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Windom Peak
standard West Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Difficult Class 2 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Moderate  
Commitment: Moderate  
 
Trailhead:Needleton
Start:11,100 feet
Summit:14,082 feet
Total Gain:3,000' starting at Chicago Basin
6,000' starting at Needleton
RT Length:5 miles starting at Chicago Basin
17 miles starting at Needleton
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:58 reports
Cell Signal:10 reports
Sheriff:La Plata: 970-247-1157
Forest:San Juan
Wilderness:Weminuche
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

Drive to Durango and follow signs to the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. It's near McDonald's and has a large parking area nearby. Buy a ticket for the train that stops at Needleton and ride the train 2.5 hours (~30 miles) to the Needleton stop. The train will drop you off next to a suspension bridge that crosses the Animas River. From here, it's a 6 mile hike to reach Chicago Basin. Note: you can also take the train from Silverton and be dropped off at Needleton.

Route

To reach Chicago Basin, use the Approach Page. From your camp in Chicago Basin, hike northeast toward the end of the basin on the great trail - 1. Near 11,200', turn left toward Twin Lakes at a signed junction - 2. This trail is used to reach Windom, Sunlight, and Eolus. Continue up through the forest ( 3) to an area where the trail is a bit difficult to follow over and around some rock slabs - 4. Near 11,400', leave the trees where you have a great view of the two streams that flow down the slope below Twin Lakes - 5. Follow the trail north up the slope and cross the first stream at 11,700' - 6. Immediately after the crossing, climb steep terrain for 300' before the trail angles right and the slope eases. Cross the second stream near 12,300' and continue toward the top of the slope - 7. Near 12,500', arrive at the south end of Twin Lakes - 8.

Your next goal is to hike around the first lake and continue east. Follow the trail around the lake and up through the rocks - 9. At 12,600', reach the base of a headwall that separates you from the upper basin near Sunlight and Windom - 10. Follow cairns and trail segments up the right side if the headwall. At 13,000', reach the upper basin and views of the remaining route to Windom - 11. Continue east a bit further into the basin, turn right, and locate cairns and/or trail segments that angle toward a saddle on Windom's west ridge - 11 and 12. Climb the slope ( 13) to reach the 13,250-foot saddle .

From the saddle, 800 feet of climbing remains up Windom's west ridge - 14, 15 and 16. The trail pretty much ends here. While staying mainly along the left side of the ridge, follow cairns to a small notch at 13,800' - 17. From here you cannot see the summit and the remaining rocks along the ridge get larger and a bit more difficult to negotiate. Near 13,900', the route is well on the left side of the ridge as you approach the top - 18. Just before the summit there's a small notch in the ridge that allows easy access to the south side - 19. Turn right through the notch, drop a bit, and climb to the summit - 20.

Notes

There are many dispersed camp sites between 10,800' and 11,100' in Chicago Basin and creek provides plenty of water for filtering. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Weminuche Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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