Peak(s):  Jagged Mtn  -  13,824 feet
Date Posted:  09/09/2019
Modified:  06/23/2020
Date Climbed:   09/03/2019
Author:  HikerGuy
Additional Members:   hr011242, macgyver
 Forty Miles for The Finish  


Dates: 9/1/19 to 9/4/19 (4 days, 3 nights)
Trailhead: Purgatory Flats
Route: North Face (Standard)
Difficulty: Low Class 5
Distance: 40.60 miles
Elevation: 9,754 feet


Day 1 - Hiked in from Purgatory and camped at Noname Basin turnoff (5h 40m/12.98 miles)
Day 2 - Hiked up Noname Basin and camped at 11,800, met my train-riding partners here (5h 20m/5.50 miles)
Day 3 - Summited and hiked back down Noname Basin to camp at turnoff (11h 0m/9.14 miles)
Day 4 - Hiked out to Purgatory (5h 50m/12.98 miles)


I completed the 14ers in 2015 after starting in 2005 and had no intention of pursuing another list. Somehow I caught the bug again in May 2018 and decided to go for the Top 100. At the time I had 7 out of 47 completed. Last summer I was able to knock out 34 leaving me 6 to finish this summer. The big snow year changed some plans, but eventually I had whittled the list down to one...Jagged Mountain. Redemption on Dallas Peak a week earlier had me excited to finish up the Centennials.

The plan all summer long had been to join up with Rick and Heather. They were going to climb Jagged then move over to Vestal Basin to finish the Top 100 on Wham Ridge (they did! congrats to them!!). Jagged is a peak of many distinctions, one of them being logistics. This mountain is remote and difficult to reach. I'm staunchly anti-train. I love to see the choo choos go by and totally get a kick out of it, but for some reason it doesn't seem right to ride one to approach a peak. Rick and Heather are decidedly pro-train. I settled on the Purgatory-Noname approach after initially considering the Vallecito-Sunlight approach. I was concerned about fording Vallecito Creek and the other option, Beartown, required a tough 4wd approach. The Noname approach would also allow me to hike in from Needleton with my partners. Unfortunately, they had trouble getting a reservation for our original itinerary and that altered my plans (earlier start time for trailhead parking reasons) so I ended up packing in ahead of them meeting up at an 11,800' camp.

Normally I would leave Boulder early, drive down to Purgatory, park and pack in during the afternoon. It being Labor Day weekend, I was concerned about finding a parking space at the trailhead. So, I decided to drive down the evening before and sleep in the Santa Fe Inn. That way the day hikers would be gone and hopefully a few folks had packed out and I would get a parking spot. Turned out to be a good call as I got the last parking spot! Or at least the last spot I was comfortable leaving my car at for four days. The next morning I awoke and began the hike down to the Animas River. This is my third time hiking in from Purgatory and I always enjoy it. The water in Cascade Creek is so freaking clear! Then you cross the Animas River and it's a beautiful stroll up to Needleton. The rushing river, grassy meadows, passing trains and distant peaks, just gorgeous. With my altered schedule I did most of my hiking during the cool morning hours and spent my afternoons resting in my hammock.

The only notable feature on the hike from Needleton to the Noname Basin turnoff is Water Tank Hill. It is super steep and somewhat loose, but it is also very short. I thought it was overhyped, don't worry about it if you approach this way. I reached my campsite just past the Noname turnoff after about 13 miles. My pack was only 35 pounds, so I was not too tired. I proceeded to make camp and relax the afternoon away. However, I forgot to pack my bug spray and the flies were terrible. Not sure spray works on them anyways. My only respite was swinging in my hammock.

I started making my way up Noname Basin the next morning. I noticed that a group had settled in near me during the night. Up until this point, the only people I had seen were train riders headed up Chicago Basin. I chatted them up hoping for some beta on Jagged, but they had only descended Noname after coming from Chicago Basin. However, they did give me good info on the best way to navigate the avalanche debris. A little bit later on I would pass two more hikers who did attempt Jagged, but they never got on route so still no beta. Sounds like they climbed Gray Needle or the prominent point next to Knife Point. They also told me the best way to get through the avalanche area.

The easiest way through the avalanche debris is to cross over to the right (south) side of the creek and continue until you are through the slide paths, then cross back over to the left (north) side of the creek to continue on the trail. Btw, the trail up Noname is excellent. Once past the the slides, I arrived at Jagged Cabin. I wasn't expecting much, but I was expecting more, there is not much left. This is where the views started to become impressive. Upper Noname is easily in my top 5 basins, fighting it out with Ruby for the top spot. The last steep section prior to 11,800 was brutal. I had enjoyed cool morning hiking until this point and now it was full sun, no shade and no breeze. When I topped out and saw the nice camping area, I was done. It's a nifty campsite with a small gorge off to the side and 360 degrees of peaks. Once again I ended up spending the afternoon swinging in my hammock, this time it was mosquitos. Rick and Heather showed up at sunset, wiped out from their heavy packs. We agreed on an easy start time and went to bed.

Summit day! After a leisurely start we made our way up to Jagged Pass. Well, sort of. The trail is still surprisingly good with some helpful cairns along the way. For some reason, I wandered straight instead of veering slightly right to what is obviously Jagged Pass and we ascended the north saddle. Doh!! Not only was it looser, but it was an extra 200' feet of gain. We didn't lose much time though and the view of Jagged's north face was even more impressive from our accidental perch. After a short fun little scramble over to the real Jagged Pass, we were back on route and ready to climb. Rather than describe the climb in detail, check out the photos and captions below. We each soloed all of the cruxes. We downclimbed the summit chimney and made three rappels with a 60 meter rope. Jagged is a fantastic mountain!

I said goodbye to Rick and Heather when we got back below Jagged Pass. They headed towards Balsam Lake on their way to Vestal and I headed back down, packed up camp and descended back to the Animas River. I managed to make camp and finish dinner as the sun set. The hike back out to Purgatory was uneventful. I only wish I could say the same for the drive home on I-70. I swear I am done with that road.

What's up next? The Bicentennials, 25 down, 75 to go!

DAY 1 - Pack to Noname Basin turnoff

Crossing the Animas River.

Crossing the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (DSNGRR) track to continue on the Animas River Trail.

First train of the morning headed to Silverton from Durango.

View of Pigeon and Turret Peaks from the Animas River Trail.

View from the top of Water Tank Hill. Super steep up and down, but short.

Relaxing in the hammock at my campsite by the Animas River. A luxury item well worth its 8.6 ounces of weight.

My campsite by the Animas River. Stayed here on nights 1 and 3.

DAY 2 - Pack up to 11,800 in upper Noname Basin

The remains of Jagged Cabin about halfway up Noname Basin.

Looking up into Noname Basin from Jagged Cabin.

Looking back at the meadow above Jagged Cabin.

The upper meadow in Noname Basin.

A shot of the little gorge next to camp with Sunlight Peak in the upper left.

View of Peak Five from campsite.

It threatened to rain, but never did. Great weather for the entire trip.

Some sunset hammock time while waiting for Rick and Heather to arrive.

View of Knife Point and Sunlight Peak from camp.

View of Knife Point from camp.

And one more shot of Knife Point.

Alpenglow on Sunlight Peak.

And a little twilight action.

DAY 3 - Summit and return to Noname Basin turnoff

Morning sun on the surrounding peaks as we head up to Jagged Mountain.

A look at Jagged's north face from the north saddle of Jagged Pass (we were supposed to go up the south saddle, doh!)

At the base of the first crux (photo by Rick Howell).

A look up at the first crux. Rick and Heather allowed me to lead all of the cruxes as it was my finisher peak (in spite of taking the wrong gully up Jagged Pass).

A look back at Jagged Pass from above the first crux.

Heather making her way up the first crux on Jagged Mountain. We took a line to the immediate right of a stained sloping slab.

A view of the second crux area. I think the crux proper is to the immediate left of the camera and this is looking
at a bypass of sorts. The rappel drops down/over to the immediate left of this photo (out of frame).

Looking up at the third crux referred to as "the pie in the sky" due to the pie-shaped rock above it.

Making my way up the third crux (photo by Rick Howell).

Working my way up the summit chimney. We stemmed it up and down, feet on one side and hands/back/butt on the other. A few scoots and you
are up or down past the rock blocking easy passage. We did have to take our packs off, but they were easily handed up and down from one person
to another. (photo by Rick Howell).

Yours truly on the summit of Jagged Mountain. This was my last peak of Colorado's 100 highest mountains aka Centennials.

Summit selfie with Heather and Rick. (photo by Rick Howell).

Heather and Rick made me a party hat for the Centennial finish. The date was for our original trip schedule.

Looking southwest at Mount Eolus, Turret Peak, Pigeon Peak, Monitor Peak and Animas Mountain.

Looking northwest at Arrow Peak and Vestal Peak.

Looking northeast at Leviathan Peak and Vallecito Mountain. If you look closely, you can see a flight for life helicopter passing beneath Leviathan Peak.

Looking southwest at the Chicago Basin 14ers Windom Peak, Sunlight Peak and Mount Eolus.

Climbing back down to the summit chimney (photo by Rick Howell).

Heather downclimbing the summit chimney.

Rick and Heather exiting the south face ledge traverse.

Heather rappelling the second crux.

A look back at Jagged Mountain (far left) and Knife Point (center) as I make my way back down Noname Basin.

DAY 4 - Pack out to Purgatory TH

I caught the second train of the morning crossing the bridge on my way out.

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

09/09/2019 19:16
Nicely done! Great report and beautiful photos. Congrats on your finisher!


Well done!
09/10/2019 07:50
Nice report and summit photos. Hammock time appeared serene.

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