Peak(s):  Jones Mountain A  -  13,860 feet
Niagara Peak  -  13,807 feet
Date Posted:  07/06/2014
Modified:  08/12/2015
Date Climbed:   07/01/2014
Author:  MountainHiker
Additional Members:   MountainHikerette
 Niagara & Jones from Burns Gulch   

Jones 13,860' & Niagara 13,807' from Burns Gulch Tuesday July 1, 2014

Ian MountainHiker), Dorthe(MountainHikerette), climbing bear Snowball, Steve, Michelle & climbing Corgi Jazzy.

Evening sun hitting Jones & Niagara.

The first issue most will encounter is the Burns Gulch Road. If you have a sturdy 4WD you can start significantly higher than with a passenger car. From the Silverton side of the Cinnamon Pass road, Burns Gulch leaves the main road before actually turning up the pass. UTM 275154 4199799 10,853' NAD83/WGS84 The most direct access you'll see to this road would have you fording the Animas River. But a couple hundred meters upstream the main road crosses the Animas. You can then use the beginning of the Grouse Gulch road to access Burns Gulch road without having to ford the river. You'll still have to drive across the Grouse Gulch creek, but that shouldn't be a problem if your vehicle is capable of driving up the Burns Gulch road. The first part of the road is a narrow shelf where it's not fun to meet another vehicle.

We arrived before our friends Steve & Michelle, so we drove the Burns Gulch road first to reconnoiter. At about 1.5 miles and 11,600' I declared the road was getting too rough with loose rolling rocks. 276423 4197850 11626'. Plus, there weren't a lot of places to pull off. Just above this point, there was an old mine site on the left that would have worked for parking. If it had been just us, that's probably where we would have stayed. But Steve & Michelle were driving a Rainier with regular tires and running boards and I didn't want to re-drive the rougher stretch. On the way down we saw the spot we would camp at. There was a pull-out on each side. 275933 4198416 11,365' Higher up snow was blocking the road.

This spot is on the right side of the road heading up. It appeared to be an older version of the road now growing over.

Roach describes following the road to its highest point and then a trail to the pass. This is true, but for us the trail disappeared under snow in several places. Fortunately the trail did show itself for the section gaining the pass. As Roach points out, the trail gains the pass on the Jones side of the saddle.

We did Niagara first. Niagara has a trail leading up through the rocky area on the lower part of the ridge. We then encountered the snow. Our axes were back in the Jeep, and they would have been nice to have for this stretch. We did wear our MicroSpikes and use poles. Note, this snow wasn't apparent from the campsite! We were able to skirt much of the snow on the way down, but still had to cross it in a couple places. The route is much easier to see from above.

Niagara from the saddle

Snow higher on Niagara. We descended on the rock picture left, but still had to cross steep snow to get to it.

Dorthe arriving at summit of Niagara

From the saddle Jones has a fairly good trail to the summit. We crossed snow a couple times but it wasn't an issue. The summit push trail is perched on a lot of loose rock that would need some work to stand up to fourteener traffic.

Looking over at Jones from Niagara

Jones from Niagara

Looking back at Niagara from Jones

Dorthe arriving at summit of Jones

We had thoughts of doing American 13,806' next. But looking over to it we saw a snow crossing at a saddle we didn't like. Maybe it would have been okay with proper snow/ice gear. But we didn't feel motivated for the long round trip to check it out. Part of the decision was knowing American is steeper on the side we couldn't see. When we did Handies a couple days later we could see snow on that side of the same saddle. Maybe it would have been okay, but we contented ourselves with 2 thirteeners. Of course this means we'll get to make another trip someday to do American.

American Peak from Jones

American Peak from Handies with Niagara & Jones peaking over the right side

Comments or Questions
FaceBook Album
07/06/2014 20:13
Some more pictures from the San Juans trip shared on FaceBook. Don't know the trick to get the link to work. If you copy - paste that seems to work.

American traverse is snow free
07/07/2014 19:40
I climbed the same peaks July 5 and made the traverse to American. The snow on the saddle below American can be skirted on the north side, you just needed to step around it. I also doubted the ability to cross that snow, but the route amazingly skirted several places with steep snow. Of course, I noticed this only on the return from American. On the ascending traverse, I crossed several sketchy snow patches that could have been avoided it you carefully looked for the use trail.

07/08/2014 00:53
kmensch thanks for the info. At least we'll know for next time.

Nice peaks, nice report!
07/08/2014 02:26
Enjoyed reading this. Nolan and I did that pair from that side last year. We started towards American but decided we didn't want to deal with side-hilling on that unstable talus, so we also contended ourselves with two. Really pleasant area. Plus some decent views of (reconnaissance on??) the Weminuche peaks.

Nice write up
07/08/2014 15:56
and excellant pics!

04/02/2015 19:45
for the timely report! Did all 3 peaks yestersday. Glad to bring ice ax and microspikes for Niagara, as snow was a bit icy in the morning. However, after 10am, snow warmed up and I was comfortable with just poles and boots on all the snow crossings. They were pirobably avoidable, but I didn't bother, and my boots got soaked! Such scenic area!

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