Peak(s):  "Sunlight Spire" - 14,000 feet
Sunlight Peak  -  14,059 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Windom Peak  -  14,087 feet
Date Posted:  08/13/2009
Date Climbed:   08/11/2009
Author:  mtsuji
 The Spire!!!  

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At the beginning of summer TJ, Kyle, Doug and I came up with the idea of spending some time in the Chicago Basin. However, in addition to the three standard peaks, we wanted to try and climb Sunlight Spire. We like to end our summers with memorable trips and figured if we succeeded this one would go down as one of the better end of summer excursions.
Due to the four of us being poor college kids it was decided we would hike in from Purgatory instead of taking the train. After picking Kyle up in Gunnison we drove to Purgatory and spent the night on the ground of the parking lot.
The next day was our approach day. In the cascade creek valley we hit an unmarked fork in the trail and went left. This took us to the creek where we crossed and wandered around for about an hour before realizing the right fork was the correct path. If you're hiking in from Purgatory, take the right fork!

Doug on the right path

When we reached the Animas River it immediately became apparent a swimming break was necessary. We stopped at the bridge for about an hour and did nothing productive but had a great time!

The rest of the hike in was beautiful but painfully long made worse by the trains passing, reminding us that we could be riding instead of walking. We reached the basin at around seven and set up camp on a rock slab immediately below the "No camping at Twin Lakes" sign. By the way, the goat's love of urine is as bad as everyone on this site has said, they couldn't get enough!

The next day we woke with hopes of climbing Sunlight Spire, Sunlight and Windom in that order. We hauled our gear up the basin and upon reaching twin lakes got our first glimpse of the Spire. It was quite the sight, causing a large amount of excitement and a little anxiety to run through the group.

When we reached the saddle between the Spire and Sunlight, the rock was still very cold so we opted to tag Sunlight first.

Me on the summit


Doug on the summit
When we got back to the saddle the rock had warmed to the point we felt comfortable attempting the climb so we began the traverse to the bottom of the spire. I would be climbing with Kyle and Doug and TJ would be climbing together. After sorting out the rack it was finally time! Kyle chalked up and got on the climb. Placing pieces every several feet he slowly jammed his way up the crack. After several tense minutes he pulled himself onto the summit block and let loose a victory yell which was returned by the people on the summits of Windom and Sunlight! If you were one of those people, thank you, you made us feel much cooler than we actually are! Congrats on an amazing lead Kyle. I followed and soon joined Kyle on the summit.





TJ Getting stoked

TJ was next and narrowly avoided a serious accident that may have ended the trip. While climbing he fell and his last piece caught at the same time his ass smacked into the ramp that follows the crack for half its length. After hanging for several minutes he finished the climb with no major injuries and joined us on the summit. We were all incredibly thankful he escaped injury. Doug joined us and we took a moment to enjoy what may be the most elusive summit of a 14,000 foot point in the state.


Kyles battle wounds


Me up top

We couldn't find an in depth report or rack description from anyone who had previously climbed it so here's approximately what we used in case anyone wants to know what to bring
-1 #1 C4
-2 or 3 #2 C4's
-1 #3 C4 for the anchor
-1 .75 C4
-1 grey Super Cam
TJ placed a #8 nut as well. Although we used lots of cams, the crack looked like it would take quite a few medium to large nuts as well. New webbing would be a good idea as well as the existing webbing had a decent amount of UV damage.
After rapping off we tagged Windom and took a celebratory dip in twin lakes, savoring what had been an amazing day.





The next day we hiked Eolus and North Eolus. The views off the top were quite enjoyable and we took advantage of the amazing weather by spending quite a while on their summits.


Doug on the Eolus ridge

We returned to camp by early afternoon and hiked down needle creek to shorten the hike on the last day. About a half mile downstream of the Needle Creek Animas River confluence we ran into a group of raft guides breaking down their summer camp. We stopped and talked for a while about our trip and their plans to do Pigeon Peak the next day. Four Corners Rafting is the outfit you should book your trip through if you want to raft the Animas! Great people!


TJ at "Kamp Komfort"

After setting up our camp we indulged in a raging camp fire in an established fire ring.

The fire ban in Chicago Basin left us wanting at least one fire before the trip was over. The hike out the next day was bittersweet, as happiness of what we had accomplished mixed with regrets of leaving such a wonderful place.

Hope you enjoyed the read and shoot me a P.M. or leave a comment if you have any questions about the route or you get out to do it!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

 Comments or Questions
MUni Rider

Great Job!
08/13/2009 13:25
Awesome to see someone getting to the top of the Spire! Hopefully pics of you from the other summits will trickle in over the next week or so. Glad TJ is okay. Great trip report and pics.


nice work!
08/13/2009 15:07
loved the pic of the leader with a line of pro in the crack.


08/13/2009 17:28


We were there
08/13/2009 18:53
and watched you guys nail this, well done! We were among the many yelling back up to Kyle once he got on top. We have photos of him on the top from down near the base of Windom, I‘ll get them to you once they are uploaded. Nice work guys!


08/13/2009 23:58
its not a tuba, thanks that would be great!


08/14/2009 10:42
How would you rate the climb to the spire?


08/14/2009 15:47
The approach was a class 3/4 scramble with one 5.7 move to get you to the belay station. The climb itself felt no harder than 5.10 a.

rob runkle

08/14/2009 18:04
And thanks for the beta!


08/15/2009 15:55
Super congrats for knocking off this amazing, iconic summit. And thanks for posting the pics. Probably beyond my abilities, so my hat‘s off to you!

Looks like a blast
08/16/2009 16:11
One of the most fun trip reports that I‘ve read. fun pics too. congratulations.


Nice work guys!!
08/18/2009 00:59
You are as cool as the other people cheering made you feel! It‘s an illusive summit and an impressive accomplishment!


Congrats and question
08/26/2009 01:57
A great report guys. What would you say that finger crack is rated ? 5.9 ? (Hard to tell from the photos)



Climb Rating
08/26/2009 04:56
The consensus of our group was the crack went at low 5.10. It was also more of a hand crack than a finger crack.

09/09/2009 03:25
Very impressive. Nice work.

Nice Report
12/16/2009 04:34
It was spitting snow when I was there... looks like you had an excellent trip.

Would you be willing to allow me to put some of your photos on the summitpost page for Sunlight Spire? There are some great shots!


Most definately!
01/17/2010 03:24
RobSC, if you would like to use any of the photos be my guest!


Well done!
05/02/2011 14:23
You don‘t see too many sunlight spire TRs. Great climb. Congrats to everyone who reached the top of that thing.

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