Peak(s):  Wood Mtn A  -  13,660 feet
PT 13,688  -  13,688 feet
Gravel Mtn A  -  13,577 feet
Seigal Mtn  -  13,274 feet
PT 13,708  -  13,708 feet
"Animas Forks Mtn"  -  13,722 feet
PT 13,535  -  13,535 feet
Cinnamon Mtn A  -  13,328 feet
Date Posted:  06/15/2022
Date Climbed:   08/10/2021
Author:  supranihilest
 Skywalk of Souls   

The day before I had climbed Point 13,427, Point 13,540, "C.T. Peak", and "Gudy Peak", and from there made my way up to where Hinsdale County Road 30 splits to American Basin and Cinnamon Pass. I found a pull-off just beyond this junction and slept in the van. I probably could have driven it up to Cinnamon Pass (someone drove what looked like a Chevy Astro up to the pass from the Lake City side, to my amazement) but I didn't want to beat it up too bad and wasn't sure if I'd get stuck at any of the switchbacks. Besides, hiking extra road isn't much extra work. I left at around 7:40am, after sleeping in for an hour. I rarely find that sleeping in wasn't worth it. The road quickly took me to just below the pass, where I departed on dirt and grass towards my first peak of the day, Wood Mountain A.

21605_01
Start of County Road 12 (immediate foreground) to American Basin, with the road to Cinnamon Pass and Lake City on left and right, respectively.
21605_02
Handies Peak and American Basin.
21605_03
Starting up the steep road to Cinnamon Pass. It looks graded but there's large rocks, potholes, and other obstacles along the way.
21605_04
Wood Mountain A.

Wood Mountain A really wasn't much of a peak and had easy Class 2 access, mostly on grass with a bit of talus and dirt near the top.

21605_05
Easy and obvious route up Wood.
21605_06
Junky near the top, but with a trail.

From Wood's summit I got an eyeful of what I had hoped would be my next peak, Point 13,688. The connecting ridge was less than desirable looking.

21605_07
Ridge to 13,688. Plenty of towers and the rock looks horrible.
21605_08
Ridge to "Animas Forks Mountain" (left) and Point 13,708.
21605_09
Cinnamon Pass with Point 13,535 and Cinnamon Pass on left and right, respectively.
21605_10
East towards the peaks I had done the previous day.

I descended the ridge west on what was not permanently junky rock. It was abundantly clear I wasn't going directly to 13,688.

21605_11
Yeah, no.

I went just a bit further west to a small saddle and began dropping north into Hurricane Basin. The rock here was steep and prone to causing small rockalanches, so caution was needed, but at least it wasn't as bad as the ridge would have been.

21605_12
Looking down from the ridge.
21605_13
Incredibly annoying.
21605_14
Boy howdy!

I had little trouble getting into the basin, but it was slow going, and I hoped this would be the worst of it for the day. Spoiler alert: this was the worst of it for the day. Once I was in the basin I began heading towards Gravel Mountain A's southwest slopes, which looked far more reasonable than attempting to gain the ridge somewhere past the difficulties, if such a thing were even possible.

21605_15
Allegedly there's a Class 3 route up to the ridge, but I suspect it's terrible and not worth the effort.
21605_16
Gravel's southwest slopes.
21605_17
Closer shot showing several of the trails crisscrossing Gravel.

The entirety of Hurricane Basin all the way to gravel was a mess of loose talus, and I was glad to soon be on grass. Sort of. The grass barely lasted a few minutes and then returned to steep, loose talus and scree. There were trail segments that took me up to Gravel's summit, at least, though even they were a bit unpleasant. Still, better than nothing!

21605_18
Looking back across Hurricane Basin with Wood on the left of the saddle.
21605_19
Slopes up Gravel.

Gravel was nonetheless easy, and I quickly huffed and puffed up the Class 2 slope to the summit. From Gravel I was happy to see that the north ridge of 13,688 would be a walk. The loss of elevation and trash rock I encountered was worth it to avoid the south ridge.

21605_20
13,688. The trail is visible just below the ridge.
21605_21
13,688. Nothing sketchy on this half of the peak.

The trail to 13,688 was very welcome, and better than those that had taken me up Gravel. Along the way a small outcrop blocked a direct path along the ridge, but this was easily bypassed on the left (east) on a Class 2 ledge.

21605_22
The ledge bypass around what might have been an easy scramble.
21605_23
Summit of 13,688.
21605_24
Ridge back to Wood.
21605_25
Gravel and the Cimarron. Gravel isn't quite as steep as it appears.

After a couple minutes on 13,688 I returned to Gravel. There was no easier way than back from where I came.

21605_26
Ledge system bypass on the way back.

Next up was Seigal Mountain, which was across Hurricane Basin. From Gravel's summit the easiest way up Seigal appeared to be to hike to Denver Pass, between Seigal and Point 13,708, then make another out-and-back to the former. I'd be making out-and-backs all day!

21605_27
Hurricane Basin with 13,708 on left and Seigal on the right. I could stay mostly on grass to Denver Pass (the yellow-ish saddle left of Seigal).

The scree ski down Gravel went quickly, and I was pleased to see a group of OHVers departing the mine ruins high in Hurricane Basin, leaving it all to me. The mine ruins were a bit out of my way so I didn't bother checking them out, instead continuing on to grass as quickly as I could.

21605_28
Siegal after crossing the road.

The terrain here was downright pleasant after spending a few hours on total garbage, and as I approached Denver Pass I made sure to milk it, sticking to grass all the way to the pass even if it was a bit farther, since it avoided talus closer to Seigal.

21605_29
Denver Pass and the oh-so-nice terrain en route.
21605_30
Getting closer. I climbed to the left (south) side of the pass to avoid the rock near the little nubbin just right of the pass.

From Denver Pass it was a quick Class 2 hike up Seigal.

21605_31
Seigal looking regal.
21605_32
Cimarron from Seigal, with the most prominent peaks being Darley Mountain, Wildhorse Peak, Coxcomb Peak, Wetterhorn Peak, and Uncompahgre Peak (left to right)
21605_33
Sneffels Range in the distance, Engineer Mountain A in center, and Darley Mountain on the right.
21605_34
Next two peaks to come: Point 13,708 and "Animas Forks Mountain". The lake has no name.

Seigal definitely had the best views of the day, and I thought would be the highlight of the hike. Little did I know that it wasn't actually the views that would be the best thing about the day. I drank in the Cimarron before continuing on to unranked Point 13,708, which was another easy Class 2 hike.

21605_35
Nothing to write home about.

Along the way the ridge over to "Animas Forks Mountain" kept me intrigued. Its sheer walls were impossible to ignore, and the flat top seemed deceiving. Just what was this ridge like?

21605_36
Hard? Easy? Knife edge? Catwalk? Super highway?

I continued to 13,708's summit since sidehilling across the steep, loose slopes to the ridge would probably take longer, and was faced with one of the most jawdropping ridges I've ever seen.

21605_37
What a ridge!

The Spanish word ánimas means soul or spirit, and this ridge has tons of both. It wasn't until I was on it that I could tell it was actually an easy crossing, though exposure on both sides of the ridge was severe.

21605_38
Skywalk of Souls.
21605_39
Color pops.

For most of the ridge it was just a walk, and near the middle the ridge twisted just enough that I had to drop down to the left onto a ledge at Class 2+. This was miraculously the only scrambling along the entire ridge. It continued shooting in a straight line towards the main bulk of the mountain.

21605_40
Short Class 2+ section down and across a narrow section of ridge.
21605_41
Nearing the upper mountain.
21605_42
Ridge finally widening

Once the ridge ended it was a rough Class 2+ scramble up shattered rock to a pitch of gray dirt, and finally to a dinner plate summit.

21605_43
Loose as a goose but not as steep as it looks.
21605_44
The exciting ridge leads to... this. Meh.
21605_45
Summit of "Animas Forks Mountain".

The ridge looked even wilder from the summit, as it was narrowest on the side closer to "Animas Forks Mountain". I knew there was another way off by descending the south ridge to the road, but I had enjoyed the ridge so much I wanted to cross it again, even if it took longer.

21605_46
Back towards 13,708.
21605_47
Cinnamon Pass, 13,535, and Cinnamon Mountain.
21605_48
Ridge between 13,708 (off frame to the left) and Wood Mountain A. The trail would make for an easy descent.

I wasted no time in returning to the glory. It went quickly. I thought about making a third trip across. Yeah, it's that cool.

21605_49
On the gray rock.
21605_50
Makes Mount Eolus look weak.
21605_51
So much spirit.
21605_52
Fire.
21605_53
Widening as it nears 13,708.
21605_54
This concludes your visit to the spirit world.

I re-ascended 13,708 as it would once again be easier descending the ridge proper towards Wood instead of sidehilling on the terrible rock of the area.

21605_55
Ridge to Wood, and perhaps the best profile of the nasty ridge to 13,688 (left). The trail down to easier ground is visible below Wood.

The ridge was simple Class 2, though of course the rock was loose. I can and probably should stop saying that by now. I continued almost to the saddle where I descended into Hurricane Basin, this time going south on soft yellow dirt.

21605_56
Trail just right of center.
21605_57
Kind of nice. Kind of not.
21605_58
Hard to see in the photo, but the trail cuts southeast from here.

Once on tundra I turned south and crossed Cinnamon Pass as fast as I could. It was a zoo. I can't stand the noise and dust. I headed towards a trail that cut up the steep talus slope northeast of Cinnamon Mountain.

21605_59
Another hard-to-see trail, but it makes this section far nicer.

From the top of the face I had to pick which peak to climb first, 13,535 or Cinnamon Mountain A. I chose the former since it was higher and farther away.

21605_61
13,535? (This isn't actually the summit.)
21605_60
Or Cinnamon?

13,535 proved to be quite easy, though I went a little out of my way heading to what seemed like the summit. Only when I reached the false summit did I realize I should have gone farther to my right. Instead I had to contour around a long summit ridge.

21605_62
False summit.
21605_63
Mixed terrain just below the false summit.
21605_64
The real summit's way around the bowl... Oops.
21605_65
Rolling green bumpies.

Views from 13,535 were spectacular, as expected. It is in the San Juan, after all.

21605_67
American Mountain, Jones Mountain A, Niagara Peak. Rio Grande Pyramid can be seen in the distance between American and Jones.
21605_68
Handies Peak looking rather blob-like.
21605_69
The false summit I originally went to, in red. "Animas Forks", 13,708, and Wood in the back, with Wetterhorn on the extreme right.

With just one peak left I contoured back along the ridge then followed my route back to the top of the trail above Cinnamon Pass. A more direct line to Cinnamon Mountain would have entailed additional loss and gain. From the trail it was another easy talus climb up Cinnamon with some trail segments thrown in.

21605_70
Cinnamon Mountain A.
21605_71
One of the short trail segments.
21605_72
Summit talus lump.
21605_73
"Animas Forks" trio once more.
21605_74
13,535, with the true summit barely poking out right of center.
21605_75
Cinnamon Pass.

With that it was all downhill. I started down and saw a couple people and their dog coming up. As we met I was greeted with "hey, you're Ben, aren't you?" "Yep, that's me. You must be Allie." (Of course, I had called Allie by the wrong name in reality - sorry, Allie! - but for purposes of the story let's just pretend I hadn't been a dummy.) It was Allie (14ers.com user 13erRetriever), her boyfriend Kyle, and the ever-adorable Harper! They had come up from Cinnamon Pass on a quick hike. We talked for a few minutes about my day and theirs, and they mentioned they had just moved to Ridgway. I was looking at real estate in Ridgway, and have since bought a house northwest of town, so it was great to meet some fellow locals and Harper.

21605_76
Allie, Harper, and myself. Photo: Allie S. Thanks, Allie!

They continued up while I continued down. Once back at the pass I ran the road back down to the van, then headed back to Lake City. Whiley was going to be running the High Five 100 ultramarathon over the weekend, so I stuck around and climbed a few smaller peaks in the area over the next few days. Aside from the section between Wood and Gravel this was a thoroughly enjoyable loop, and the north ridge of "Animas Forks Mountain" is amazing, a classic as far as I'm concerned. It's not hard in any way, but it is quite the strip of rock just hanging in the sky the way it does. If you're a wandering soul like I, make sure to visit and take a trip across this skywalk. It's full of spirit, and sure to rejuvenate your own.


Statistics

Climbers: Ben Feinstein (myself)
Trailhead: American Basin/Cinnamon Pass Junction

Total distance: 17.76 miles
Total elevation gain: 7,592 feet
Total time: 10:21:58
Peaks: Five ranked thirteeners, three unranked thirteeners (two were demoted by LiDAR post-climb)

  • Wood Mountain A, 13,660' (demoted by LiDAR)
  • Gravel Mountain A, 13,577' (unranked)
  • Point 13,688
  • Seigal Mountain, 13,274'
  • Point 13,708 (unranked)
  • "Animas Forks Mountain", 13,733
  • Point 13,535
  • Cinnamon Mountain A, 13,328' (demoted by LiDAR)

Splits:

Starting Location Ending Location Via Time (h:mm:ss) Cumulative Time (h:mm:ss) Rest Time (m:ss)
American Basin/Cinnamon Pass Junction Wood Mountain A 1:41:51 1:41:51 1:51
Wood Mountain A Gravel Mountain A 1:37:48 3:21:30 6:42
Gravel Mountain A Point 13,688 0:15:28 3:43:40 2:38
Point 13,688 Gravel Mountain A 0:16:35 4:02:53 0:00
Gravel Mountain A Seigal Mountain 1:17:59 5:20:52 3:35
Seigal Mountain Point 13,708 0:41:51 6:06:19 0:00
Point 13,708 "Animas Forks Mountain" 0:28:51 6:35:10 2:47
"Animas Forks Mountain" Point 13,708 0:27:51 07:05:48 0:00
Point 13,708 Cinnamon Pass 0:52:18 7:58:06 0:00
Cinnamon Pass Point 13,535 0:54:02 8:52:07 2:41
Point 13,535 Cinnamon Mountain A 0:38:18 9:33:06 2:38
Cinnamon Mountain A American Basin/Cinnamon Pass Junction 0:46:15 10:21:58 Trip End

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




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 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76


Comments or Questions
Mtnman200
User
Wait a minute!
06/16/2022 07:51
You missed out on the fun of finding a route directly up to the Wood - 13688 ridge. It's not like the rock is sketchy. Oh wait, yes it is.


supranihilest
User
Sketchy
06/16/2022 11:08
Eddie, you're really selling it. Sketchy rock? No extra padding of the stats and no extra checklist ticks by going over Gravel? Sounds like a great option!


13erRetriever
User
Serendipity
06/16/2022 14:27
It was great running into you Ben! Hope to see you around Ridgway one of these days!


greenonion
User
That is...
06/16/2022 15:28
...a really cool ridge. Thanks for sharing, Ben!


Mtnman200
User
Just yanking your chain
06/16/2022 16:47
because I know from first-hand experience the rock quality in the gully to the Wood - 13688 ridge. It's doable but requires careful movements to avoid dislodging rocks.


supranihilest
User
Ive got a ridge to sell ya
06/16/2022 16:55
@Allie: You too, sorry I haven't yet been able to hang out, I've been doing a lot to get ready for 13er season this year. Once things slow down again though, I hope to see you!

@Stu: You're welcome! One of the coolest ridges I've walked across for sure. I read Furthermore's TR on Animas Forks and he did it covered in snow. The man's a maniac!

@Eddie: Oh I know, I'm just ribbin' ya back. Cool photos in your TR, minus the climb up 13,688's ridge - still looks like hell to me and makes me glad I went over Gravel.


yaktoleft13
User
Damn!
06/17/2022 11:22
That has got to be the coolest non-technical ridge I've ever seen. Gotta put it on the list


supranihilest
User
Do et
06/17/2022 12:07
Eric, it's super awesome, easy or not! It'd be a good one to do on your way in or out of the SJ, assuming you can drive to Cinnamon Pass. It's probably doable in like two hours round trip!


Marmot72
User
cool trip
06/20/2022 13:11
That's a stout day. I think the route works better in reverse, simply because getting to Woods from 688 is easier/more enjoyable from that direction. Hurricane Basin is a sweet little spot and I enjoyed checking out the mining relics preserved in the old building there. But I totally missed your skywalk, instead descending the fairly solid stair-step off to the west of Animas to get to the lake and then the trail up to Siegal. So now I wish I had done that ridge.



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