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Backpacker Magazine – May 2010

Colorado Trail: Top Peaks

The top peaks for every type of hiker.

by: Kristy Holland, maps by Andrew Matranga

The Colorado Trail. (Andrew Matranga)
The Colorado Trail. (Andrew Matranga)
Vestal and Arrow peaks. (Todd Caudle)
Vestal and Arrow peaks. (Todd Caudle)
San Luis Peak. (Todd Caudle)
San Luis Peak. (Todd Caudle)

Most Challenging (Triangle)
1) Arrow Peak (13,792 feet)
The ridge, leading like a runway to this summit, looks like no big deal. But crumbly rock and tricky routefinding  often stymie summit attempts. Bear left off the Vestal Creek Trail and stick to the north side of the basin between Vestal and Arrow Peaks. Once on the ramp, stick to its eastern edge for about .5 mile. Then angle west to navigate a rock rib blocking the 250-foot summit tower.

2) Storm King Peak (13,737 feet)
Not visible from any roads, Storm King usually gets traffic only from climbers attempting the classic 15-pitch route up its towering north face. The winding class 3 scramble on the south face is a stout 14.6 miles round-trip.

3) Vestal Peak (13,783 feet)
Showy Vestal’s two routes don’t give in easily. The north ridge is a 10-pitch, 5.4 climb, and its hikeable south face is a class 2 scree shuffle. Leave the climbers’ trail at the west end of Vestal Basin and cross the creek to scramble to the saddle. Then round the south ridge and zigzag up the gully’s west side before navigating crumbly rock to the summit.

4. Chair Rocks (7,900 feet)
5. Trinity Peaks (13,812 feet)
6. Electric Peak
(13,284 feet)
7. Lavender Peak (12,995 feet)
8. Engineer Mountain
(12,926 feet)
9. Snowdon Peak (13,074 feet)
10. Grizzly Peak (13,733 feet)

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