Peak(s):  Culebra Peak  -  14,047 feet
San Luis Peak  -  14,014 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Handies Peak  -  14,048 feet
Redcloud Peak  -  14,034 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,001 feet
El Diente Peak  -  14,159 feet
Mt. Wilson  -  14,246 feet
Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  08/09/2021
Date Climbed:   07/24/2021
Author:  JDG7
 2021 Exped. - Culebra to the Wilson Group   

2021 JDG7 Expedition (14ers No. 44 - 53)

I have climbed 14ers off and on for 25 years. Only in the last 5 (since 2017), have i been serious about elevating my 14er game. The last 2 years, i finished the big hitters, Capitol, Little Bear, N. Maroon, Pyramid, etc), and now i needed to finish Culebra and the entire San Juan.

I live in St. Louis and have a demanding career. I get 1 week a year to finish what i can, and i make it a blowout 9/10 day set each year. I ran into many of you on the forum each year, and it is a blast going over the itinerary with you. It's nuts and i love it. So here is the 2021 report, in a nutshell.

Culebra Camp - before massive t-storms all night

CLIMB DAY 1 - SATURDAY: JULY 24, 2021 - CULEBRA (14er No. 44)

Culebra, 14er No. 44. - On July 23, flew into Denver, rental car, drive to CVR. slept overnight at the north gate, as is standard.

Climbed on 7/24. met nice guy, Kevin, who is on this platform. good to meet you. Massive T-storms hit overnight. Portended to the monsoon week that lie ahead.

Kev and I were the fast climbers that day, and we plowed through the driving white-out fog in these pics.

Winds were likely 45-50 mph steady, with 30-40 foot max visibility the entire way. We would have done Red, but not worth it given the conditions. It was good to get Culebra done. Never know when it will not be available anymore. It is one of the least inspiring peaks, though.

Stats: Distance: 9.44 (km) (we got off route a bit in the white out); Ascent: 930meters; Duration (04:16:51) (includes 20 min at summit)

GPS File: Culebra 14er climb (+1 route finding error)

Culebra Summit Ridge

Culebra Summit

That afternoon, drove couple of hours from CVR and over the the mining town of Creede to start on the San Juans.

Drove up West Willow Creek TH, set up high camp and enjoyed the Full Buck Moon overnight.

CLIMB DAY 2 - SUNDAY, JULY 25, 2021 - SAN LUIS PEAK (14er No. 45)

San Luis Peak Basecamp (West Willow Creek)

0200 hours, July 25th. The Full Buck Moon in brilliant display.

14er No. 45 - San Luis Peak Climb from the south ridge was a fun walkup, and crossing the two "bowls" on the Colorado Continental Divide Trail, including several re-ascents, were not bad. Just some fun cardio work. Wild flowers were beautiful. Weather held until about noon.

Started the climb at 0550 hours. One way: 9km up. Took 2 hours 17 min to climb up. Then returned by 1015 hours.

Wild Flowers along the way

San Luis's Morning Glow

San Luis Summit - Looking South (much of the trail is visible to the center and right of center)

Stats: Duration: 04:20:00; Distance: 18.18km; Ascent: 1,055m

GPS File:

Then it was time to jump back in the wrangler and boogie over to Lake City, then over to Matterhorn TH. The North Henson Creek Road was not boring. Need good 4WD clearance. it was fun. Then hiked up 2km to a great campsite before exiting the trees. Highly recommend this place (on left side of trail, after the switchback hill climb, but just before exiting the trees).

Matterhorn ABC Location Info: Here is the GPS track to the location, if you're interested.

Just after establishing Advanced Base Camp, was pounded by hail & intense T-storms for 4-5 hours. This was more than afternoon storms, it was def the summer-monsoon-system. so....slept early.


I knew the weather windows would be tight, and i had two 14ers to do, and the 5 mile expanse between the two was exposed above tree line, so speed was the order of Day 3.

Wetterhorn (left) & Matterhorn (right) connected by their great Traverse

21248_16Wetterhorn, it's Prow and its beautiful yellow band of rock.21248_2321248_2521248_2721248_30

Starting late (0659 hours): I went for Wetterhorn first, and summitted in 1 hr 40 min. The views of the traverse to the Matterhorn, and Uncomp beyond it, were absolutely stunning in the morning light. But at 0906 hours, i noticed the first cloud building over Uncomp.

Yeah....this view. Matterhorn (foreground) & Uncompahgre (background). That cloud is already starting to form on the south side of Uncomp at 0850 hours.

This meant i needed to rush down Wetterhorn, run the 5 miles over, climb Uncomp, back down, then back across the 5 miles to the campsite.

Taken on the way down Wetterhorn. Yeah, cloud buildup was changing each 10 min.


Stunning views from Wetterhorn.


Descent took 40 min (the 2:25 min mark) and 1 hour to reach the standard Uncomp Trail connect (the 3:24 min mark). Then i turned the screws. Summiting in 45 minutes, (04:09:00 mark) i was looking back at Wetterhorn's summit, the place i had been standing at 2.5 hours previously.



Data: Duration: 5:54:08 hours; Distance 22.41km; Ascent: 1,575m

GPX Data:

Made it back to ABC b4 storms hit, broke camp and hiked it down to the wrangler, drove back to Lake City, then down Hwy 30, and to Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch TH. Decided to push on to American Basin TH to set up for Handies first.


Woke at 0330 hours, and started handies at 0403 hours, summiting in 1hr 40 min. Caught the sunrise on top and then raced down in about 57 min.

Handies Sunrise Summit

Way down from Handies. Moon in brilliant early light.

American Basin waterfalls

Data: Duration: 02:38:39 hours. Distance 10.37km; Ascent: 805m

Handies GPX File:

Now that the appetizer was finished, after a 30 min drove down to Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch TH, it was time to attack the main course: Redcloud & Sunshine.

Choosing the standard Redcloud/Sunshine/Redcloud route, and starting at 0733 hours, it was time to turn the screws. I hit the trail hard and pressed. Summiting Redcloud in 2 hours 3 min, i sprinted for Sunshine without stopping, trying to hit all 3 14ers by 1030 hours. Hitting Sunshine at the 2 hr 40 min mark, I summited the 3rd 14er at 1021 hours, beating my goal by 9 minutes. Although arbitrary, that was nice. Then it was time to race back down in an out-and-back manner.

Sunshine Peak at 1030 hours - Looking over at Handies, where I had been at 0600 hours.

The old/bald/ugly mountaineer, on the 3rd 14er of the day (Sunshine summit) (Redcloud in background)

Back on Redcloud Summit. Stopping for a moment to take a last look at Sunshine.

Descending Redcloud by 1100 hours. Surprising the clouds held off til then.

Redcloud Summit Pano

Finishing the 3 14er Tuesday Slam on July 27th by 1230 hours. Handies framed in the distance, with the Full Buck Moon still aloft.

Data (Redcloud & Sunshine): Duration: 4:41:07. 18.78km. 1,390m Ascent.

Redcloud/Sunshine GPX File:

Then I had to drive 6 hours back out to Lake City, up to near Gunnison, taking Hwy 50 to Montrose, diverted by way of Hwy 92 around the blasting work, through Telluride and finally arriving that evening at the Navajo Basin TH.

The next morning set off to spend several days at Nav Lake. Set up ABC next to the lake. Beautiful location, and waiting for 3 of my brothers to drive in and join me for the Wilson group starting the next day.

CLIMB DAY 5 - JULY 29, 2021 - EL DIENTE (b/w/o North Buttress) No. 51 & Mount Wilson (b/w/o Traverse) No. 52

I had told the gang that i would guide them up the North Buttress of El Diente, and then we would do the Great Traverse to Mt. Wilson, finishing with the North Slope descent of Mount Wilson. Since this was a Class 4 x3 set up, route finding was important.

I reconn'ed the route the evening before, and got some nice, shots of Nav Lake and the campground area.

El Diente's North Buttress, with most of the "benches" demarcated.

Nav Lake ABC

Gladstone presiding over Nav Lake

North Buttress Route on El Diente

Guiding the guys up El D's N. Buttress was a blast, although my GPX data failed on this one. We took it slow and enjoyed ourselves. Piecing the route together was great. We made it back in time before the hail came in torrents in the midafternoon.

Climbing up The Hump.


The old grizzled route finder. Upon locating "The Ledge" location.


Summit of El Diente - looking across the traverse to Mt. Wilson (center) and Gladstone beyond (left)


After just passing the Gendarmes

21248_50The Great Traverse between El Diente & Mount Wilson

21248_51Summit of Mount Wilson

Wilson Peak - from El Diente Summit

Wilson Peak (left) and Gladstone (right) with the connecting traverse, slated for the final climb day - taken from Mount Wilson - July 29, 2021

CLIMB DAY 6 - FRIDAY, JULY 30, 2021 - Wilson Peak (SW Ridge) - No. 53 & Gladstone Peak (N. Ridge) (Centennial)

2 of the brothers had enough, and only 1 would continue on for this day. Joshua said he would hit Wilson Peak with me, but he didn't want to hold me back for the sprint over to Gladstone. So we set off at 0524 hours. We took a leisurely pace up Wilson Peak, as we could tell the weather would hold. This was sort of a victory lap for the week. We went by way of Rock of Ages pass, then enjoyed the Class 3 approach and summited, enjoying the views of Lizard Head coming in and out of the fog.

Starting out on the final climb day, it was cloudy and ominous by 0600 hours

Wilson Peak was beautiful in the moving fog.

Joshua enjoying the Class 3 approaches to Wilson Peak

Joshua on Wilson Peak summit. Looking to the east.

Lizard Head entering and exiting the stage. Ever a thing of beauty. If only we could have seen this in 1920!

Then we separated at the Rock of Ages and I sprinted the long Class 4 traverse to Gladstone, completing it in 80 minutes, spending 5 minutes at the summit, then descending Gladstone, crossing half the traverse, and exiting straight down on the connecting, running for Nav Lake. Upon reaching Nav Lake in 80 minutes, we packed up and hiked out and then drove back to Denver. Then it was time to fly back to St. Louis.

Gladstone's Summit Crowbar, with Lizard Head proudly standing guard.

Pano from Gladstone: of Mount Wilson, El Diente & Wilson Peak

Data: Duration: 06:39:20 hours; Distance: 12.18km; Ascent: 1,265m

GPX File:

This was a great week, and many wonderful memories were made. I met several of you here as i was pushing on these summits, and it was a pleasure meeting each of your. Next year, God willing, will be the end of this quarter century long project, and then it will be time to move to the next step in mountaineering. Hopefully i will get to meet more of you next year before it will be time to move on.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice work
08/10/2021 01:01
Way to make the most of your week. Nice to see a fellow St. Louis peak bagger really getting after it.

Beautiful pics!
08/10/2021 08:09

08/10/2021 13:18
always a blast to climb with you...5 more...

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