Ascent of San Luis Peak on 2018-07-08

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Sunday, July 8, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:San Luis Peak
    Elevation:14014 ft / 4271 m

Ascent Trip Report

The drive up out of the town of Creede is quite interesting. Going by all the old mining operations and the steep walled canyons is interesting. The forest road turn off next to the Equity mine looks worse than it is. Gerry Roach's directions in his book are spot on. The road is marked 503.4, loop road, and rat creek. Some of the worst part of the drive is the beginning. There is one creek fording that makes many vehicles drop short (passenger vesicles and no 4-wheel HCV) but there were no issues. I made it to the top and parked. Then it got funny....

Next to my truck was a couple of tents and a vehicle parked near me. Mind you I was 5 hours away from Denver in a remote 4 wheel drive road that had only 3 vehicles parked. The 4x4 had licence plates that said "Klimbin" and I thought "oh a state high-pointer...I wonder if i know them?"
Then I noticed a bumper sticker with the CMC on it...hmmmmm I wonder if I know them. In the vehicles was other peakbagging info. It started to rain so I went back to my truck and ate dinner and got ready to do to sleep. Then I heard sounds outside my truck and the hikers returned to the truck. I did not recognize the faces but I sure recognized the voice and I jumped out my truck..."Dave Covill what the heck are you doing on this remote 4 wheel drive road 5 hours from home?"
He was with Hillary who I had bumped into now 3 times as well. To make matters weirder. I said, "hey i just bought a house i think it may be near you."

After comparing addresses, it looks like we are practically next door neighbors albeit currently both out hiking 5 hours away from home. What are the chances?
So.....I awoke at 430 AM and hit the trail with headlamp on at 5:05 AM. This 14er is so remote and unpopular, I did not see another human being until I summitted!
I hiked 6 miles on the Colorado Trail and up a 14er before I saw a human. all day, I saw no more than 6 people on a SUNDAY!

I did make a mistake. I got confused in the dark when the trail split. After leaving the 4x4 parking at West Willow Creek TH, you clearly want to stay right of the large rock formation ahead called point 12,540. But in the dark, the trail to the left looked far more used and the one to the right looked like a 4 wheel road and steep. I went left. That trail takes you up Willow Creek and a full mile out of the way. It heads NW and past point 12540 and meets up with the Colorado Trail. I knew it was wrong but it was a gentle hike and I was alone in the dark so what the heck?

After than the route finding was easy. This approach has a LOT of up and downs. You take and retake one pass after another but only after some downclimbing. The nice thing is you see many grandiose glacier cut bowls. THe bad part, is you wonder if you will ever make the final connecting shoulder that takes you up the 14er? It is a very scenic route but about 500 foot of regain each way. The last pass, cut deep into the cirque wall and as you approach the final pass and up to the final shoulder, on your right is some of the most amazing rock formations you will ever see. Volcanic rock pinnacles have eroded into strange figurines and odd shapes. One such shape has a huge head on a skinny neck and you wonder how the rock head has not broken free and tumbled down the mountain?

The last bit of summit, although only class 1 is full of lose scree made of brittle rhyolite. It is a nearly a 1000 foot slog up the broad shoulder to the summit. And there are a few visual false summits on the way.

Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3514 ft / 1070 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1000 ft / 304 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.6 mi / 18.7 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3014 ft / 918 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2514 ft / 766 m; Extra: 500 ft / 152m
    Loss on way in:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:6.3 mi / 10.1 km
    Route:Roach's 26.2 (Colorado Trail) southern approach
    Start Trailhead:4x4 parking  11500 ft / 3505 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:500 ft / 152 m
    Gain on way out:500 ft / 152 m
    Distance:5.3 mi / 8.5 km
    Route:see TR

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