Peak(s):  San Luis Peak  -  14,023 feet
Unnamed 13100 A  -  13,100 feet
Unnamed 13300 A  -  13,300 feet
Unnamed 13180 A  -  13,180 feet
Unnamed 13155  -  13,155 feet
Date Posted:  07/06/2014
Modified:  07/09/2014
Date Climbed:   07/01/2014
Author:  scottaskinger
 San Luis Peak via 13ers Point Fest Ridge -- Meets up with South Ridge Route   

This trip report is for an alternate route up San Luis Peak, hiking the ridge of 13ers South of the standard "South Ridge" route. This route eventually joins up with the "South Ridge" route on the saddle of San Luis. I have not seen any beta on this route so I will try to be as detailed as possible. Feel free to ask any questions below.

General Summary
-briefly described in Roach's 14er book (26.2V1) and sometimes called the "Point Fest"
-includes long stretches of class 3 climbing
-there is no path or cairns, so you have to take your time with route finding (although most of it is straightforward)
-no snow on direct route, ax and spikes/crampons were not necessary, rock was dry
-started from West Willow Creek Trailhead North of Creede (from 4WD parking)
-approximately 16.46 miles, 5500 ft. of elevation gain from 4WD TH
-I camped .37 miles NW of San Luis pass will provide more details within this report
-very isolated route (I only saw one group late in the day on the CT portion), so bring a partner or an emergency contact device (sat phone, SPOT, etc.) if you go by yourself.
-bring a lot of water. Once you get to San Luis pass you won't have a chance to refill water for 10+ miles. I brought 4L of water (I drink a lot) and picked up another 1L in a stream in the meadow to get me by for the last 3 miles.

I flew into Durango from Chicago on Monday morning. After arriving in Durango early afternoon, I stocked up on food and a few other items and then took off for the 3+ hour drive to Creede. My goal was to hike in just past the San Luis pass and set up camp this same night, so I could start the route early Tuesday morning.

I rented a 4WD Ford 150, thankfully, which allowed me to make it the additional 1.6 miles up the road past the TH, to shorten the hike. I arrived at the 4WD trailhead at approximately 7:30pm. After getting my stuff together I took off towards San Luis pass and arrived there at approximately 8:15pm. The problem was I didn't know exactly where I was going to camp. I ended up going North over the pass (off the route), following a path (not the CT or CDT) that faded fast. It was getting dark quick and I didn't want to go to deep into the meadow as I didn't want to backtrack too far the next morning. I ended up camping NW of San Luis Pass, next to a stream. Not a great place to camp, but I was out of options.

If you want to camp, I would not recommend my location. I would follow the CT east into the basin (the standard South Ridge route). The camping is better and it is right off of the trail on your return trip from San Luis.

Route Overview

Segment 1 - Camp to Point 13,285
Start at 6:30am
Arrive at 8:56am
3.15 miles total for trip
*I camped .37 miles NW from San Luis pass. If you're starting from the 4WD TH, you should add 1.41 miles (so 4.56 miles total) to reach Point 13,285

This was a very straightforward segment up a gentle slope and offers great views of the route ahead. The second part of the segment includes decline over talus, followed by incline over talus. Stay to the left (along the ledge) down and up for the easiest path to the top of the peak. This is all class 1 and class 2 hiking. This is pictured here:

The section leading up to Point 13,285

Segment 2 - Point 13,285 to Point 13,180
Start at 8:55am
Arrive at 10:50am
5 miles total for trip (I forgot to record the mileage at this point, so this is an estimate)

The class 3 climbing starts immediately here and can be a little tricky. DO NOT start out directly east (straight) along the ridge here. This is what I did and I ended up doing a couple of class 4 moves before stalling out on a ledge that would have required a tricky down climb on crumbly rock. I backtracked, studied the map and read Roach's description to figure out my mistake. This cost me about 30 minutes of time.

At the summit of Point 13,285 looking down at the class 4 section

What you need to do is descend South from Point 13,285, approximately 50 feet, until you see a route that you can safely cross heading East (parallel with the ridge). You will eventually end up back on the saddle between Point 13,285 and Point 13,180. The class 3 climbing continues but the route finding is a little more straightforward, leading up to the unofficial summit of 13,225.

Looking up at the next section of climbing

From the top of 13,225 it is not clear which direction to go. Many of the routes look like they have potential but then appear to have steep drops. I ended up going South (right) off of the summit of 13,225, before turning back East again. As you descend, the route just seems to "come together" and places that seemed impassable are indeed passable. You will end up back on the ridge again with more class 3 to reach Point 13,180.

13,225 Elevation, Looking forward

13,225 Elevation, Looking behind you

Segment 3 - Point 13,180 to Point 13,155
Start at 10:50
Arrive at 12:10
6.24 miles total for trip

From the top of Point 13,180 you have a long stretch of Class 1, which is a nice break. As your approaching Point 13,155, things get more difficult again and you have a brief bit of class 3 scrambling to deal with on the North side of the ridge.

Gentle slopes leading to Point 13,155

After ascending this section, you will reach the Summit block of Point 13,155. I didn't climb this as it appears to be well beyond class 3. I spaced out on Roach's description of this section in the book.
According to Roach, you can climb the summit block on the North side (which is class 3). The time/mileage for this last summit block is not included in this report.

I was a little tired and was cramping up here, so I took a 25 minute break at this point.

Segment 4 - Point 13,155 to San Luis Peak
Start at 12:35 (after 25 minute break)
Arrive at 1:50
8.15 miles total for trip

View from Point 13,155 looking at San Luis Peak

The skies were clear, so I decided to head on to San Luis. I descended to the South Ridge route trail at the saddle of San Luis and headed on up. I was pretty exhausted at this point but decided to kick it into high gear in order to summit and avoid any possible storms. I summited at 1:50, ate a little, took some pictures and headed down after only 5 minutes.

Segment 5- San Luis Peak to Camp
Start at 1:55
Arrive at 5:40
Just over eleven hours to complete
14.38 miles total for trip
5,099 feet of elevation gain

A look at the 13ers ridge on the way down from San Luis Peak

This last segment is very straightforward class 1, the "South Ridge" route, but also very long. Fortunately there are several water sources on the way back to San Luis pass. Keep in mind that my mileage total is back to where I camped, 6+ miles from the summit of San Luis. It is an additional 1.41 miles to get back to the 4WD TH and an additional 3 miles to get back to the 2WD TH.

Overall, I loved this hike. It was a great challenge, lots of fun class 3 and I felt like the mix of terrain gave me adequate breaks to make the 14+ miles and 5000+ feet of elevation gain doable. My longest hike ever and still felt great for more hiking over the next two days.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

Comments or Questions
07/07/2014 03:23
I'm in love. Thanks for this report. Right up my alley!

Can you tell me...there is a place where 2WD cars can stop and park? I would not mind the extra mileage.

Nice to see these peaks getting some love.
07/07/2014 22:44
When I was up there, I though about tagging San Luis, but I felt I had a long enough day without.

goingup - I believe the mine improved the bypass road, so you should be able to get your car to whatever point you like. I also have a TR for the other set of 13ers with more mileage and elevation gain, if you like

2WD Parking
07/07/2014 22:55
Yes. 2WD drive cars can make it to the main TH which is about 1.6 miles further up 4WD trail road. Also, the road up to the 4WD drive section wasn't as bad as others and I think 2WD cars with a little better clearance can probably make it (but don't blame if your car doesn't! )

My car has zero
07/08/2014 00:13
clearance...would rather add on the extra miles than damage my car. Thanks guys! This is def. on my radar.

07/10/2014 04:47
Thanks for the trip report! I am hoping to do this route later this month. Did you happen to notice if there is any car camping near the trailhead or along the road leading to the trailhead?

07/10/2014 05:07
You can car camp at the 4WD TH. There is enough room for 2 or 3 tents on the West side of the TH. There is not a lot of traffic on this 14er and the route I describe so you shouldn't have a lot of competition for these spots. I didn't notice if there was car camping at the 2WD TH. The road between the 2WD TH and 4WD TH is pretty open, so there are probably camping spots along this route but I wasn't looking for them and didn't notice them.


07/10/2014 05:15
Thanks for the quick response. I'm planning on doing v2 in Roach's book, which is just below the 2WD TH. It's good to know I can camp at the higher TH if I can't find anything lower.

07/10/2014 05:21
For sure. Just to be clear on what I meant by ”open”. The road up to the TH and beyond to the 4WD TH is very open, like a big meadow, compared to some drives where it is very forested on both sides and camping is not feasible. Again, I didn't specifically look for and identify camping spots but I would be very surprised if you didn't find lots of options for camping where you are talking about.

07/10/2014 14:53
Cool route and write up. I thought 13155? went at two moves of 4th - one down low and one traversing near the top. A buddy disagrees with me and calls it all 3rd. I'm ridiculously short though so there's that.

Class 3/4 on 13155 Summit Block
07/10/2014 16:37
I pointed this out in my TR above but as I approached the block I thought for sure it was Class 4 and not part of the climb Roach described. When I reviewed Roach's description later it does include this block and says there IS a class 3 route. I didn't see it or climb it, so I can't say either way.

Going up
07/16/2014 16:17
We car camped at the end of the 4WD road past the last mine and hit the trail at 0630. We came up the trail and a large stick stuck in a cairn was pointing N/B at a point you can go either E/B or N/B so we hiked that way which added a ton of time onto our hike. We summited SL and made it almost all the way back and got slammed with weather lightning etc. at the saddle of last rise you have to go over on your way back to TH. With all the monsoons I'd suggest very early start.

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