Peak(s):  Ouray, Mt  -  13,971 feet
Date Posted:  12/12/2015
Date Climbed:   07/29/2015
Author:  Summit Assassin
 Mt. Ouray - The Devils Armchair  

Mt. Ouray - West Ridge
Wednesday, July 29th, 2015
Marshall Pass trailhead - Forest Service 200C
Route Description
Depart Cabin: 6:16am
Summit: 9:15am
Descend: 9:53am
Arrive Cabin: 12:26pm

Mt. Ouray has always intrigued me. On a clear day from the back deck on our spot in Salida you can see it. I've hiked nearly all of the Sawatch 14ers, but never with my immediate family. As my children grow, taking them with me has become more of a reality. When my son was three we daycamped on Marshall Pass and had wonderful views of Ouray and The Devils Armchair.

After building it up, preparing his gear, and researching the route we decided to go hiking the next fall. It was a blast! While I had outside hopes of making it to the top, we broke treeline and ran into a fierce crosswind. It was all he could do to stay upright. After making it nearly to the ridge we stopped, took in the views, and then headed back down.

Heading up through the forest with Mom!

At the cabin off of FS200 resting following a beautiful morning hike.

Years went by as I ventured into the San Juans and Elks with friends, scrambling up more of Ouray's taller kin. In 2014, after watching my son walk up Huron with ease I decided it was time for us to give Ouray another go. With our trusted Salida friend and a great forecast we headed up into the woods.

The most complicated aspect of the hike is bushwhacking through the woods. Keep heading up, following game trails as they zig-zag up the hill. If you venture too far to the west you will run into a small stream and barbed wire fence. To the east and you will run into a gnarly bowl. Soon enough the ridge will creep out through the trees and your path will be obvious.

The route was not entirely void of wildlife. A small herd of deer watched us as we headed up the hill.

Once we reached the ridge proper the entire route spilled out before us.

We followed the ridge around to the north, gently walking in and out of game trails while taking in the incredible views.

After turning east at around 12,600' we made our way up the increasingly steeper and rockier terrain. Never more than ten feet from the top of the ridge, we found ourselves taking whichever side was easier for my son. During the gentle and flat section (12,600 - 12,800) we kept primarily to the south of the ridge. Once the true assault began (12,800 - 13,800), we remained almost entirely on the north side of the ridge. It's not complicated if you have time and are patient enough to take it.


Talus adorns the final 500' to the summit. Here we are bypassing the white rocky outcropping, with some rocks larger than my son!

The last 300' was quite steep but ultimately worth it as we scrambled over boulders to the top.

Taking a rest and looking back at the route.

After first gazing upon her six years earlier my son was on top of Mt. Ouray. We celebrated with the traditional Moon Pie, dropped our packs, and took in the incredible views. Undoubtedly biased from a keen understanding of nearly every peak, valley and town within eyesight, Mt. Ouray's view was captivating.

Southern Sawatch, with Shavano and Tabeguache standing guard of the Arkansas River Valley.

The beautiful Arkansas River Valley.

Methodist Mountain and the northern ridge of the Sangre De Cristo moutains.

Peering down into The Devils Armchair!

After calling our family, eating more food, and exploring the summit we headed back down. Shortly off the summit looking west at the route:

Considering my hopes to make the summit five years earlier, when he was four, looking at this picture makes me smile. He was a trooper.

Looking back up the route, nearly halfway down the steeper sections.

Yes buddy, we just went up there! Well deserved dried mangos...

Broad, grassy and gentle western shoulder of Mt. Ouray.

The weather was perfect but news had arrived that Moonlight Pizza was being delivered at 1:00pm. Our pace naturally increased.

Heading back into treeline.

In our haste to get fresh pizza we ventured too far to the west and found ourselves up against the mud and muck of Poncha Creek. As mentioned earlier, if you are going to error to one side on the decent, error to the east or left side. Marshall Pass runs for a long straight line heading up to the trailhead. At the very worst, you would run into it and hike the road back to your vehicle or camp.



As we headed back into town I was reminded of the incredible journey to Ouray's summit. It had taken five years to fully realize the goal. Even as my son ages and eventually heads off into the world two things remain absolutely certain. The mountains aren't going anywhere and adventure wins over altitude (13,971') every day of the week.

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

Enjoyed the report!!
12/12/2015 23:49
Reminded me of hiking Ouray a few years ago. We hiked it from Gray’s Creek though, so it was quite different from your route. It was really hazy the day we summited Mt. Ouray, so we missed out on what I had been told was some of the most unique summit views from any mountain. Oh well, it is a mountain I really would not mind repeating someday... I also look back fondly at all the fun times I have had with my kids in the mountains over the last 9 years. Enjoy these times, they fly by.

I was on the summit with you
12/15/2015 00:14
Good pics and report. I was one of the two guys that showed up at the summit while you were there. (The younger of the two) My friend took the pic of your trio. On Ourays page I also have a TR from that day as well.


Nice trip up!
12/20/2015 11:27
I like a kid who eats moonpies! I still have nightmares from my trip on Ouray. The chief wasn’t too happy with me for trekking up the middle!

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