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Colorado 14ers: Mount Eolus, Sunlight Peak and Windom Peak

CO

Star Star Star Star Star

Distance: 27.8 miles


Earmark 3-5 days for this backcountry trek to a campsite in Chicago Basin, where you’ll have a chance to climb a cluster of three 14ers in the San Juan Mountains.

This mini-expedition into the San Juans begins on the historic Durango & Silverton Railroad. Jump off at Needleton and hike 6.5 miles to camp in Chicago Basin under the turrets of the Needle Mountains.

Climb Sunlight first, via the scree-filled Red Couloir. Sunlight’s apex is a perched block of granite that could well serve as your headstone if you slip while attempting the exposed crux move required to reach it (picture climbing onto a fireplace mantel with a 100-foot drop to one side). There’s no dishonor in simply touching its base. Windom Peak is less than 1 mile away, but you’ll give up nearly 1,000 feet before climbing the west ridge. The next morning, head for Eolus. After a steep 3 miles, the exposure at the Catwalk may leave you knock-kneed, but careful scrambling will soon win the summit. Got another day? Soak up the softer pleasures of the Weminuche Wilderness: grassy meadows, swaying firs, and sunlight on granite spires.

-Text by Dougald MacDonald
-Mount Eolus and Sunlight Peak mapped by Lisa Ganz

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