Peak(s):  Monitor Peak  -  13,695 feet
Animas Mountain  -  13,786 feet
Date Posted:  09/13/2021
Modified:  09/15/2021
Date Climbed:   09/11/2021
Author:  WildWanderer
 From Purgatory / Ruby Basin   

Monitor Peak – 13,695 and Animas Mountain – 13,786


21370_01

RT Length: 45.07 miles

Elevation Gain: 12,724’


I started this hike from Purgatory Creek Trailhead. I’ve put together a route description of the trek from Purgatory to Ruby Basin, which can be found here.


For my first day in, I decided to camp at the Ruby Basin junction. I started at 3pm and made it to my camping spot at 6:45pm. I made it to the train tracks just as a train was approaching, to which a passenger pointed at me and said “Hey look: Wildlife!” and everyone got out their cameras and waved at me. I smiled and waved back. I gathered some acorns to snack on as I hiked (just before the railroad tracks there are tons of scrub oak, and the acorns are now in season).


21370_02

I was so glad it didn’t rain! I think this is the first time I’ve done this approach where it hasn’t rained. As I got closer to my camping spot, I came across two girls camping there already. I chatted with them for a minute: they were headed to Ruby Basin too, to hike Turret. I wished them well and picked a spot closer to the Ruby Basin junction to set up for the night. I dried out my clothes as best I could, ate some popcorn, and went to bed.


21370_03

It was a warm but windy night. I was up early, and spent a good half hour just stargazing. Eventually I got up and was on the trail at 5:45am, headed to Ruby Lake. I made it to the lake just before 9am. Today I was taking my time, so I sat by the lake for a bit, filtered water, and watched the trout swim by the shore, every once in a while snagging a fly for breakfast.


21370_04

My only goal today was to make it to Ruby Basin. I knew it wouldn’t take long, but I wanted to hike in the cool of the morning, instead of the heat of the day. Here’s looking back at Ruby Lake from just before making it to the basin


21370_05

I made it to Ruby Basin, in all its willow filled splendor, at 10:45am. For those doing the math, it took me less than 5 hours to hike from the Ruby Basin cutoff to Ruby Basin, and I took my time.


21370_06

There was a tent set up in the far side of the basin (east), but I didn’t see anyone camping there. Basically, I had the basin to myself. I strapped on my creek crossing shoes and took a walk in the creek(s). They were running at a trickle.


21370_07

I relaxed for the next few hours, drying out, enjoying the sunshine, and going over my notes for my day tomorrow. This was my second attempt at these peaks. It hurt to turn around last time, but I had bad beta (and not enough beta, as I had other goals in mind and these peaks had been secondary). I’d been up in my head that entire weekend, and in the end turned around much sooner than I should have. I went home, got better beta, and was now back to attempt these peaks again. Around 2pm I saw the girls I’d met the night before enter the basin, and to my surprise, they headed directly up Turret. Rock on ladies!


Also, there were bees and crickets. Crickets everywhere! They jumped around my ankles as I walked through the basin, munched on my journal and hopped onto my gear. I ate dinner and went to bed as the sun was going down (it goes down over Turret early this time of year).


Once again, I got up before my alarm, and spent some time stargazing. I saw several shooting stars, and a few airplanes coasting across the night sky. There was no moon, but I could see the stars clearly. I made out a few constellations, and noted the frost on the outside of my bivy. I wanted to start at first light, but ended up starting a little earlier, around 6am. These are the peaks I was attempting today


21370_08

Here’s an overview of the route from Ruby Basin to the upper basin below Animas, Peak 13, and Monitor. After about 20 feet of willows, I was able to stay on tundra the entire time. This is choose your own adventure, but it’s easy to find a class 2 route into the upper basin. I just kept aiming towards Peak 13.


21370_09


21370_10

Here’s a look at the upper basin.


21370_11

I was headed towards Monitor Peak first. There are several ways to do this. This time I took what I consider to be the ‘easy’ approach. Directly below Peak 13 there are two ramps you can ascend. I chose the further one, as it was less steep. I followed the basin northeast, towards an obvious ramp. It’s just below a section of a white and black streaked slab.


21370_12

Here are some closer pictures. There are two ramps here, an upper ramp and a lower ramp. Both go, but the upper ramp is less steep, and all class 2 in my opinion.


21370_13

Also, while you’re here, look to your right. Find this gully (circled in red). It’s the gully you will be aiming for when ascending the ridge (ascending to the ridge before this point is fruitless). Here’s an overall view of the climb to Monitor from the Peak 13/Monitor saddle. You’ll know you’re in the right gully because there’s a white vein of rock going through it (more on this later, but from this spot you can clearly see the white vein, so it’s a good time to get a visual of where you’re aiming).


21370_14

But first, let’s get to the saddle, by going up that ramp. As you can see, it’s wide, and easy to navigate.


21370_15

The top of the ramp deposited me at the Peak 13/Monitor saddle. Well, actually, I didn’t need to go all the way to the saddle. I skirted the saddle and continued south across scree, following the ridge.


21370_16

Now for the gullies. There are several of them, and in order to cross the first one I had to descend about 100 feet down, then re-ascend. Before doing that however, I got a good look at my route. This looks harder than it is. Here’s the route I took after re-ascending the gully.


21370_17

But first, I had to descend on kitty-litter scree, and then re-ascend.


21370_18

When re-ascending there were a couple of ways I could have gone (all felt class 3). This is the way I chose.


21370_19

Get a good look at your intended route from above, as this is what it looks like from below. Hint: aim for this rock, go behind it, turn right, and follow the areas covered in dirt.


21370_20

Ok, now to find that gully. Luckily, from here there were cairns, and even a bit of a game trail. I followed them south, staying well below the ridge


21370_21


21370_22

I rounded the corner, and could clearly see the correct gully. I followed this gully to the ridge


21370_23


21370_24

Once on the ridge, I turned right, and followed it to the summit, dipping to the right at the end, but always following a class 2 game trail.


21370_25


21370_26

I summited Monitor Peak at 8am.


21370_27

Monitor Peak:

There was a summit register in need of new paper (but with 2 pencils), and great views!


21370_28

Next on the agenda was Peak 13. Spoiler alert: I didn’t summit Peak 13. When I got to the area where I was supposed to “just go straight up” I found that while it was class 4, there were no hand/foot holds, and everything I tried to grasp turned to kitty litter in my hands. Since I hike solo, I have a rule not to upclimb anything I don’t think I can downclimb (if I don’t have rope), and while I could probably have upclimbed this, I wouldn’t have been able to downclimb it, and a fall would be deadly (lots of exposure). In any event, I’ll describe the process of getting there. Now is also a good time to get a visual of how I climbed Animas Mountain as well. These were my routes:


21370_52

From the summit of Monitor Peak, I headed back to the Monitor/13 saddle, retracing my steps

21370_30
21370_31


21370_32

Once at the saddle I followed it northeast, to an obvious stopping point. Here I turned to head up, and, like I said before, I deemed it unsafe, so I turned around, tried several other ‘ledges’, and in the end decided to just head back to the upper basin and summit Animas from the gully. I was very happy with this choice. Here are pictures of the two possible routes up to Peak 13 I decided not to take


21370_33

Instead, I descended back into the upper basin by way of the upper ramp.


21370_34

I followed the contour of the mountain all the way down to 12860’, and the only obvious gully that ‘went’


21370_35


I then followed this gully north. There are lots of divergences here, but if you keep heading north, they all seem to ‘go’. I just kept the spires to my left and followed the obvious contour of the gully. I as able to keep this all class 3. If you’re in class 4 territory, back up and look for an easier route.


21370_36


21370_37

When I made it to 13580’ I headed east, towards the sandy saddle between Monitor and 13500’


21370_38


21370_39

I didn’t go all the way to the saddle however, because I saw cairns leading me up the ridge (class 2).


21370_40

Here’s the overall route to the summit, all well cairned. The circled area is a brief class 4 chimney section (less than 10 feet or so) that is the only obvious way out of the gully. When you make it above the chimney you’re about 20 vertical feet from the summit on easy to navigate ledges.


21370_41

To get up the chimney I jammed my arms into either side and used my forearms to lift myself up. On the way down, I faced the rock and put both hands/arms in the left crack to lower myself down. You may be asking yourself why I was fine climbing this chimney and not the class 4 section on Peak 13? It’s because the rock here was firm, and I didn’t have to worry about it crumbling in my hands as I was climbing. When I made it to the top of the chimney I turned right and followed the cairns to the summit.


21370_42


21370_43

I summited Animas Mountain at 10:30am

21370_44


21370_45

Animas Mountain:

There was a trail register in dire need of paper. With no place to sign I put it back and turned and descended the same way I ascended, back to the saddle, and then down the gully. Note, I did not descend the scree filled gully, but instead the rocky one I ascended, this time keeping the rock spires to my right.


21370_46

Once in the upper basin I headed southwest on the slope, back to my campsite. It helped to stay to the right of the waterfall area, on the tundra.


21370_47

I made it back to my campsite in the Ruby Basin at 11:40am. I ate lunch, packed up my gear, thanked the marmots for not messing with it this time, and headed back through the willows towards Ruby Lake. It was a really hot day. I stopped at the lake to dip my bandana in the water and cool off my face. The water felt so good! As I was skirting the lake and looking at the clear water I couldn’t help but want to jump in. I did some mental calculations, and before I could stop myself I set all my stuff aside and went into the lake. I swam around for a few minutes, hopped back out, dried off in the sun (it only took about 30 seconds in the dry Colorado heat) dressed and was back on the trail within 10 minutes.


21370_48

I made it to the Chicago Basin cutoff and decided to once again spend the night. There was a woman in a hammock waiting for her husband, who was running the Chicago Basin 14ers (woot!). I couldn’t help thinking to myself how I wish I could find a partner who would support me like that (or join me?). I set up my gear, talked with a man who’d lost his water filter and had a busted eyebrow (he got it crossing the creek?). I told him where to find the train, and campsites, and made it an early night (again). I woke up before my alarm, and was on the trail at 4am, out and back at the Purgatory trailhead at 8am. Side note: hiking in the Purgatory Flats area on the way out was by far the coldest part of my weekend. By this time I’d already taken off my coat and gloves, but had to put them back on because the temperatures were so cold. I’m thinking this isn’t the best place to camp for the night.


CalTopo tells me my stats were 45.07 miles with 12724’ of elevation gain.


21370_49


21370_50



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 52


Comments or Questions
9patrickmurphy
User
Fifteen
09/13/2021 11:45
I'm surprised you dind't spend an extra night and go for Fifteen. You must really like hiking into Ruby!


TomPierce
Dry!
09/13/2021 11:49
Hey WW,

Wow. I've been in that basin...4 times? I think that's right. Anyway, I've never seen the stream as dry/non-existent as in your pic (#7 or #11, depending on how you count). Must be super dry up there for sure. Congrats on your peaks!

-Tom


WildWanderer
User
Finisher
09/13/2021 11:51
I attempted Peak 15 solo a few weeks back, and decided I'd rather have a partner and be on belay (etc), as a slip would have deadly consequences. I'm free all month, but no one I've talked with who's qualified for this climb is able to go until later in the month/next month. And so, I wait And yes, I like hiking into Ruby: I don't mind long backpacking trips! I could do this one with my eyes closed at this point...


WildWanderer
User
Dry Creek
09/13/2021 11:52
Yes, I was surprised too at how dry the creek was! I plan on going up there at least once more this season, and will make sure to filter water at Ruby Lake.


turbocat
User
Photo #33 is super cool...
09/13/2021 13:39
Great shot of the shadow with Pigeon Peak in the background. As always, great TR. Ruby Basin is worth the effort. Such a special place.


Tufftommy-BV
User
Just oneā€¦
09/13/2021 14:23
to go! Great job getting after it. I did that trio this same time last year and your pictures brought back how much I enjoyed them.

I was just a little ways away in the Vestal Basin and it was COLD there at night! TT


desertdog
User
Good move
09/15/2021 06:47
We climbed these on 9.10. I‘m surprised we didn‘t see you. I bet that was your orange or yellow tent we saw in the basin? Good move on PK 13. We climbed it but questioned ourselves. It was loose and dangerous. The west side on the down climb wasn‘t bad, thank goodness.

Thanks for your TRs Richard


Marmot72
User
great work
09/15/2021 09:50
Your route up Monitor made more sense than the one Tuftommy and I took last year. In our defense, we were maneuvering in the pre-dawn gloom as we had to nab the peaks and head out to avoid an early snowstorm. Good pics and beta.



   Not registered?


Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. 14ers.com and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless 14ers.com and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the 14ers.com Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: 14ers.com supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022 14ers.com®, 14ers Inc.