Peak(s):  Jupiter Mtn  -  13,830 feet
Pigeon Pk  -  13,972 feet
Turret Pk A  -  13,835 feet
Date Posted:  03/23/2019
Modified:  07/16/2019
Date Climbed:   08/29/2018
Author:  HikerGuy
 The Lonely Goat Tour - Chicago and Ruby Basins  

Dates: 8/29/18 to 9/1/18 (4 days, 3 nights)

Stats: ~44.5 miles and 14,800 feet

Day 1 - Drive from Boulder to Purgatory TH and pack into Chicago Basin, camp at 11,050' (14.8mi and 6h 0m)
Day 2 - Hike Jupiter Mountain, break camp and pack over Twin Thumbs pass to Ruby Basin, camp at 11,610' (8.9mi and 7h 20m)
Day 3 - Hike Pigeon Peak and Turret Peak, break camp and pack down to Ruby Lake, camp at 10,840' (7.2mi and 7h 40m)
Day 4 - Break camp, pack out to Purgatory Flats TH and drive home to Boulder (13.6 miles and 6h 25m)


This trip along with a visit to Vestal Basin were the highlights of 2018. Due to the extreme fire season the D&SNGR was not dropping off hikers, but I'm not a fan of the train and would not have ridden it anyway. It was a unique experience to be in Chicago Basin with no people. I saw one other tent and spoke with a single person. I did not see anyone in Ruby Basin either. The goats must have been lonely because a group of 20 greeted me as I was setting up camp and they all came back to see me off the next day. Even with so many of them, they were very well behaved, not pushy at all.

The hike to Chicago Basin was the hardest part of the trip. It was a long day after the drive from Boulder. I left Purgatory at 12:30pm and arrived in Chicago Basin at 6:30pm. I went about setting up camp and before I knew it, I was surround by goats. They kept me company as I filtered water and ate dinner. The next morning I left for Jupiter at 7:15am and returned to camp at 10:45am. Jupiter is very straightforward with some fun scrambling near the summit.

I packed up camp and headed up to Twin Lakes at 11:45am. The hike up to Twin Thumbs Pass is easy with good trail to the lakes and mellow terrain above the lakes. The traverse across upper Noname Basin is a bit loose, but not too bad. Not sure I would do it with a pack, if it was not dry. I arrived in the upper meadow of Ruby Basin at 3:35pm. What an impressive place with sheer walls and peaks rising above the meadow on both sides. I settled in early to rest up for Pigeon and Turret.

Pigeon is a neat peak. A pain in the ass to get to, but a nifty summit with impressive views. Pigeon is kind of like Longs in that you have to traverse around 3/4's of the mountain. The traverse terrain is easy, but you lose quite a bit of elevation. I never found the Class 4 crux that Roach describes. I found a well-cairned route that was Class 3 max. After coming down Pigeon, you have to traverse back around and up to the saddle with Turret. I was feeling a bit tired by this point, but the weather was holding, so onward and upward. Nothing difficult on Turret other than fighting fatigue. You get a great view of Pigeon from Turret and that made it worth it.

I wanted to shorten the trip out on the last day, so I packed up camp after climbing Pigeon and Turret and headed down to Ruby Lake. Trail in Ruby Basin can be faint at times, but I had no trouble finding my way. Ruby Lake is jaw-dropping beautiful. That turquoise color is mesmerizing, I couldn't stop taking photos. I didn't split my times for Pigeon/Turret and the hike down to Ruby Lake. I started the day a little before 6:50am and was at the lake by 2:30pm.

I woke up to light rain, but it soon ended and I was able to pack up camp. I left the lake at 8:35am and made my way down the trail to the Animas River. This is one steep trail. I recall a debate in a discussion thread about which direction is best, ascending Ruby/descending Chicago or ascending Chicago/descending Ruby. The argument for the former is that the hike down is easier when you are fatigued, put it on cruise control. But the trail up Ruby is SO steep, I would not want to do it with a backpack. Just my opinion, I was happy with the direction I took. I arrived back at Purgatory at 3pm, changed clothes and headed home.

DAY 1 - Pack into Chicago Basin

First view of Pigeon and Turret from the Purgatory Trail. This photo is cropped, they are further away than they appear.

Crossing the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad track on the Animas River Trail.

Pigeon and Turret are getting closer! Last time I was on this trail the Animas River was orange from a large mine wastewater discharge.

Arriving in upper Chicago Basin, I was surprised to see all of the dead spruce trees. Jupiter Mountain is one of those peaks, but not sure which one

First night's campsite in Chicago Basin.

Evening sun on surrounding peaks.

Baby goat!

Twenty goats greeted and surrounded me until I went to bed.

Mountain goats are not very shy.

DAY 2 - Jupiter Mountain

Old mine on the Columbine Pass Trail on the way up to Jupiter Mountain.

14ers Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak viewed from atop Jupiter Mountain.

Hazel Lake viewed from atop Jupiter Mountain.

Ran across the goats napping on my way down from Jupiter Mountain.

Back at camp, the weather was perfect all day.

The goats came back to see me off as I was packing up camp.

DAY 2 cont. - Hike Over Twin Thumbs Pass to Ruby Basin

Headed up the trail to Twin Lakes on my way to Twin Thumbs Pass. Very grateful for the good weather on this exposed portion of the trip.

A right turn for Jupiter Mountain and a left turn for Twin Thumbs Pass.

Cascading stream on the way up the Twin Lakes.

Arriving at Twin Lakes is always a special moment.

Sunlight Peak (right) above Twin Lakes.

Headed up to Twin Thumbs Pass, low point to the left of the left tower.

On top of Twin Thumbs Pass. Why did I keep calling it Twin Lakes when there was only one lake? Now you know. 14er Windom Peak on left.

Looking across at Ruby-Noname Pass from atop Twin Thumbs Pass. Unfortunately had to lose some elevation to make it across.

Looking back at Twin Thumbs Pass on my way up to the top of Ruby-Noname Pass.

Looking into Ruby Basin from atop Ruby-Noname Pass. Pigeon Peak in center.

Small unnamed lake in upper Ruby Basin. Turret peak (left) and Pigeon Peak (right).

My campsite for night two. No greeter goats today.

Nice stream next to tent for filtering water.

Setting sun illuminating the surrounding rock towers.

DAY 3 - Hike Pigeon Peak and Turret Peak

Headed up to the saddle between Pigeon and Turret. Waning gibbous moon over Pigeon.

And just like that the rising sun lights up the east face of Pigeon Peak.

Looking over at Turret Peak from atop Pigeon Peak. Getting to Pigeon is not easy, you have to do a long descending traverse around three quarters of the peak before climbing up.

Looking over at Arrow, Vestal and the Trinity Peaks from atop Pigeon Peak.

Looking over at Pigeon Peak from atop Turret Peak.

Looking over at 14er Mount Eolus from atop Turret Peak.

One goat bid me farewell as I packed up before heading down to Ruby Lake.

DAY 3 cont. - Hike Down to Ruby Lake

Hiking down to Ruby Lake. I knew it was going to be special from the first glimpse.

The water was so clear, that's a submerged spruce tree.

My campsite for night three, had the place to myself. In fact, I never saw anyone in Ruby Basin.

Outflow end of Ruby Lake.

Ruby Lake. The turquoise color was mesmerizing.

DAY 4 - Hike Out to Purgatory Flats TH

The wind was calm in the morning allowing for beautiful reflections.

Back down on the Animas River Trail, looking back at Pigeon and Turret. The weather was not great on the last day, but I was grateful for the cloud cover keeping temps cool.

A last look back at Pigeon and Turret on my way back up the Purgatory Trail. There is no easy approach to this dynamic duo of peaks.

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

04/18/2019 13:18
Brings back memories, will have to get back there soon


Nice report
08/07/2020 19:06
And good job crushing it solo

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