Peak(s):  Twin Sisters West  -  13,374 feet
Twin Sisters East  -  13,432 feet
Point 12,601
PT 13,042  -  13,042 feet
Point 12,579
Date Posted:  01/06/2021
Date Climbed:   07/18/2020
Author:  supranihilest
Additional Members:   whileyh, Garrett
 Wicked Sisters  

After eight straight days of Garrett, Whiley, and I beating ourselves to a pulp in the Weminuche, our alarm clocks went off way, way too early. I probably could have slept until noon, but 7am was our time to rise. Rise and shine, that is. We had like nine million, two hundred and seventy seven thousand, three hundred and forty eight peaks to climb, and rest is a crutch. We camped overnight at the beautiful Rico-Silverton Trailhead at the end of South Mineral Creek Road (FS-585), which, if you haven't been there you should go. We were off shortly after 8am, which was at least leisurely compared to our days in the Weminuche.

A good trail led us south for almost exactly two miles before turning east towards Twin Sisters West. Along the way we paralleled South Mineral Creek, so named for the mineralized deposits it leaves behind, and had great views of the eastern Vermillion Peak-area mountains as well as the Twin Sisters themselves.

Mineralized waterfall. Photo: Whiley H.
Twin Sisters West. Take note of the large rock glaciers below the peaks. Photo: Garrett M.

After leaving the main trail we made our way over to the southwest ridge of Twin Sisters West, following a faint trail. The trail led us to the small, chossy cliffs that ring the bottom of the mountain. The rock quality was pure garbage, and would remain somewhere between pure garbage and total shit for the entire ascent up both of the Twin Sisters.

Haven't even left the ground yet and the entire mountain is falling apart.

We took off up the steep ridge, at first on steep Class 3ish scrambles on trashy red rock, which quickly gave way to an utterly endless sea of absolutely heinous mixed red and gray rock. The rock down low was lichen covered but as we ascended the lichen disappeared, a sign of how loose this stuff was and how often it slid around.

Some of the initial scrambles. It's not as steep as it looks, but the rock is awful and the moderate exposure never really relents on this route.
I think I'm going to be sick just looking at this.

Though the climbing never got above Class 3 today, almost all of which was limited to short sections at the very bottom of the route, the vast majority of the ascent up Twin Sisters West was steep, insidiously loose, and exposed. Mostly Class 2+, the route just did not relent in any of those qualities. The rock wasn't the kind to slide around or slide downhill, but it was annoying to walk on and everything shifted at least a little bit when weighted. There were numerous times where I literally crawled up the slope.

Really kind of an insane looking photo. Imagine climbing that high on that garbage. Don't look down!
Big trash, medium garbage, small junk. This peak has it all. Engineer Mountain on the right. Photo: Whiley H.
What are we even doing here? Photo: Whiley H.
Crawling up a thirteener on all fours. Photo: Whiley H.

There was approximately 1,000 vertical feet of Class 2+ "scrambling" up the southwest ridge before it more or less leveled out on gray dinner plates. I had wondered on the way up if the route did, in fact, go clean without climbing up any cliffs or rotting ribs or anything, which it didn't. While it was an ascent route, that's really all I can say about it: that it was an ascent route. It worked but was not particularly good or enjoyable, and I definitely would not have wanted to go down it given how steep and loose everything was.

Whiley and I on the ridge proper. Still chossy. Photo: Garrett M.

Ahead of us was one small saddle, then the simple ascent to Twin Sisters West on manky rock.

West and East. These peaks really are twins. Photo: Garrett M.
West's south face looking downright terrible. Photo: Whiley H.

The descent to the saddle contained a short scramble, which I took to the left, and then another short scramble or a hike on the gray talus that made up these peaks.

Garrett and Whiley ascending from the saddle immediately prior to West's summit.
Summit of Twin Sisters West. Photo: Garrett M.
Looking back down the ridge. Photo: Whiley H.

Since we weren't fans of the "rock," if you can call it that, on these peaks, we immediately left for Twin Sisters East. Fortunately, this one was easier. No steepies, just loosies.

Twin Sisters East looking pretty darn meh.
When will the dinner plates end? Oh, that 10 foot section of grass? OK. Photo: Whiley H
Endless piles of junk. Photo: Garrett M.
Easy summit ridge on East. Photo: Garrett M.
Twin Sisters West totally not photoshopped with the Vermillion part of the San Miguel behind. Photo: Whiley H.

Clouds had begun to build in a significant way and we had at least one more thirteener to climb, "V 7" (Point 13,042 here on; I will use the name for this trip report). Roughly in between stood Point 12,601, a ranked twelver, and since Whiley and I like twelvers we made Garrett bag it too. Our descent off of Twin Sisters East was - surprise, I know - steep and loose, but nowhere near as bad as the ascent up Twin Sisters West. There was a lot of dirt and talus in the first half, and eventually things relented to just talus and then grass.

Descending Twin Sisters East's south slopes.
Point 13,042 in the background, Point 12,601 with shadows in the foreground. Photo: Whiley H.

Wildflowers were absolutely popping as we crossed the flats over to 12,601.

Purdy flowas, purdy peakies. Photo: Whiley H.
Columbine! Photo: Whiley H.
Twin Sisters East from the bottom of 12,601. Photo: Whiley H.

12,601 was an easy grass romp, much appreciated after the suck that was the Twin Sisters.

More flowers and peaks. Photo: Whiley H.
Pick some grass, any grass! Photo: Whiley H.

12,601 came and went, and was the easiest of the five peaks for the day. From its summit Point 13,042 was far away, and with a large drop and a lot of gain to get it.

Bulky Point 13,042.

All of the terrain in between was easy, mellow angled grass, but at this point I was kind of dead. Everything in the past week was catching up, but I put on my big boy pants and kept right on truckin'.

En route to 13,042.
13,042 is infinitely tall.
12,601, on the right, looks pretty miniscule from here. Photo: Whiley H.

Though I was pretty whipped 13,042 was a gracious host, and let me take my time with its gentle slopes. There's not a whole lot to report about this one: grass fun and the usual spectacular San Juan views.

Point 12,764 to the south, which we did not get on this trip. Photo: Garrett M.
Too many peaks to really name, but the big three left of center are the Twin Sisters and Rolling Mountain, and on the right San Miquel Peak, farther right is Vermillion Peak, and near the edge is Golden Horn. Photo: Garrett M.
Gnarly ridge to 12,978-foot Bear Mountain with Sultan Mountain on the right. Photo: Whiley H.
Closer shot of the ridge. Photo: Whiley H.

Storms now were clearly in the cards, so we turned around and booked it back to a shallow pass north of 12,601.

Whiley may appear to be frolicking, and she was, but it was an urgent frolic.

Whiley went ahead to bag Point 12,579, another ranked peak on a long north ridge north of 12,601. I wasn't sure I was going to do it, being half a zombie, but which I reached the saddle I decided I had the time (and the desire) if I also ran. It was altogether a pretty easy peak, and Whiley and I passed on our way down and up, respectively.

Point 12,579 is both closer and farther than it appears.
13,042 is so colorful!
A not-so-fond look back at the Twin Sisters. Only East is visible. On the right is Rolling Mountain.

By the time I had returned to the saddle it was thundering, and Garrett and Whiley had already began the descent. Instead of taking the Colorado Trail back to the Rico-Silverton Trail of our ascent, we descended an unmarked trail into Porcupine Creek. We knew the trail existed in the physical world, it just doesn't appear on any Forest Service or USGS maps. If you would like to make a track for it, you can find the trail on Caltopo's "MapBuilder Topo" layer, Open Street Map, and perhaps elsewhere.

Since I had the trail entirely to myself I took my sweet time with it. Since I didn't know anything about the trail I half expected it to end in the forest, or at a cliff, but it was an excellent trail, easy to follow, and contained no difficulties. Even the significant deadfall has all been cleaned up! The trail nicely avoided a bunch of junky rock on the Twin Sisters' north side.

Toe of one of the Twin Sisters' rock glaciers.

Eventually the trail dumped me along the east side of South Mineral Creek, north of where we had started. I found a path through the willows where it made sense and crossed the creek, then hiked back to the van. Garrett and Whiley had already gone back to Silverton, since I was being a slowpoke, and we met there before Garrett headed home. Whiley and I being remote, we stayed. It's Silverton, after all, one of Colorado's greatest places. I took the next day off, being sure that I would keel over and die if I tried to climb anything, given the epic beatdown so far. While I can't recommend the Twin Sisters to the casual hiker given they're complete garbage to climb up or down, Point 13,042 (and the twelvers) is a gorgeous little hike in a lovely part of the Silverton area, and it's likely you'll have it all to yourself. Take the Porcupine Creek Trail - it's wonderful. And when you're done, take a good long rest. You deserve it.


Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself), Whiley H., Garrett M
Trailhead: Rico-Silverton
Total distance: 14.38 miles
Total elevation gain: 5,575 feet
Total time: 6:52:08
Peaks: Three ranked thirteeners, two ranked twelvers

  • Twin Sisters West, 13,341'
  • Twin Sisters East, 13,432'
  • Point 12,601
  • Point 13,042 (also known as "V 7")
  • Point 12,579


Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
South Mineral Creek Trailhead Twin Sisters West 2:18:12 2:18:12 0:00
Twin Sisters West Twin Sisters East 0:27:48 2:46:00 0:00
Twin Sisters East Point 12,601 0:49:28 3:35:28 0:00
Point 12,601 Point 13,042 0:45:43 4:21:11 0:00
Point 13,042 Point 12,579 0:52:23 5:13:34 0:00
Point 12,579 South Mineral Creek Trailhead 1:38:34 6:52:08 Trip End

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 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 22 23 24 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43

 Comments or Questions

Choss & Running
01/06/2021 17:06
Two of my favorite things! ... Our experiences this day seemed to have differed wildly, I loved the Twins lol. And any day I can get you to run, now that's a good day!


01/07/2021 17:32
Great report and amazing pics. I did this late in fall, but they look so beautiful with the greenery. 13,042 was one of my favorite peaks this summer, such good views and beautiful slopes. Dropped my dental crown while eating sour patch on the summit of Twin Sister east. Fun times. The hardrock 100 trail through Porcupine is amazing!


Another chossfest
01/07/2021 09:33
Congrats on powering through the choss, but after reading your report I'm glad I chose another route on Twin Sisters E & W. I enjoyed these peaks, though it was foggy on the summits and I didn't get the nice views you did.

Porcupine Creek Tr
01/07/2021 17:20
I loved this report! I am having trouble finding this trail on Gaia GPS. What should I look for? Thank you for your help. This trail may help me for next summer.Stay well, Teresa


Doin' thangz
01/07/2021 18:39
@Whiley: I will never understand your love for either choss or running, but I do understand that they are necessities at times. Like when bagging peaks ready to utterly collapse while it's raining out.

@Yusuf: 13,042 was a gem for sure! Pretty funny about your crown, and I just know you picked it up, dusted it off, and put it right back in your mouth as you should have! Haha!

@Eddie: On one hand I really, really want to get the awful peaks done first so I just have a spree of great peaks at the end, and on the other hand they just suck so hard sometimes, and I don't want to get burnt out. I even subjected Whiley to a couple of exhausted "I don't know how much more of this I can do..." talks over the summer, to which she rightfully told me to suck it up and keep pushing. Despite that, the Twin Sisters are peaks I don't think I will ever repeat, they're just awful.

@Teresa: Thanks, glad you liked the report! I don't use Gaia, so I created a map of the trail using Caltopo instead, and placed a couple of nearby reference landmarks on it as well. You can find it here: I assume you're looking to download the trail GPX on your phone, so when you load the map click the wrench icon at the top and then "Export GPX". You'll be able to select any of the map objects you want to export and then import them into Gaia. Happy trails!

Not so bad
01/08/2021 13:20
I did this outing in September 2014. Existing TRs had me dreading the talus on the south side of Twin Peaks east. I found it much more enjoyable, or at least less unenjoyable, than I'd anticipated -- the key was "getting in tune" with the talus. I don't recall any third class and I believe I avoided the lower part of West Twin's SW ridge, going more directly up the south face. All in all, I found it to be an excellent day in the mountains, thanks for reminding me of it.


Better route
01/12/2021 08:41
@dhgold: East was better than West, I thought, but we only went down it. There was a lot more grass on East's south face than West's. Definitely a couple of peaks that require "getting in tune" with! The addition of 13,042 and the 12ers made this a much nicer trip overall.

   Using your forum id/password. Not registered? Click Here

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

© 2021®, 14ers Inc.