Peak(s):  West Spanish Peak  -  13,626 feet
Date Posted:  11/03/2021
Date Climbed:   10/31/2021
Author:  USAKeller
 Fall in the Spanish Peaks Wilderness   

West Spanish Peak - Southwest Ridge

Date: Sunday, October 31, 2021
Route: Southwest Ridge from Cordova Pass (West TH)
Stats: ~7 miles l 2,680' gain l 5.75 hrs RT

It's been a hot minute (actually a long and arduous 7 years) since I've written a trip report for this site, so bear with my rustiness. West Spanish Peak has been one of those intriguing peaks higher up on my priority list for some time now. With a great weather forecast, I left Saturday afternoon and camped at a pull-off along the side of CR 46. My friend Kristin and her 12 lb. Jack Russell Terrier (Swayze) met me at the West Trailhead just after 7am and we were on trail at 7:20am.

Starting the morning off with a fiery sunrise, Sangre-style. Someone spilled some paint:


Following the Class 1 trail through the first meadow opening, West Spanish begins to reveal herself:


West Spanish in all of her morning glory comes into solid view as we cross the second meadow:


We were back in the trees for awhile following several switchbacks up the nice trail. A few spots on this section gave wonderful views of the Blanca Massif and Culebra Range. After leaving tree line the trails gets pretty steep pretty quickly, and is certainly showered with loose scree and talus in many areas, just as the other trip reports have stated.

Pano from the final switchback at 11,800' as we exit timberline; the awfully dry Blanca Massif is pictured in center.


Taken near 11,900', it's impossible to miss the giant cairn in front of you. From here, the SW Ridge doesn't appear as steep as it truly is:


Looking back down the steep ridge from ~13,500'. The Culebra Range looms behind:


There definitely is a trail all the way to the summit with cairns, albeit faint in several places. I'll echo what other trip reports say to stay climbers left along the ridge when possible. Near 13,400', the steep grade lessens a little bit as you approach a small landing at ~13,500'. We reached the false summit (which has the summit cairn) just under 3 hours at 10:15am. The true summit is just a few minutes east of there and after a photo there, we went back for some wind protection at the false summit cairn.

The remaining route to the summit (false summit seen here) from ~13,500':


Kristin walking back to the false summit (taken from the true summit looking west). Blanca Group off to the distant right:


Kristin, Swayze (who was the star of the show), and I on the summit:


A closer look at the Blanca Group:


After a short 15-minute summit break, we started back down at 10:30am and made it back to the cars in 2.5 hours at 1:00pm. What an awesome fall day to spend in the beautifully unique Spanish Peaks Wilderness!

Topo of the route:


My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
11/03/2021 08:18
Caroline, so nice to see a trip report from you. ;-) Love the colors and the smiles. Hope you are doing well. Happy trails!

Lovely hearing from you!
11/03/2021 13:00
Yes - I am, had a brutal 5 -year knee injury so it's been about 7 years! Thank you - appreciate you commenting I hope you are well also!!

11/04/2021 08:43
..thanks for your report and in FL , I don't get out there enough..I camped at Puratory camp ground this June , but weather did not allow summit bid..

11/04/2021 09:08
Beautiful phots, what a sunrise! Looked like a great day! Welcome back!

What a Story
11/04/2021 11:56
I cried as I read your story from the external link. I fell and endured recovery from a compound complex fracture. Now I'm working through knee replacement. I'm not going to complain one bit after reading what you experienced. So sorry for all your pain and here's praying it's all behind you.

Welcome back!
11/04/2021 20:09
Great to see you back in the hills, Caroline!

Blessings to you! Ps 121

You have been missed!
11/04/2021 22:45
Welcome back Caroline! So glad to see that your knee recovery has progressed and that God has given you healing and the opportunity climb these glorious mountains again. Woohoo! I celebrate with you!

11/04/2021 22:58
That's not an easy peak for the knees. The summit is worth it, but it's sure a steep, unrelenting adversary. It was a peak I had wanted to get ever since I started getting summits back in 2007, I'm glad I got it under my belt. Looks like you did get a great weather day to get out there and grab the bull by the horns. Nicely done.

Nice report
11/05/2021 19:50
Hey Caroline, nice to see you active again and cool report. I was planning on the Spanish Peaks and a few others before Covid hit. Hope to put a dent in my still sad 13er list in 2022. Hope to see you out there!

11/06/2021 10:18
I haven't logged in in years, nor written anything for a decade. But, I always lurk and it's just wonderful to see you sharing here again. The community built here during the mid-2000s went through a lot together and I always appreciated that time. Thank you for sharing!

Never Give Up
11/06/2021 17:54
Thank you for sharing your story Caroline! We don‘t know each other. Your story is truly inspirational! Glad you are back!

well done Caroline
11/08/2021 15:25
I am very happy for you to be able to get back on the mountains and what has helped you get back. may you continue to find solace and joy in them. inspirational for the rest of us, thank you for sharing

Great Job
11/10/2021 11:01
Great report and pictures, inspires me to take the trip down and climb this beautiful peak

11/15/2021 07:43
Glad to see u are back at it. Love your TR‘s.

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