Peak(s):  Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Date Posted:  06/26/2017
Date Climbed:   06/19/2017
Author:  mountainman102
Additional Members:   CliminDave
 A Short Trek In the Chicago Basin  

Route: Northeast Ridge
Needleton Trailhead: 8,212 ft.
Summit Eolus & N. Eolus: 14,083 ft. & 14,039 ft.
Total Distance: 20.01 miles, Hike: 5.95 miles
Total Elevation Gain: ~6,758 ft.
Hiking Time (On Mountain): 7 hours and 55 minutes.

Day 1:

Sunday afternoon, Dave, Laura, Brandon, and I boarded the Narrow-Gauge Train in Silverton at 14:30.

Narrow-Gauge Train

The beautiful train ride ended in Needleton at 15:50 where we began to hike up the Chicago Basin. We arrived at the Needleton trailhead (8,212 ft.) at 16:05 and enjoyed the backpack in to the basin. The class 1 trail is very easy to follow and is very smooth and gentle.

The Backpack In

As you enter the basin, there are obvious signs of previous avalanches. We picked out our campsite at 19:40 after a 6.92-mile backpack in. The site was at 11,136 feet as there were not a lot of trees left for cover at the bottom of the basin. There were mountain goats everywhere! Unfortunately, the goats are no longer scared of people and were eager to get as close to us as possible. Please do not feed them or make them even more comfortable around you. Yelling and throwing sticks worked as a temporary deterrent to keep them away.

Fearless Mountain Goat, One of Many (Photo: Dave)

Day 2:

We had been checking the weather constantly and it appeared the weather would hold throughout the day. My cousin Laura and her fiance Brandon had flown in from Pennsylvania and were interested in doing a 14er, so Eolus was our only goal for the day. We departed camp at 07:20 for these reasons and headed up the trail. The class 1 trail was easy to follow for the most part and is well marked with cairns. The trail quickly steepened and we began gaining elevation quickly. As we neared Twin Lakes at 12,500 feet, we lost the trail as snow concealed the path.

South Side of Twin Lakes

We got slightly off course, but quickly found the trail again. The entire basin under Eolus' east face was snow covered and the trail disappeared once again.

Dave Hiking Up the Basin Below Eolus' East Face

Just below 13,000 feet, we turned north (right) to a snow-slope which still retained a lot of snow. The normal trail continues northeast on a broad ledge just below the ridge. The ascending traverse was snow covered and appeared more difficult than the snow-slope a little lower in the basin. Dave and I handed off our ice-axes to our out of town friends and began to kick steps up the snow.

Dave Hiking Up the Snow Slope (Blue Route=Our Path, Red Route=Normal Trail Ascending Traverse)

The snow-slope was in great condition to climb and was not too difficult. There was an obvious track of a previous glissade down a few days prior. We reached the 13,704 feet area known as Glacier Point and met some other hikers (the first we had seen all day) descending the rock face climber's left of the saddle between Eolus and North Eolus. Instead of walking all the way around on more snow to the saddle where the northeast ridge route follows, we decided to ascend where they had come down. The short section of the east face was more difficult than the normal route and we had to make a few class 4 moves with decent exposure. The route spiced up the climb quite a bit as exposure increased and there was no apparent trail.

Dave, Laura, and Brandon Climbing Up Under the Ridge (Climber's Left of the Saddle - Normal Trail)

We topped the ridge about 100 feet before the Catwalk and Laura decided this was far enough for her. She rested on the ridge while Brandon, Dave, and I continued to the section on the ridge known as the Catwalk. Although there was exposure on both sides of the ridge, we walked right on top of the ridge throughout the catwalk and the difficulty did not exceed class 3 and for the most part was class 1+ and 2.

Brandon on the Catwalk with Jagged Peeking Out in the Background

The Catwalk ends abruptly at a very large rock where the ridge steepens and we traversed south (left) to the ledges on Eolus' east face. These ledges were a fun scramble and I got to enjoy some fun route finding as snow was dispersed all over the ledges. The route is difficult to follow here due to the snow as well as the cairns are scattered everywhere. Make sure to carefully exam what path to take as it is not too difficult to get into some harder climbing. We managed to stay within the class 3/3+ realm despite the snow and achieved the top of the ridge close to the summit.

Brandon Climbing the Ridge (Photo: Dave)

We quickly scampered up the rest of the ridge to the summit arriving at 11:45 after a 3.07 mile ascent. The almost cloudless sky kept our spirits high as we enjoyed the gorgeous views.

Summit Views Of Jagged, Sunlight, Sunlight Spire, and Windom
Summit Pic

The ridge was a quick descent and we stayed on top for the majority of it only heading down the ledges for a short section about halfway to the Catwalk. We got back to where Laura had stopped and determined we would descend the normal route. We reached the Eolus ‘ N. Eolus saddle (13,860 ft.) and I knew I wanted to grab North Eolus while we were here. Brandon and I quickly scampered straight up the ridge.

Looking Up the Ridge of North Eolus

The ridge was an enjoyable class 2 walk with maybe one class 2+ move. We arrived at the summit at 13:00 and were very happy we decided to hike North Eolus as well. The ascent and descent was very short and fast, but provided great views of Eolus and the 13er, Jagged Mountain, in the opposite direction.

Brandon On the Summit of North Eolus with Eolus in the Background

We met back up with Dave and Laura on the saddle and enjoyed a fun glissade to glacier point. We continued the glissade down the snow-slope as Brandon and Laura enjoyed their first snow descent.

Laura Glissading
Looking Back Up the Snow-Slope

As the weather continued to hold, we enjoyed a slow descent with lots of picture breaks as the scenery is just incredible. After a nice, gentle hike down, we arrived at camp at 15:15 only to be greeted by more mountain goats. We calculated the total elevation gain of the climb to be about 3,423 feet (including N. Eolus). The astounding basin kept our attention for the rest of the day while we continued to shoo off the goats.

Goats Awaiting Our Return

Day 3:

Unfortunately, we needed to return home today, but my first experience in the Chicago Basin definitely has me excited for next time! After a well-needed rest, we departed camp at 07:25 and hiked down the gentle approach enjoying the views.

Leaving the Basin
Columbine (Photo: Dave)

The weather remained beautiful for the hike out and we arrived back at the Needleton trailhead at 10:05. This brought our total mileage to 20.01 miles and our total elevation gain to about 6,758 feet.

Until Next Time...

We caught the train back to Silverton and enjoyed some well-deserved BBQ. The trip was beautiful and I am excited to go back and grab the few peaks we did not have time to get!

**Note: The GPX Track File was from a GPS carried by Dave. This is why the track does not continue up North Eolus.

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

 Comments or Questions
Boggy B

Was that you?
06/27/2017 10:59
I think Kylie and I ran into you all at Needleton on the way out. If so, nice to meet you. Well done on your trip!


06/27/2017 11:03
I've been itching to make it out to Colorado and climb the Chicago Basin 14ers all year but my plans fell through and I'm stranded in Louisiana for the summer. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you and your amazing pictures! Great job!


Nice to meet you!
06/27/2017 11:23
I believe we did run into each other on the way out! Always cool to see people on here after meeting them. I hope your trip was enjoyable as well!

@davidh12 Hope you are able to make it out next summer!

Thank you
06/27/2017 14:29
Awesome, thank you!


Looks Fun... but
06/27/2017 18:52
Looks like a great time, beautiful photos! About the glissade technique, though... I realize this probably wasn't a steep slope but if Laura had had to self arrest, that axe is in a perfect position to either be ripped from her hands or put a blade through her face.


06/28/2017 18:34
Thanks for the report! Heading up there Saturday!


Choo choo!
06/28/2017 20:10
I never tire of a nice shot of the train and quality pics of Chicago basin. Great to see an early season narrative and helps me get my stoke on for hopefully a trip down there this season. Nice report!

Bring on the goats!
07/24/2017 21:12
What a fab trip report. Thanks for sharing. We are heading in there next week to attempt all 4. Can't wait!

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