Peak(s):  Jagged Mtn  -  13,824 feet
Date Posted:  08/05/2017
Modified:  08/11/2017
Date Climbed:   07/27/2017
Author:  mountainman102
Additional Members:   CliminDave
 Wet in the Weminuche - Dave Completing the Centennials!  

Route: North Face *Classic* with Noname Creek Approach
Needleton TH: 8,212 ft.
Summit: 13,824 ft.
Distance: 18.7 miles
Total Elevation Gain: ~6,300 ft. (GPS said we descended this, Joe's was totally off and Dave's only had us for the descent)
Climbing Time (Summit Day): 8 hours and 40 minutes

Background: Dave and Joe have been eyeing Jagged for two years now and have made two attempts already. The first was stopped before the train as a flat tire, construction, and a string of bad events caused them to miss the train. The second was halted as 6-8 inches of fresh snow fell the night before and they decided to climb Jupiter instead. This worked out well for me as I was able to join them for Dave's attempt to complete Colorado's Centennials!

Gear List: Here are some of the items we brought which you would possibly not need for a simple hike: Backpack, Daypack, Water, Pack Cover, Approach Shoes, Hiking Shoes, Camp Shoes, Food for multiple days, Bowl/Utensils, Compass/GPS, Map/Trail Description, Headlamp, Extra Batteries (3A and 2A), First Aid Kit, Rain coat, Climbing Gloves, Helmet, Harness, 50-meter rope, Cams #'s: 7, 6, 4, 3, Slings, Carabiners, 3 pieces of webbing, and 3 Rappel rings.
**Note: We also brought nuts and more cams, but did not use them. Make sure to bring climbing shoes, your approach shoes will be slippery and unpleasant.**
Sorry the GPX file only has our GPS track from the summit down, we were having GPS issues on the way up. Hope it is still useful!

Dave and I with the Narrow Gauge (Photo: Joe)

Day 1:

Early Tuesday morning, Dave, Joe, and I departed heading for Silverton. We arrived in Silverton, enjoyed some good BBQ, and boarded the train. We were off the train at Needleton at 1545 and walked across the bridge where we split from the other folks who got off the train with us. They all went right (south) and we went left heading towards good old Watertank Hill. Our plan initially was to go in 2.5 miles and camp for a short first day, but that plan did not last long. Gerry Roach's Colorado's Thirteeners book provides a solid description of the approach as well as the climb. The trail begins as a gentle, easy to follow trail as it follows the animas river. Just under a half-mile in, you will reach a meadow. The trail splits into a Y here and you must follow the fainter trail to the left or you may end up at Pigeon and Turret. The trail goes directly through the first few campsites as it approaches North Pigeon Creek. The creek is easy to bypass and then you begin ascending North as you rise above the Animas. You will be abruptly greeted by Watertank Hill where you climb up steeply. The top of the hill almost makes this section worthwhile especially if you manage to catch a train filling up with water.

Good timing in the top of Watertank Hill

The other side of the hill can end your trip sooner than expected if you slip especially if it is wet and muddy. Hopefully you got your stretching in before and are warmed up for this slippery slope. The trail continues past Ruby Creek with a few ups and downs as you head towards Noname Creek.

Nice bridge over Ruby Creek
Looking back at our crossing of Noname Creek

It is likely you will get wet crossing this one and we changed into our camp shoes (flip-flops, crocs, and sandals) to head across. The trail stops at the best crossing without going too far out of your way. The crossing was at 2.2 miles according to the GPS and we arrived at 1710. After crossing, we decided to press on as there was still daylight and it would give us the option to summit the next day if we had a weather window. We passed a few inviting campsites right after the crossing realizing we had to go at least 3 more miles to reach the next ones. The trail begins to slope up and does not ease up for a long time. The persistent uphill battle does not even cover very much distance, it just slows you down. After some time, the trail finally eases up and you continue through some bushes, willows, and other plants sure to soak your legs if it had rained recently. Despite the forecast predicting a 70% chance of rain, we managed to stay dry during the hike (at least from the waist-up).


We finally arrived at camp after about 5.2 miles at 8:00 PM. I was exhausted and could not wait to sit-down. Perhaps hiking an extended version of the Decalibron/South Bross which somehow ended up being 10 miles two days before was not the best preparation for the easy first day Dave talked about. The GPS read 10,476 feet above sea-level and we decided this was where we would stop. We set the alarms for 5 in case we wanted to push for the summit.

Day 2:

The irritating alarm blared early the next morning and we realized it had rained through the night and clouds had already filled the sky. This quickly eliminated any summit hopes, but we got to sleep in! A nice and slow morning with a hot breakfast and no rush to begin hiking was a pleasant change to the normal morning routine as we did not leave camp until 0840. We reached the dilapidated Jagged Cabin at 0905 and I remembered why the Weminuche is one of my favorite places in Colorado. The views are phenomenal! There are great views of Gray Needle and Knife Point here making me think about another trip up Noname.

Not a bad place for a cabin (Photo: Joe)
Anyone willing to fix up Jagged Cabin?

At 6.9 miles from the trailhead, we reached some more campsites at around 0935. We decided to continue where we blew past the sharp left turn where the trail begins to climb back up the steep hill to the Northeast. We crossed Noname creek once again (thanks misleading cairns) on the more distinct trail which heads towards Two Thumbs Pass. Once we were safely across Noname creek and soaking wet from the ankles down, we realized our mistake and head back across the creek. (Image reveals cairn where you turn left when going up as you enter from the side where Dave's Boot is, you can see another cairn hidden back in the woods).
Here is the turnoff to the left, if you reach Noname Creek, you went too far.

This ended up making our day a bit more interesting as we could not find the trail, but we knew it went up, so we bushwhacked ascending climber's left of the creek. This steep and unforgiving detour was awful with heavy packs and no trail. So obviously when the hard work was done and we got to where the trail eases up for a short bit, we found the trail. This was at 1037, at 11,450 feet, about 7.9 miles in. We gained some more elevation and we finally reached the top of the hill where the basin opened-up to us. There were campsites on both sides of the trail here and after looking ahead, we decided this would be the best place to camp. Our fantastic campsite was definitely in my top-3 campsites ever at 11,844 feet. The time was 1100 and the GPS read 8.5 miles. We realized we had the day to kill and we enjoyed the stunning basin and a less than stunning marmot.

Camp is not half bad... (Photo: Dave)
Representing Colorado (Photo: Joe)

Photo: Joe

The clouds kept us in camp as rain threatened the whole day and the weather forecast proved itself again as it rained twice during the day. Glad we did not try for a summit today! Despite the desire to hike, a nap felt real good as well as many hours of staring into the Weminuche. We finally called it a night and hoped the weather would clear in the morning.

Day 3:

Once again, the stupid alarm interrupted my restful sleep as we got ready to go in the dark. We hit the trail at 0450 and began by already getting wet from the willows. After a few hundred feet the willows briefly cleared where the trail goes through a small clearing. In hopes to stay dry (and because we could not really see where the trail continued through the willows), we went a little north (ascending climber's left) up the rock slopes to skirt around the willows. This genius plan was great as we still managed to get wet from all of the plants and took longer than it should have. Nevertheless, we continued on the left side of the basin trying to stay on the grassy benches above the cliffs. We managed to find the trail up here at some point and followed this up all the way to the saddle. The gully right before the saddle was a lot of loose rock and scree, but remained class 2. The saddle came at 0620 and were rewarded with a breathtaking sunrise.

Sunrise on Jagged Pass
First views of Jagged's North Face (Photo: Joe)

After determining where we thought was the best way to go, with some assistance from Roach. We began the climb (blue represents the approach, black is our hiking path in the class 2-3+, red is where we used the rope). The image depicts my best guess of our route (Roach has much better image in his book and there are also other reports with images of their routes).

My best guess of our route (sorry image is not the best quality)

After the 2+ approach, the first crux came rather quickly and we brought out the rope. Glad it was finally worthwhile after over 9 miles. Dave lead, placing 3 cams for protection. We used cams #7, #4, and #3. There was water on the left side of us, so we stayed a little right. Dave was belayed by Joe and in turn, belayed Joe and I. The first pitch was achieved at 0735 and the 50-meter rope proved sufficient.

Dave leading crux 1

The long, cautious walk to the second crux was mainly class 2+ filled with grassy ledges and a surprisingly decent trail. After getting cliffed-out from above, we turned west (ascending climber's right) and gained some elevation. We reached a nice little resting spot between two rocks overlooking the gully and crux 2. We hugged the giant rock face and chose to go over the chock stone in the one foot crack. Some people mentioned they slipped under it, even without a pack it is wet and very tight. Although going over is awkward, is seemed much better than trying to squeeze under. Dave went up with no protection and after the first move over the chock stone, there is no technical work to the top of the crux, it is just walking on grassy ledges. Since it is better to be safe than sorry and fall off the north face of Jagged, Dave belayed us from above and we were up and over in no time.

Crux 2 (Photo was taken on the way out which is why our rope for rappelling is there)

The shorter section after the 2nd crux was a nice, class 2+/3 climb up to the base of the 3rd crux. Crux 3 reveals 3 options of routes to ascend. We chose the east side (left) of the western system. We did not even look at the eastern route after reading about which way to go and the western most route seemed more difficult. This proved to be a good choice as Dave lead once again. He placed a #6 cam and we followed heading almost directly up making a right at the end to exit the crux.

Joe preparing for Crux 3

After achieving the top at 0835, we scampered towards the notch and were greeted by excellent views of Windom, Sunlight, Sunlight Spire, Eolus, and North Eolus. The views also revealed a mountain goat in which I was tempted to throw rocks at for my revenge for their behavior in the Chicago Basin in June. I decided one shy goat was better than 10 evil ones and let it off easy.

Views from the notch

We headed southwest for a moment and then turned left (east) climbing a class 3 crack. The top of this rock revealed the airy class 3 traverse. We decided since we had a rope, we would use it. The first steps to get behind a large rock are simple with little exposure. The first of two airy steps is coming out from behind the rock. We descended about 5-10 feet and made an airy move to skirt around. The wind on the bottom of your heels will bring all of your attention to not leaning back. Since we had a rope, we figured might as well use it and belayed each other across.

Joe skirting around the rock of the first airy section of the traverse

Once across section one, there is another airy traverse around a rock which you can easily climb up and see your path. We set up a quick anchor on top of this rock and briefly rappelled down the other side bypassing the airy part of this section. Although it is possible to go around, we were happy to reduce exposure especially this close to the top.

Our little rappel to bypass the second airy section

The traverse ends on a nice open area with an obvious route up. The chimney is about 50-60 feet tall and is a fun class 3 scramble until the very top. Exiting the chimney was a class 4/4+ move and took a minute to figure out. Perhaps we missed some easy exit out the top with a chock stone as mentioned by Roach.

Final chimney (Photo: Dave)

Once on top, there is a series of rock blocks and ledges which must be overcome. This class 3 scramble takes you directly to the summit ridge. Turn ascending climber's left and scamper up a trail to the summit! The long-awaited summit arrived at 1010 and Dave took his first-step on to his final summit of the Centennial Peaks!! Huge congratulations to him as this is an incredible accomplishment! The summit provided some breath-taking views of this insane area of Colorado which we enjoyed for as long as we could. I guess this beats standing on top of a landfill!

Congrats on #100 Dave! (Photo: Joe)
Garbage views...

The clouds were building and it was time to go. We began our first rappel right off the summit ridge and luckily landed right where we had set up the slings and carabiner to anchor us down the second airy part of the traverse. This worked well as we grabbed our stuff and made way for the first airy section of the traverse.

Joe rappelling from the summit ridge

It was much less intimidating climbing back up between the rocks, but it still was relieving to get behind the initial large rock. Distant thunder rumbled as the race against the weather began. We reached the 3rd crux and tied in to a piece of webbing already set up with a carabiner (the red webbing seemed most secure ‘ July 2017).

Myself rappelling Crux 3 (Photo: Dave)

We set up our own rappel station for crux 2 all though we probably would have been fine without it. Despite this, safety is more important and it did allow for us to rope down all the way to the gully.

Rappelling Crux 2 (Photo: Dave)

We descended to the first crux and rappelled once again on the existing red webbing just as the light rain began to splat on my helmet.

Joe rappelling Crux 1 (Photo: Dave)

We hurried across the grassy slopes below the north face reaching the saddle at 1220 as the thunder was closer than my usual preference of non-existent. We quickly descended the other side of the saddle and it felt like we were ahead of the storm at this point. We marched down finding the trail we missed on the grassy ledges and returning to camp at 1330.

Dave arriving back to camp

We enjoyed a warm meal celebrating number 100 for Dave and a big accomplishment for Joe and I. After packing up camp, we threw on the heavy packs, departed at 1500, and trudged down the steep hills.

Backpacking out with views of Knife Point

Jagged cabin came at 1616 and we relished our last few moments of dryness. The rain came shortly after and just soaked everything around us. Thankfully, my pack cover had done its job as we rolled into our campsite from two nights before at 0450. Our total mileage read 14.2 miles revealing a 5.7 mile day and about a 2.4 mile round-trip from our high camp of 11,844 feet to the summit and back. Sleep found me easily as I crashed right away.

Day 4:

We departed camp at 0700 beginning the long trek back to the train. Noname creek came at 0840 after a much faster descent and we headed for Watertank Hill. Ascending Watertank sucked as it was slippery and wet. We finally arrived at the top at 0940 and waited in hopes for a train. We were not so lucky this time and gave up around 1005. The rest of the trail was a relaxing walk out and we arrived at the bridge at 1040. The GPS read 18.7 miles round-trip and we definitely felt it in our legs. The other side of the bridge greeted us with 25 people (the first we had seen since we got off the train).

Nature (Photo: Joe)
More Nature

Good old Narrow Gauge arrived and relieved us from our packs. The wonderful Weminuche Wilderness served us well and once again, I am excited for the next adventure!

Success! (Photo: Joe)

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

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

Congratulations Sir!!!
08/05/2017 08:02
What a Mountain. Jagged has everything. Long approach, difficult climb. In a amazing place. Impressive accomplishment.


08/05/2017 09:30
Very nicely done! Thanks for the excellent report and pictures. Brings back lots of memories.


well done
08/05/2017 16:20
and nice report!


Great Job!
08/06/2017 11:57
It looks like despite the weather it was a good week for finishers on Jagged!

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