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Ascent of West Spanish Peak on 2019-07-18

Climber: Dennis Stewart

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, July 18, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:West Spanish Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:13626 ft / 4153 m

Ascent Trip Report

West Spanish Peak has been on my bucket list for a long time long even before I started working on Colorado County highpoints. From a distance the numerous radiating dikes surrounding the mountain begs for curious climbers to take a closer look. Unfortunately, these unique geological features are far below when you reach the trailhead at Cordova Pass (11,248 feet) and you don't have the opportunity to hike beside them, but they are very visible far below once you reach the summit. It is a long drive to Cordova Pass, but that huge elevation gain allows this summit to be a day climb instead of a strenuous backpack. On my way to the trailhead I passed a couple driving slowly up the mountain and they waved me to stop and asked if this was the way to Mount Yale! I had to break the bad news to them that Mount Yale was a 1/2 day's drive away south of Leadville, Colorado. It was even stranger when the couple mentioned they were from Denver. How can Denver residents think that West Spanish Peak is Mount Yale, especially in this age of navigational technology? I left on the West Peak Trail at a late 8:43 AM after paying the $7.00 day use parking fee ($3.50 for me with the Golden Eagle Pass for Senior Citizens. One of the few benefits of growing old!). The first 1.5 miles of this trail is an easy, level (even slightly downhill) path until you reach the junction of Apishapa Trail at 11,350 feet which I reached in 50 minutes. From here you have a series of switchbacks to tree line which I reached in 1 hour and 37 minutes from the trailhead. I took an extremely long break here having a religious discussion with a leader for a youth group from Camp Salvation. This gentleman was a young Earth believer and we had a friendly debate defending our extremely different beliefs. Later I became quite disgusted with the large group of kids (over 50) as I watched them throw litter and uneaten food all over with the sponsors doing nothing. Perhaps they should spend less stop brainwashing the children about the incorrect age of the Earth and spend more time teaching wilderness etiquette. From tree line I reached the highest point on West Spanish Peak in a little over 2.5 hours, but I am a fairly slow climber now at 70 years old on steep slopes with a lot of scree, so you will probably do much better. I covered a total of 3.4 miles to the summit from the trailhead. The highest point is probably at a large cairn on the west end of the summit ridgeline, but it is not very apparent. The mounds on the summit ridgeline to the east looked highest to me, so I hiked over to those spots only to look back and see that the first mound looked higher now. It is an interesting optical illusion. The bugs were bad on the summit so I did not linger long. I descended about 50 feet where the bugs were not as bad and rested as I ate my lunch. It was a slow 1 mile descent for me back to tree line and I was very glad I had my ski poles on the steep, loose scree. I was glad to be back on a good trail again, but I was surprised how much I had to climb to return to my car, which I reached after covering 3.69 miles in a little more than 3.5 hours from the summit. I had not reached the summit until 1:30 PM with my late start and long talk with the Camp Salvation sponsor, so I felt very lucky the weather was so cooperative today. I enjoyed blue sky all day.
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles



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