Peaks: Jupiter Mountain (13,830′), Windom Peak (14,082′), Sunlight Peak (14,059′), Mount Eolus (14,083′), North Eolus (14,039′)
Dates: July 2-3 2016
Trailhead: Purgatory Flats (8,740′)
Distance: ~ 40 miles
Elevation Gain: ~ 11,000′
Time: 36 hours
Group: Andrea Sansone, Andrew Hamilton, Charlie Nuttelman, Danielle Joy, Elizabeth Stevens, Dillon Sarnelli
My first trip into Chicago Basin was in the summer of 2013. Back then the objective was simple. Check off Colorado’s 4 most remote 14ers and make it safely back to the train in one piece. By all accounts the weekend was a success, but one thing was certain. I’d be back in the Wemi sooner than later. Over the years that followed I’ve made good on that promise, with each trip a constant reminder that the Weminuche, the granddaddy of all Colorado’s wildernesses, is hands down in a class all by itself.
Recently I had the privilege of sitting next to Elizabeth Stevens and Ryan Kushner at dinner during our annual reunion with the Jansen family. At the time Elizabeth mentioned she had 15 or so 14ers remaining and could use some partners as Ryan would be off in Pakistan for 2 months climbing something I can’t even try to pronounce. 🙂 Not being one to ever really turn down a Wemi trip, I gladly accepted the invitation.
As the days went on, the itinerary and crew members evolved. With the addition of Andrea, Danielle, Charlie and Andrew, the trip became 5 peaks in a day (Day 1 of their Wemipalooza) and when I missed the train out, the trip became 5 peaks in a day with a 17 mile hike out that night. Here’s the story of our 36 hours in Chicago Basin as best as I can tell it.
Day 1 – July 2, 2016: Purgatory TH to treeline in Chicago Basin. ~16.5 miles, ~3,500′ vert.
Day 2 – July 3, 2016: 5 Peaks and a solo blitzkrieg back to Purgatory. ~ 24 miles, ~ 7,500′ vert. Go.
A quick recap of the cast as we ascend Jupiter:
The original plan was for Elizabeth and myself to take the train out at 3:30. Option A: Leave now and make the train or, Option B: Finish what we started. Hmmmm.
Once on the saddle we dropped our packs and made quick work of North Eolus.
Back at camp Danielle and Elizabeth decided to stick around and take the train out the next day. Andrea, Andrew and Charlie had Peak 15 on the next day’s agenda and eventually headed off over the pass into Ruby Basin. I opted to continue the blitzkrieg and made a 6 PM 17 mile B-line for Purgatory. As I sit here and write this I still don’t really know what I was thinking. Hiking alone for miles upon miles in the darkness in one of Colorado’s most remote wildernesses will scare the living crap out of you, but at the same time I think I’d do it all over again.
What I learned: Beer is heavy and next time pack a Margarita for Andrea!
To the crew: You are some pretty amazing people with great attitudes and a heck of a lot of athleticism. It was a pleasure spending 36 hours with each of you. Thanks for having me along and even more thanks for not hazing me too bad.
Until next time… Cheers and thanks for reading!
Coming Soon – A recap of Spring 2016’s Greatest Hits, including Where’s Flattop, Boulder Will Break You, The Keplinger Disaster, and Jacque Ate My Binding, But At Least the Donuts Were Good – starring Mat Ballay and Dillon Sarnelli. Stay Tuned…