Peak(s):  El Diente Peak  -  14,159 feet
Maroon Peak  -  14,156 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Maroon Peak  -  14,014 feet
Mt. Wilson  -  14,246 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,087 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Pyramid Peak  -  14,018 feet
Date Posted:  07/16/2020
Date Climbed:   07/14/2020
Author:  CaptCO
 The Devils Deadly Sunlight  

July 5th-July 14th 2020

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July 5-7th, Maroon Bells with a group of 5 including myself from 14ers.com. This would end up being the largest group I've hiked/climbed with since my 14er adventure begun. It would be Paul Millar, Isaac, Paul Carney, and his girlfriend (kick-ass climber) Brittany. I planned on Pyramid Sunday the 5th, while they drove into town that evening.

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Pyramid Peak was fun, and the trail was quiet with only goats and pikas around. Was glad to have brought crampons for the amphitheater gulley. Once above the larger cairns atop the headwall, I kick stepped up with poles to the actual amphitheater. Once on the 1000' loose slope leading to the saddle, the fun began and the rock was fairly stable as long as you check for holds. The "class 4" climbing was a lot more secure than the "class 3" but not much different. I quick hail shower of 15 minutes came through, and I was able to bunker and wait for more weather signs. No thunder or dark clouds appeared, and the skies brightened, lucky me! This would happen again about a week later. Was able to get the summit on mostly dry rock, and get down to the parking lot without anymore rain.

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The next day, I met up with Isaac, picked up Paul, and the other two climbers. We headed up to the parking lot once again, after switching vehicles. The trail up South Maroon went fast, but some parts of it required a few breathers. I noticed on a lot of the loose gulleys leading up to South Maroon, the solid ridge rock, which goes at class 4, can be a lot more fun.

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We tagged South Maroon, and I downed some water/snacks which were needed after margaritas the night prior. We started the traverse and the maroons became enjoyable at last. Most of the climbing on the harder sections was true low class 5, came upon one move that might've been 5.4 and very exposed.

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The trail off of North Maroon is pretty crusty, we basically switchbacked the ledges until we were able to gain trail. From there 2 of us stayed low on the boulder field following gpx, and the other 3 stayed high following cairns. The lower route was easier but required a bushwhack or two, and both led to CFI steps leading down to the trail split.

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4 days later, Paul Millar and myself set out for a possible 4-6 day trip in the San Juans. We hiked into Navajo Lake and found a good campsite just after the first tree break.

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The plan was to ascend El Diente's North Buttress route, traverse staying as true to the ridge as Paul felt comfortable, and descend Wilsons North Slopes. The buttress was very enjoyable and constant class 3 climbing with the occasional class 4+ move.

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The start of the traverse from Diente is obvious, as well as most of the route. We stayed ridge direct when possible, but dropped on the high points under the "Organ Pipes" climbers right. The rock was stable and it made quick-moving until we came back on the ridge and across the gendarmes. Grey wall was easier climbing than it seemed it would be, and a couple exposed class 4 moves, we were on Mt. Wilson.

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Due to snow, we basically hopped the saddle from Mt. Wilson and switchbacked the talus, where the path of least resistance seemed to be. Shortly afterward, we were on the trail, and back at camp. Packed out and headed for Durango, prepared to hike into Purgatory the next morning.

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Am I the only one who always says I packed too much and my 65+10L is too heavy? All I could think about while descending to the Animas River is how much this would suck going back up, after multi-days. We accidentally went straight at the Purgatory trail split. This led us to a heavy creek crossing which required shoes being taken off on two separate occasions. After the 1/4mi and 45min delay or so, we were above the river.

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This section of the Purgatory trail is basically a bunch of rocky class 1 humpdy humps until you come down several steep switchbacks. This is near Cascade I believe, the first main bridge crossing. Several nice camping sections with picnic tables. After the railroad track crossing, the trail is flat and a slight slog. The trail breaks right above the Needleton RR stop, and across one more bridge. This is a pretty good spot to filter water and take a breather, from this point on it's straight up to the basin.

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Do you see a cabin? This was taken above our camping area

After the 9 hour grind, Paul and I set up camp around 11,000'. The first night I woke up to obnoxiously loud goats stomping around my tent, and Paul saw a large porcupine near my vestibule. We had all of our food/trash hung up, so maybe my body odor attracted them?

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I slept in later than I should have, and we departed for Eolus around 8 am. The trail up to the Columbine split is easy going, and up to Twin Lakes isn't bad at all. Once we veered left at the Twin Lakes split, we gained a few hundred feet of elevation. At this point the GPX from 14ers had me going straight up the tundra to gain the rock rib, but newish CFI steps appeared to take a great trail left. This ended up being the better option, and only a few meters of the trail was covered in snow. Once we gained the rock rib, I found some gear that had been left, cached it to return. At this point, some light rain came through, and we were forced to wait it out near Mt. Eolus after gaining the Catwalk. It luckily let up, and we were able to take the ridge direct from the catwalk.

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I believe this required a class 4 direct start, but was mostly fun exposed class 3 climbing. We took our time and made sure our holds were good, with slightly wet rock. After gaining the summit of Mt. Eolus, we took the standard route back down to the catwalk and tagged North Eolus. It only took 10 minutes or so from the catwalk to summit North Eolus, which had bomber coral type rock.

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Somehow still wide-eyed after a long day

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Once back at camp, we cooked up some freeze-dried meals, snickers, and got ready for bed. The rain came in after we were settled in our tents, and I was out by 7 PM or so. Woke up to strong winds and a thunderstorm around midnight hoped it would dissipate by 4 am.

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Around 4:15 am, I was boiling water and had breakfast ready. We were off around 5 or so and gained Windoms ridge just in time to catch the sunrise. There was snow lingering above the CFI trail so I kick stepped in trail runners to gain the stable talus. After this point at the saddle, it was some of the best class 2 scrambling I've encountered.

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We made it up Windoms summit, which has a fun class 4 option and took some pictures. I opted to go down a very loose gulley coming off the summit and crossed the upper basin to some ledges/grass.

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This led me right on top of Sunlights gulley, which didn't take long to gain the saddle. At this point, we met 3 other hikers, one of which I'd help come down the summit block later on. I chose for a direct class 5 crack start to gain the ridge direct. This was easily the most exposed move I've done on a 14er, and wouldn't do it again. The holds were few and far between, and room for error was nill. I've heard there's a ramp near the standard route that bypasses this but didn't look on the way down. Paul understandably chose to follow the other climbers up the standard and under the "hole in the wall". We all met up at the summit block, and I waited for them to finish. One of the hikers was concerned and looked nervous coming off the main summit block. I ran up to the block underneath, grabbed his legs while instructing him the distance needed for a hold on the ledge below. Everything went smoothly, and we all got our pictures.

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Coming down the saddle from standard was pretty loose, and has high rockfall potential. I saw a couple of guys kick rocks down without warning, one hitting my partner in the arm. We had high spirits after completing our Chicago Basin journey and returned to camp for some more freeze-dried meals. Warning Freeze-Dried Meals might make you gassy! haha

We packed out and planned to return to Purgatory that afternoon, which would be 22 or 23 miles and 16-17 hours after we woke up for Windom. My pack was over-sized and I was in pain the majority of the time after passing Needleton. Paul is a trooper, and not to forget he did all of this at 59 years old! A true inspiration to what is possible for someone over twice my age. I was happy to have him as a partner for these 9 peaks in 9 days!

Now that I've completed the 14ers, I can only imagine what else is in store. Colorado has been great, and I look forward to much more to come!

Alec Landingham -@Capt_Alec

P.S will be editing the TR a little bit


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




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52


 Comments or Questions
IsaacD
Absolute Legend
07/16/2020 14:33
Great climbing with you, Alec. These photos are killer. Congrats on finishing the 14ers! Let's go get Wham Ridge sometime soon...


CaptCO

Isaac
07/16/2020 14:38
You're the legend! I could barely keep up with you on South Maroon haha! Let's definitely get it, I should be free for the next few weeks


bmcqueen

Quite the finish
07/16/2020 17:05
Congrats Alec! That€„˘s a big push to the finish.


claybonnyman

Nice job
07/16/2020 20:17
That's a good run to finish off your list. Congratulations, mate.

Three left for me after doing the Wilsons Monday and Tuesday.

~Pony


hogantheepic

Fucking gnar
07/17/2020 02:53
Hell yeah! That's the way!


Jeezus, that was a ton of goats you saw!


mattr9

Congrats!
07/17/2020 09:09
Congrats on finishing them off! Now that the "Checklist climbing" is done, you can focus on the fun stuff hahaha
I don't know if I'll ever complete them all... Some just don't sound/look appetizing...


greenonion

Great Finish
07/17/2020 10:00
Pretty cool summit to finish on, as well as that final list of peaks. As well as Cap and others recently too! Congrats again!


CaptCO

Thanks homies
07/18/2020 16:02
Y€„˘all the MVP


blazintoes

Glad
07/24/2020 21:32
You got a DeLorme. Now get that crap outta your lip and you€„˘ll be perfect. I kid cause I love. Centennial buzz now...Sure you€„˘ll be done soon. Will be in touch for the techy bits.


triordie
Congratulations on excellent finish
08/18/2020 10:35
Just read your trip report. What a powerful finish! We did El Diente and Wilson from Navajo Lake in 2016, same route, and the Chicago Basin 4 in 2015 (albeit with the aid of a train). Had the same goats company in Chicago Basin!



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