Peak(s):  San Luis Peak  -  14,023 feet
Date Posted:  05/30/2022
Date Climbed:   11/27/2021
Author:  MaryinColorado
Additional Members:   RyGuy
 Gentle San Luis   

San Luis Peak - 14,014'

Total miles = 13.3
Total elevation gain = 3,563'
Total time = 8 hours, 17 minutes (booking it on the return trip)

Elevation gain splits (roughly):
Mile 1 = 180'
Mile 2 = 299'
Mile 3 = 361'
Mile 4 = 433'
Mile 5 = 554'
Mile 6 to summit = 1,709'

I would agree that San Luis is gentle, overall, but that the last mile or so really makes up for the other gentleness. I would also agree that San Luis is stunning in its remoteness and wildness, a real treat of a 14er.

The Wake-up Call
It's remarkable that we were even able to do the standard approach in late November, but it had been an unusually dry November. Given that it was pretty cold, though, we decided instead of camping to stay in Gunnison for the night at a motel and drive out to the trailhead super early. One of us potentially sometimes gets overly excited about waking up at ungodly hours for peaks...

I mean, come on; it's peak day!! Sleep is for tomorrow!

Getting to the Trailhead

It is probably unusual that we were able to make it all the way to the standard trailhead at this time of year, so I wouldn't count on that always being the case. RyGuy pointed out a particular spot where a gnarly ice flow normally forms across the road, and it was essentially non-existent.

As we got closer to the trailhead, we were greeted by the well-known mooses of the area. (That prompted me to think about the likelihood of bumping into one on the trail and rehearsing in my head how I should react.)

The drive in was shockingly manageable. Again, shockingly dry November.
Moose friends!

The Hike

The trail had just enough snow patches that it wasn't a total dry blitzing, blazing up the trail, but it wasn't snow of consequence or even of annoyance, really.

Finally out of the trees!

We were scooting along at a pretty decent pace, and upon emerging from the trees we realized the time of non-annoying-snow may come to an end soon, but overall it didn't look like too bad of an endeavor. Indeed, we ended up in some deep post-holey drifts as soon as our trajectory turned upward. To that end, in certain sections before the ridge, we chose some more direct uphilling across snow vs. trying to follow where the standard route normally should/would be.

Just deep enough to be kind of annoying. Rocks were helpful.
The man, the myth, the RyGuy
Working our way up to the ridge and now back on a section of the standard route

Once the ridge was gained, the real effort started as far as uphilling goes, but it really wasn't that bad although the snow was not always forgiving or hard and crusty as one would hope.


As we approached the summit, I started letting out audible grunts and words of frustration because, unbeknownst to me at the time, I had a condition that was affecting my muscular strength. I thought the last 500 feet of simple little San Luis was going to do me in! Upon hitting the summit, I was suddenly wrecked with embarrassment. "People???" A family had come up the other route. I mentally face-palmed and apologized for my noise. ("That was me, not a constipated moose...")

Summit's not too far off
Just riding the struggle bus to the summit at this point ;-)

Summit was absolutely stunning. Loved the great snowy views and the likes of Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, Uncompahgre, and Co. We stayed on summit for a fair bit of time because it was such a nice day, albeit it was decently cold. I laid down for a few minutes to just soak up the sun and the fresh air.

Looking over toward 13er Organ which I will have to come back for via the other route rather than doing the traverse from San Luis (although it looks like that could be a bit of spicy fun)
Hello, other 14ers!

The trek back to the car was delightful and speedy; I was hauling at 3 - 4 mph at times with a personal goal of getting back to the car before darkness could descend. Success! And the reward on the drive out of the area was an absolutely stunning sunset that seemed to last forever in the ways that it changed and morphed.

One of a million pictures I took of the sunset

Final Thoughts
Super delightful peak! Highly recommend for beginner 14er hikers who are looking for a gentle introduction into higher mileage as well as a more unique setting vs. the Sawatch, for example. The mileage makes it a full day, but the effort is very reasonable. I admit, the return trek got a little tedious after a while and gave me a lot of appreciation for how long four uninteresting miles through a valley can feel; however, the wildness of it definitely makes it special.

To that end, one thing stands out about this day: there was nothing overly remarkable about it which is why this is a boring trip report. :-) There were no hiccups, no incidents, no regrettable terrain, no shockingly awesome (or terrifying) weather events, and honestly even the mountain views are so far off in the distance, I think it could be argued that one doesn't necessarily hike San Luis for the views. BUT - it was really as perfect a day on a peak as can be. While that doesn't make for a very interesting story, perhaps, it's certainly the type of day I am always happy to repeat.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14

Comments or Questions
San Luis is San Luis
05/30/2022 21:08
Love that smile in the morning... same for me ( I get super excited when I am about to hike a peak). I will always remember hiking San Luis because I spotted on my way down by the ridge 2 very small baby mountain goats tucked away from their parents and looking at me (probably thinking "she does not look like us... what is that?")... and it was precious.It was a good hike and I also ran@ the summit into a guy who had climbed it from the Creede side... Beautiful report, Mary!. Teresa

05/31/2022 17:01
report, with great photographs.
i really enjoyed how remote that mountain is.

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