Peak(s):  Little Bear Peak  -  14,037 feet
San Luis Peak  -  14,014 feet
Mt. Eolus  -  14,083 feet
North Eolus  -  14,039 feet
Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  08/12/2019
Date Climbed:   08/09/2019
Author:  connorhodes
 14er finisher trip   

After a long summer of hiking, it was finally time for our final trip, and if all went as planned, our 14er finisher.

My friend, Hunter, and I had been hiking the 14ers for 4 years, all working towards the goal of finishing all 58 before we left for college. We'd done 3 in 2015, 11 in 2016, 16 in 2017, 14 in 2018, and had 14 left to bag this summer to reach our goal. As the summer went on, we got closer and closer each week. We'd planned out our whole summer, having several big trips, each one consisting of 4 or 5 peaks. Although we had to rearrange some of them as we went, we finally got to our last trip.

Our final 4 ended up being 3 peaks we'd failed or bailed on (Little Bear, San Luis, and Mt. Eolus), and then Wilson Peak for our finisher.

The trip started with a Sunday night drive to the Little Bear trailhead. We made it pretty far up the road in an F-150, so our hike for the next day would only be about 10 miles. After an uncomfortable night sleep in the back of the truck, the alarm sounded at 4:00 and we got on our way. We had tried Little Bear several years earlier, but turned back after we had passed the hourglass, more out of fear and lack of experience than anything. This time, we knew we could handle it and we were hyped to finish off the Sangres with Little Bear. We flew up the scree field right after Lake Como and traversed over to the hourglass.

19658_01About to start up the hourglass

The hourglass has a stream running right down the middle of it, so it forces you to go around it and into some Low Class 5 climbing.19658_02

We stayed right at the rappel station and it was nothing too sketchy. Once you're passed the class 4, it's only a little bit of walking on extremely loose rock until you're at the summit.

19658_03Summit! Epic view of Blanca as the clouds rolled in.

Heading back down the hourglass was a lot tougher. It was some very difficult downclimbing, and we had a couple of close calls. The clouds dropped down into the gully, making for a pretty sweet looking descent.19658_04

We were very relieved to make it back below the hourglass, and we didn't waste much time getting back to the car. Our time was 3:15 up to the summit and about 2:30 from the summit to the car. Once we were back to the car, we loaded up and headed to Alamosa for some lunch and down time. We spent all afternoon in Alamosa, then made our way to Creede for San Luis. The road to the 4WD trailhead was nothing bad, so we were able to make it all the way up. We got to the trailhead before sunset and chilled for a little bit before heading to sleep.

Since we had a great weather forecast for the day, we slept in a bit and didn’t start til 6:30. San Luis and Little Bear are polar opposites, so it was a nice change of pace. 19658_05

It was a great hike and a really cool area. We made it up to the summit in about 2:30. 19658_062 14ers left!

From there, we drove to Durango to catch the train the next morning. We had been to Chicago Basin two years earlier, and it was not a great experience. We got rained on the entire time. We had managed to summit Sunlight and Windom on our first morning in the Basin, and woken up plenty early to hit Eolus and North Eolus. As we got near the catwalk, it started to snow, so we did North Eolus and then headed back down. Long story short, we still needed to do Mt. Eolus this summer in order to finish.

So we got to the train on time, boarded, and waited for the Needleton stop. The forecast for our 1-day stay was looking very similar to what it was 2 years earlier- lots of rain. On the whole approach, we were racing against the rain, hoping we could get a campsite and a tent up before it started to rain. We made it into the Basin in 2 hours, started setting up the tent, realized the tent was broken, fixed the tent for 30 minutes, then finished getting it set up juuuust in time to beat the rain. Getting a tent set up before the rain came meant all of our stuff would stay dry, so we considered the day a major win.

We stayed in the tent for a couple of hours, hearing the rain outside the entire time. Around 6:00, when the rain stopped, I went outside to fill up water. When I went out, there were still lots of clouds, but they looked a lot less threatening than before. We talked for a little bit and decided we would make a bid for the sunset summit. If it works out, it means we get to sleep in the next day. If it doesn’t, it could mean up to 5 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain and no summit, meaning we would have to try it the next morning as well. So around 6:30 pm, we left the campsite and made our way up the trail.

19658_07Heading up to Twin Lakes, looking back down at the Basin.

We made our way up to Twin Lakes, then crossed the stream at the lake and headed up towards Eolus. As we made our way up, the weather started to look better and better, and we realized we had a legit shot at making this work. We accidentally took a class 4 route that brought us up to the ridge in the middle of the catwalk rather than at the Eolus-N. Eolus saddle, but it turned out being really fun so we weren’t complaining. We crossed the catwalk just as the sun was setting, then scrambled up the face to reach the summit.

19658_08Going across the catwalk.

19658_09Summit #57!

From there, we headed down and to the saddle between the two peaks. I figured I might as well add another summit, so I scrambled up North Eolus a second time while Hunter chilled at the saddle.19658_10

We climbed back down to our campsite and took a lot of joy in cancelling the 4:00 alarm for the next morning. From our campsite to the summit was about 1:40, then we took our time on the way down and made the whole trip about 4 hours. With lots of rain forecasted for the next day, we decided we would head down to the train early and catch the 11:15 train going to Silverton (the one that drops off all the hikers) rather than the 3:30 train going back to Durango. Either way, we would end up in Durango at 6 (because we had to take the train back), but we figured we'd rather be on the train than in the rain. Needless to say, 5 hours on a train wasn't too exciting, but at least we stayed dry.

Once we were back in Durango, we fueled up with some of America's finest food (McDonald's) and drove to Telluride to do Wilson Peak the next day. Our families were driving out from Denver to hike/celebrate with us, so we linked up with them at a campsite outside Telluride.

The next morning, we woke up around 4:30, had a bit of a drive to the Rock of Ages trailhead, and started our hike around 6:00. There were a lot of clouds the entire day, so rain seemed inevitable, we were just hoping it would wait until after the summit.

19658_11First view of Wilson Peak in the morning.

We kept hiking up the mining road and eventually to the Rock of Ages saddle. We made the traverse to the other saddle, then started across the Class 3 ledges on the way to the false summit. Once we were up to the false summit, it was hard to wait any longer. We downclimbed about 40 feet, then started up the final climb to the summit. We scrambled up, then did the brief walk over to the summit. Damn that felt good.

19658_1214er finishers!

19658_13Celebrating with my dad and brother on top.

The weather cleared up perfectly for the summit, and we were able to chill up there for a while. Awesome day!

From there, we drove into Telluride to get some pizza to celebrate. We spent the next day rock climbing outside Telluride, then drove home on Sunday. Day-by-day, the trip looked like this:

Sunday 8/4- Drive to Little Bear

Monday 8/5- Summit Little Bear, drive to San Luis

Tuesday 8/6- Summit San Luis, drive to Durango

Wednesday 8/7- Ride the train, hike into Chicago Basin, Sunset summit of Eolus & North Eolus

Thursday 8/8- Pack up and hike out of the Basin, ride the train all day, drive from Durango to Telluride

Friday 8/9- Wilson Peak 14er finisher! Celebrate in Telluride

Saturday 8/10- Rock Climbing and exploring Telluride

Sunday 8/11- Driving back home to Denver

Overall, it was a really fun and really successful trip!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Comments or Questions
08/12/2019 13:03
Congrats on finishing the 14ers, way to end with some of the hard ones!

Fun times!
08/12/2019 14:27
Hey that was fun reading you young guys knocking that stuff out at a completely different pace than I can do. Congrats on a great accomplishment!

08/12/2019 15:25
Classy finish, Connor!

Congratulations !!!
08/12/2019 16:51
Way to finish strong. All great peaks. The Catwalk between Eolus and North Eolus is really amazing. Thanks for the report
Boom!!! You did em all.

Deja vu!
08/12/2019 17:02
Many of your experiences, including the satisfaction of completing that last one with some good friends and family, sound familiar.

Congratulations! I hope you find equal challenge and satisfaction in whatever comes next. Good luck!


Very nice!
08/13/2019 11:08
And a Coors Light on the summit of Wilson Peak...Of course!!

well done
08/13/2019 11:34
nice work guys!

08/14/2019 19:36
What's next? Centennials?

Strong Work
08/16/2019 20:21
That's amazing what a finisher trip! Now on to the Centennial Peaks!

Well done!
08/17/2019 08:53
Congrats! Very cool - thanks for sharing with us.

Congrats buddy.
08/20/2019 15:21
Love the Coors on Wilson... fitting. I'm 6 away from finishing and can't wait.

08/22/2019 20:33
Welcome to the humble 14er Finisher club. Keep getting up high and living life

Congrats and question
08/26/2019 12:19
Sounds like you guys had a great finish! Congrats.

I have a question regarding the San Luis trail. This will be my 2nd 14er as I did Handies last year. I am from the flatlands of TX and am an old fart that doesn€„¢t want to carry more water weight than I have to. Looks like the CDT trail portion of the hike crosses Spring Creek as a potential water refill spot. I checked Guthook, but last report was from 2018. Do you remember if this creek had flowing water on your trip?

Running water
08/26/2019 14:24
Yup! There is a creek that's flowing pretty well about 1.5 miles in. Good luck!

Thanks to everyone for the congratulations!

09/06/2019 09:40
congrats! i'm still getting used to exposure lol, that being said i'm on 10 down but they are getting more difficult. massive respect to you for finishing

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