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

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.

Rating

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

To Trailhead

Take the Durango and Silverton train to Needleton. From train station, cross bridge over Animas River to reach Needleton Trailhead.

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