Thankfully, Kent took it all in stride and we agreed to stay in camp and rest.

Day 2 - Rio Grande Pyramid, PT 13,278 and PT 13,261

Mileage (from camp): ~8 miles RT
Vertical: 4,100 ft
Time: just under 8 hours

Sunrise in the upper basin

In the morning, I was much better rested and we ventured up the trail at 6.30am. We knew the trail takes a hard left towards the Windows/pass, so we had to leave the trail and find our way to RGP's Weminuche pass trail. What I didn't realize (yet), that Kent is a walking human topo. He found an easy shortcut and fairly soon we found ourselves on the trail cruising towards the saddle between RGP and UN 13,278.

Windows in the morning light

At the base of the Pyramid with the obvious trail in the middle of the face

Heading along the Weminuche pass trail

Upper reaches

Heading up

Talus slog

Summit views

A new Centennial finisher ~9am

The rest of the climb was fairly straightforward - we followed the obvious gully to the summit, which we reached around 9am, or 2.5 hours after leaving our camp. Two other people came shortly after us, mentioning getting off trail at some point. The summit itself was too windy, so we didn't stay long. As Kent said, we had "other fish to fry". After descending our ascent route, we took a break on a gentle slope before hiking up PT 13,278.

Getting ready to "fry more fish"

Pts 13,278 (front) & 13,261 (back)

Roach was right, Pt 13,278 provides an outstanding view of Rio Grande Pyramid. The summit register was wet, so we left it out to dry while we traversed over to Pt 13,261 and back.

Looking back at Rio Grande Pyramid

Pt 13,278


Ridge to Pt 13,261

Interesting volcanic rock near the summit of Pt 13,261

Running the ridge in strong winds was slightly annoying, so we were back at PT 13,278 by 1pm. Following Kent's suggestion, we descended PT 13,278's gentle tundra slope to save us some mileage, used the same shortcut we found in the morning, connected to the Rincon La Vaca trail and cruised down to our camp shortly after 2pm. Still lots of time to rest before the next day!

Utilizing our shortcut

Turning on the afterburners

Day 3 - Pt 13,017, "Window peak" and pack out

Mileage (from camp): 17 miles (8.5 RT from camp for 2 peaks + 8.5 miles hike out)
Vertical: 3.2k ascent and 4.9k ft descent
Time: ~11 hours, excluding 1 hr packing up camp

We started off from camp even a bit earlier than the day before as Kent was anxious to get back to Grand Junction at a reasonable hour. This time, we took the trail all the way to the pass. It provided a breathtaking preview of the Window Peak and another viewing angle of the Rio Grande Pyramid.

Pt 13,017 was first on the agenda, and we nicknamed it "Little Jagged". The idea was to stay on top of the ridge, dropping to the right or left (when it made sense) to bypass the difficulties that required climbing up and over. About 400 ft from the summit, we gained the ridge via a weakness which we felt was around Class 4+ and stayed on the ridge proper the rest of the way.

Pt 13,017

Engaging the ridge

Little Jagged

A 13er # 500+?

Bluebird day in Weminuche

Windows, RGP and Pt 13,278

Heading back

Bypassing some of the ridge difficulties

Tricky downclimb

Little Jagged

Finishing the climb

We retraced our steps back to the saddle, where we said our good-byes. Kent had already tagged "Window peak" on a prior trip and was heading back to the camp and the trailhead. I continued solo on to "the Window peak".
The views were unique and I lingered on the summit and later at the Windows for a while. Eventually I made my way back to the trail and was back at the camp by 1pm.


Traversing under the cliffs

Heading back to the Opal lake

Back on trail

After packing the camp, I made a seemingly endless 8.5 mile trek back to the car in just over 4 hours, arriving shortly after 6pm.

Stopping on the way to sample wild strawberries

and try some bouldering near Weminuche pass

Total stats:
Mileage: ~34 miles
Vertical: ~9,500 ft
Time: ~23.5 hours over 3 days

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

 Comments or Questions

Great Job
09/05/2014 14:07
Great weekend outing!

CO Native

Great weather too
09/05/2014 15:33
Jealous of the weather you had there. Thanks for sharing.

Very serene.
09/05/2014 15:50
Both the area and your pictures, which are very nice.


NICE trip report
09/06/2014 01:58
Beautiful pics. Feel like I had Steven Spielberg with me with all those nice photos! I was too busy gasping for air trying to keep up to take any pics!


Forest health
09/07/2014 04:08
The spruce bugs absolutely ”wrecked” the forest! Impressive the coverage of dead trees. Great pictures.


09/07/2014 16:11
Nice report as always. I've never noticed the ”window” before; what a strange formation. How could that be formed?


Awesome Report!
09/10/2014 19:35
Thanks! This one is on my short list. RGP might be one of the most aesthetically pleasing peaks in Colorado!


04/02/2015 19:45
It was an enjoyable trek. I was glad to spend 3 days in the basin, as it was nice not to rush and have flexibility. I wasn't feeling that great on the 1st day, so having 2 extra days allowed to relax and still being able to hit all our goals.

Matt - I sure hope I'll see you on a few of my remaining Centennials! This MTB season must be over soon *I hope*

CO Native - the weather was great indeed. It was a bit windier than we'd have liked on Sunday, but one can't have everything! Monday weather was absolutely perfect though.

JosephG - thanks! Tagging RPG via the couloir is very creative. Glad it worked out for you and congrats on finishing Top 100 - what a diverse bunch of mountains! What a day to be on Jagged - looked absolutely blue bird without any hint of raging Weminuche thunderstorms.

Kent - I hope to see you on your ”Big Finisher” weekend sometime next year. Now you know you'll get some decent photos & media coverage! Just pick a nice sunny day, please! Also, I think you are forgetting that it was me who was grasping for air trying to catch up to you - at least I have an excuse - photo taking

Rcizzle - re.beetle kill. We noticed the same thing - very sad. We encountered very few animals, probably because the forests are dead. Although in Weminuche, this area seemed to be much more reminiscent of La Garitas, where beetle also killed all the forests.

Jason - thanks. Window can really be seen well from Turret/Pigeon/Jagged. Not sure exactly how it's formed, but it appeared to be all volcanic rock.

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