New for the fall of 2011 is our 4 Day Desert Climbing Seminar. The seminar adds 2 days to our popular 2 Day Indian Creek Crack Climbing Course and expands on a number of topics including anchoring, protection placement, lead climbing, multi-pitch strategies, self rescue, and other valuable skills that will help you to progress your climbing.
The 4 Day Seminar is scheduled to run Saturday – Tuesday on select weekends in October and November to help us avoid the crowds on popular climbs such as Castleton Tower and other area classics. Days 1 & 2 of the program are spent at Indian Creek, and then days 3 & 4 are spent in the Moab/Castle Valley area.
Join us this fall in perhaps the world’s best cragging destination and find out why climber’s from around the globe make the pilgrimage to Indian Creek and Moab to experience the fantastic climbing, scenery, and camping of the Utah Desert!
The name of the trip claims a lot, but it’s truly nothing less then spectacular!
- Columbine Flowers
We started off in Durango on the 150-year-old narrow gauge railroad. The train stops at Elk Park in the heart of the mountains where we began the 5-day hike. The first night was spent near “the beaver ponds” where we were greeted by a mother moose and her calf.
- The Beaver Pond with Vestal and Arrow in the background.
The next day we hiked up and over the Continental Divide to Kite Lake, hard to beat the views especially with the wild flowers going off as they were.
- Morning dew on a spider web.
Day three took us up and over Hunchback Pass and down the Vallecito drainage, to the base of Johnson Creek.
Day four put us in Chicago Basin after hiking up and over Columbine Pass. We were not in the Basin for more then 20 minutes before the mountain goats were coming to check us out.
On the last day we decided to pass on climbing a peak and just head down toward Needleton where the train would pick us up and deliver us back to Durango.
Day 1: We started out the trip climbing at X-Rock, where we learned Belaying, Rapelling, Climbing Technique, and Anchor Systems. In the afternoon we made a meal plan for the rest of the trip and went food shopping.
Day 2: We got up early and drove North to Andrews Lake which was our launching point for Snowdon Peak. Perfect weather and a fun group of guys made for a great summit! After descending we hiked back to the car and drove to the Purgatory Flats Trail head and hiked down to the Animas river to camp.
Day 3: The goal was to hike into Noname Basin but while crossing Noname Creek Jason slipped and whacked his ankle on a rock. Between that and the pouring rain we decided to sleep for the night at the mouth of Noname near the Animas.
Day 4: Finished hiking into Noname basin and camped next to the old Miners cabin. Amazingly we got a fire going despite all the rain we had had.
Day 5: Jasons heel was still not 100% so Vincent and I climbed a peak North of the cabin called Heisspitz. Which apparently means something like “Hot Peak” in German. Vincent worked on his short roping skills and his kiwi coil on the way to the top.
Day 6: Jason and I got up early again and climbed Knife point, returned to camp and hiked with Jason into the beautiful Ruby creek.
Day 7: All of us got up early and climbed up to the Saddle between Turret and Pigeon. Jason was not feeling very good so he headed back to camp while Vincent and I climbed the two peaks. We then returned to camp packed up and hiked back down to the Animas to get a jump on the next day.
Day 8: We finished the hike out to the Purgatory Flats Trail Head and drove back to Durango. Finishing off a great tour of the Weminuche and a great trip!
Father and son duo Tom and Morgan came out from North Carolina this mid July to test their knowledge against, and learn more in, Colorado’s San Juan Mountains. We began with rock climbing at one of our local Durango crags; X Rock. Here we covered anchors, belaying, knots, safe climbing skills and a handful of other rope work tricks and tips. Day 2 we utilized everything covered on Day 1, as well as added multi pitch climbing, building more natural anchors, and more efficient climbing technique. Now that our arms were sufficiently tired, Day 3 brought on the leg workout. We planned on climbing Snowdon Peak’s, 13,077, West Buttress. However around 12,650 feet, the weather gods decided otherwise. Thunder turned us around, but this change in events allowed us to cover more efficient alpine climbing skills that Tom and Morgan could take with them on other climbs in the future.
The next three day leg of the course were spent in Vestal Basin. Here we climbed Arrow Peak’s, 13,803, Northeast ramp. We snuck this climb in between rain drops as it rained all the previously night and began again around 11:30 AM. Luckily, with such a highly spirited couple of climbers, morals were never threatened. We played Rummy for hours, practised rope work during lulls in the rain and had fun watching the mountain goats in our camp. The Durango – Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad brought us back to Durango where we added crampons and ice axes to our assortment of gear.
Day 7 we hiked into the breath-taking Ice Lakes Basin. We set up camp at 12,240 feet on the shores of the blue-green Ice Lake and relaxed. Later that afternoon we covered how to walk in crampons, including the important rest step. Next, we slid on the snow and ice practising ice axe arresting. Tom and Morgan did awesome, perfecting all four body positions. Morgan couldn’t stop smiling!
The next morning Morgan and I climbed Fuller Peak, 13,761, Vermillion Peak, 13,894, and Golden Horn, 13,780. This cirque is a great place to practise snow skills and get the chance to ridge-run from summit to summit. That afternoon we hiked back to the car and had lunch in Ouray. The last day we had a “check out day” as we called it. This settled any unsure thoughts Tom and Morgan had about anchors and climbing. Now they were able to climb safely on their own back at home. Good work in Colorado and enjoy your new skills back East.
Durango locals, Alice and her son Paul S. along with Sean E. linked up with myself and fellow guide Ryan to hike into Vestal Basin for some peak climbing and relaxation. Paul and I climbed Vestal Peak, 13,864, via its North Face dubbed ‘The Wham Ridge.” The route maxes out its difficulty at 5.4 and is mostly 4th class to 5.0 climbing with breath-taking exposure. All on great quality rock! We made excellent time from camp to summit in 4 hours. The weather was absolutely magnificent and we spent almost an hour on the summit. Following our descent we met up with Alice and Sean at Vestal Lake for a refreshing dip in the lake. We decided it was the long lost “fountain of youth” as Sean and I felt like young boys again. We spent an hour or two here eating lunch and enjoying the amazing views.
The next day Paul and I again left camp early and cruised up Arrow Peak’s, 13,803, Northeast ramp. Again, the weather cooperated well and we had a leisurely descent enjoying the fact that we were first on the summit that day. After snacking and taking a nap, we packed up camp and moved it to the Animas River at 8,800 feet. Here were made a great camp along the railroad tracks and again swam in the refreshing Animas River. The next day we loaded up our gear on the train and took it to Silverton. Ryan had been talking about the BBQ beef sandwich at The Handlebar restaurant for the previous 3 days, and it worked, all 5 of us ordered it; it was AWESOME!
With such amazing weather and sociable people, this trip couldn’t have gone better. Successful peak climbs, lots of laughs, too many brain melting riddles and cold, cold water swimming. Thanks for a great time and hope to climb Sunlight Spire with you soon Paul!
Becky and Dan came out from Missouri last week to join us for our ‘Best of The Weminuche’ backpacking trip. This trip takes on almost 30 miles of trail with 7200 feet of elevation gain and 7600 feet of elevation loss over 5 days. Overall the weather treated us very well with the rain usually holding off until we were in the comfort and safety of our tents and sleeping bags each night. For wildlife along the trail, we saw deer on a regular occasion, caught a glimpse of an adult mother moose and her young calf, a plethora of mountain goats and lots of other hikers. The wildflowers were in the peak of their blooming and added lots of color to our photos. Becky and Dan hiked at a relatively brisk pace and forced me to hike until 5 PM at knife point each day! With making such great mileage each day we covered the entire in trip in just 4 days. Excellent work you two and see you next summer for some peaks.
(and yes, it was at least a dull knife…)