Monthly Archives: September 2011

Boys Trip 2011

In the summer of 2010, my friend Kyle, his friend Jake, and I took a trip to the Sangre De Cristos in southern Colorado to climb Crestone Needle. We had an incredible time (even though I never found time to blog about it) and decided to take another dude trip this summer.

Crestone Needle in the background

After some research, we turned our eyes towards Chicago Basin in southwestern Colorado (near Durango). Chicago Basin is a fairly remote wilderness area home to three of Colorado’s 14,000 ft. mountains.

Just getting to the Needleton trailhead requires a fun train ride via the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad or a long backpack in. If you want to save money or just have the time, I suppose the backpack option could be fun. We all felt the train added to the experience and was well worth the money.

Lauren took the train with us and waved bye as we got dropped off at the Needleton trailhead. She enjoyed a weekend exploring Silverton, Mesa Verde, Durango, etc.

Bye Lauren!

Lauren @ Mesa Verde

From the Needleton trailhead we made the fairly arduous hike (3,000 ft elevation gain, 6 miles, 3 hours) to Chicago Basin.

The basin was quite beautiful!

We expected to see a lot of mountain goats based on our information, and they were literally everywhere.

We only had one full day for climbing. We hoped to climb all three 14ers, but Sunlight and Windom were enough to wear us out pretty well. Eolus would have to wait until another trip. We could have potentially climbed Eolus before hiking out to meet the train, but we didn’t feel like taking the risk of missing our only ride. Most people that climb all three in a day (props to you) start with Eolus and then end with the Sunlight/Windom combo. Sunlight was our main objective, so we opted to start there.

Nearing the summit of Sunlight

I was the only one in our group dumb enough to climb up the block on top of Sunlight. I’ve seen it described as the single hardest move on any 14er. Really its just a bit awkward and nerve-racking (sorry mom!).

Kyle part way up Sunlight’s summit block.

Me perched awkwardly on the Sunlight’s summit block.

Kyle making a quick descent of Windom.

Chicago Basin really is a special place…no wonder why it is so popular.

Take aways:

  • Give yourself 4 days in the basin (1 hike in, 2 climbing, 1 hike out)
  • Start really really early if you want to climb all 3 peaks in a day
  • If you go over a holiday weekend (July 4th in our case) expect plenty of friends
  • Hang everything and leave nothing in your tent. Lots of marmots and goats that would love to eat your stuff.
  • Take Jake with you. He’ll make you laugh.
  • For more tips on Chicago Basin, check out this post on

Mt. Bierstadt/Mt. Evans

In June, we went camping with our friends, the Lanzens, on Guanella Pass. It’s really beautiful up there, and it’s not too far from Denver. Everything was going well until we realized that “someone” forgot to pack our tent poles. Luckily, I am a good sport and didn’t complain about sleeping under this makeshift tarp-tent that Joel and Scott created for us. It was better than sleeping under the stars I guess.

In the morning, we headed to Mt. Bierstadt. Yes, this is the Mt. Bierstadt we climbed when my parents came out with us in 2009 and I got altitude sickness. And yes, this is the Mt. Bierstadt that we attempted last winter in the snow when we did not have appropriate gear. And finally, yes, this is the Mt. Bierstadt that is considered to be perhaps the “easiest” of the 14ers, and it took me 3 tries to reach the summit! So, here we are.

I would think that it’s understandable that I was tired when we reached the top. It’s a mountain. However, Mr. Mountain Energy was ready for more. Joel then crossed the Sawtooth ridge and summitted Mt. Evans before beginning a grueling descent. Here he is at the top of Mt. Evans (and yes, this is the same Mt. Evans that you can drive to the top of).

Here’s a view of Mt. Bierstadt (right), the Sawtooth (center), and Mt. Evans (left).

When it was time to go, the Lanzen girls couldn’t handle it. I mean, we are not that exciting, but it was flattering. This was taken while they were holding on to our hands so we couldn’t leave!