Peak(s):  Sunlight Peak  -  14,061 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,087 feet
North Eolus  -  14,042 feet
Glacier Point  -  13,704 feet
Date Posted:  08/17/2015
Modified:  08/18/2015
Date Climbed:   08/13/2015
Author:  Gene913
Additional Members:   ElDChopper
 Finishing Up the San Juans - Sunlight and More   

My first two trips into Chicago Basin were in 2003 and 2004. On those trips we were plagued by rain and/or bad weather that prevented climbing for a full day on each trip. The goal on this third trip was to finish off my remaining San Juan 14ers, Sunlight and North Eolus.
Mission accomplished.

Joining me was member ElDChopper, as well as TV (Gary Groff) and Breakfast (Jim Lord).

We left on the afternoon train from Silverton on Wednesday, August 12. We casually backpacked into Chicago Basin, knowing we would not catch up to the Durango crowd dropped off ahead of us at Needleton, and hoping there would still be plenty of available campsites in Chicago Basin in view of our midweek arrival. Our hopes were fulfilled. We found a lovely spot near the entrance to the Basin, and were able to get the tents up and eat dinner well before dark. Then it was off to bed in anticipation of an early start the next day.

We left camp at 4 a.m. It took us 45 minutes to hike to the Twin Lakes turnoff and we were in the Twin Lakes basin at 6 a.m. We reached the Sunlight summit at 8:30. The weather was perfect. Thanks to Bill's route description, route finding was a non-issue. Everything about the day was excellent. On the summit block move, I found there was no need for the so-called "leap of faith". It's a walk in the park. I was just stretching out the legs at 60 years old.

We dropped off the Sunlight summit, and contoured around the basin between Sunlight and Windom, in anticipation of a possible Windom summit attempt. ElDChopper and I had summited Windom on earlier climbs, and Gary was a little tired, so when we reached a spot where it was easy to access the ridge to Windom, the three of us decided to call it a day while Jim soloed Windom. The three of us were back at camp by 1:00 and Jim got there at 3:00.

It was another early start on Friday, and another perfect weather day. There were some folks crossing the cat walk when we got to the Eolus/N. Eolus saddle, so we elected to go for N. Eolus first, which we summited at 8:00 a.m. We dropped back down to the saddle, strolled across the catwalk, and made our way up to Eolus, with the summit gained at 9:15. After enjoying the summit for nearly an hour, we headed down. While descending, we could not help but notice 13,704 foot Glacier Point, which Roach describes as an "extra credit" peak. Jim and I decided to go take a look and were glad we did. We ambled across the small scree that makes up the slope, but the grade was not steep so the scree was tolerable. We aimed for a gap low in the ridge, and we made it there in no time. The solid rock on the ridge made for an easy scramble to the summit.

Glacier Point with Sunlight in the background

From the summit of Glacier, you get a view into the No Name Creek Basin and are also rewarded with views of all four Chicago Basin 14ers. It was very humbling to look at all of them and know that I had stood on the summit of each one. Jim and I were back to camp a little before 3:00.

The next day was an easy hike out to Needleton to catch the train back to Silverton. Chicago Basin is a special place. I have 4 more 14ers to summit on the list of 58, and those will be a priority for my next climbs, but I hope I do not let another 10 years pass before I return to Chicago Basin.

This is a link to the map created by my Delorme InReach:

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

Comments or Questions
08/17/2015 16:22
Great meeting you Gene, thanks for the report!

Thanks for the report
08/18/2015 07:03
We are planning to go to Chicago Basin next week, where we will spend 4 nights. In retrospect, any advice on where to make an extensive campsite? How were the mosquitoes?

Nice report
08/18/2015 11:51
I wish I was able to make it, if for nothing else to see what Gary looks like when he’s a little tired.

C Basin Beta
08/18/2015 12:08
Orion – there are a multitude of campsites throughout the more than mile length of the basin. Having sampled three different locations, I can honestly say there was not a bad one among them. The only real difficulty is deciding whether to grab the first available open site as you enter and then move up into the basin, or continue on in hopes of finding something closer to the turnoff for the trail to Twin Lakes. The classic bird in the hand dilemma. The mosquitos and flies were not bad when we were there. A few every now and then, but no swarms. It was a little chilly when the sun was not out. Anyone whose body temperature runs cold would probably welcome an extra layer or two. Enjoy your trip and the push toward finishing off the 14ers.

Will – it was great meeting you and Amy. The two of you are outdoor/climbing rock stars. Reach out anytime if you have any questions or just want to chat. I know God has great plans for both of you and that the two of you are committed to discerning what new purpose He has for you. peace and grace.

08/18/2015 12:18
Subway – You definitely will be on the list of invitees for the two I have left in the Elks as well as the two left in the Sangres. We need to reassemble the team from the Yale and Columbia ascents. BTW – Gary, a/k/a "TV" a/k/a "Superman" looks just as forlorn as the rest of us when he is tired – it just doesn’t happen as often for him as it does for the rest of us.

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