This set of photos spans the course of the first three days of our weeklong winter expedition to Chicago Basin over the
On day one we rode the Durango & Silverton Narrow
Gauge Railway 23 miles from Durango to Cascade and then continued up
the Animas River for about
seven more miles on foot. After turning the corner to Needle Creek
around sunset, we managed to haul our 50ish+ pound burdens another mile
or so before stomping out a platform and setting
up camp mid trail.
On day two we labored the remaining 6 miles up Needle Creek to our base camp in Chicago Basin,
set up camp and rested our aching bodies, and then spent twilight on a minor trenching and recon mission.
On day three we climbed Sunlight & Windom Peaks!
T minus one hour at the D&SNG station in Durango.
Dom & I ready for takeoff! Photo by Greg.
Looking down to the Animas River as we chug toward Cascade.
The standard steam show for the tourists.
Makings for a Christmas miracle?
Decision point: we'll follow the trail, not the tracks on the opposite side of the river.
Much suffering later... Chicago Basin!
As the sun drops behind Aztec Mountain we depart camp for a short trenching and recon mission.
Upper Chicago Basin.
Sunset on Peak Eighteen (left) & Jupiter Mountain (right).
Sunlight Peak (left) & Peak Eighteen (right) dominate the scene as when we breach Twin Lakes Basin.
Twin Lakes are frozen over and well buried.
Huge cairn and Windom Peak as we hike up the basin between Sunlight & Windom.
Sunlight Peak invites us to join him in his basking in the early morning sun. Who could resist?
Starting up Sunlight's south slopes.
As we near the notch in the southeast ridge the trailbreaking is quite stenuous.
Looking down Sunlight's initial snow slopes. Photo by Dom.
Dwight making his way up our track.
Rock fosters hopes of easier going in the near future.
Dom takes a breather and rehydrates after a solid wallow session.
Fighting through loose snow.
Greg carries the torch toward the ridge, connecting the now more frequent rock islands as much as possible.
Just before the ridge we begin traversing west across Sunlight's south face.
Greg & I on the long traverse. Photo by Dom.
Snowshoes on rock isn't much fun but areas of deep powder suggest they're best left on our feet.
The notch on Sunlight's southeast ridge.
Stately Windom looks on and patiently awaits his turn.
Stately Windom looks on and patiently awaits his turn.
Fierce Eolus torments us from a distance. That's the Wilson Group in the distance.
Snowshoes still on at approximately 13,800 feet.
Sunlight Spire & Windom Peak.
Nearing the end of our long traverse across the south face.
Greg & I about to turn the corner and climb toward the summit ridge. Photo by Dom.
Greg wallowing up a near impossible wall of loose snow.
Dominic opts for the windblown edge to climbers left and ditches his snowshoes in the process.
Greg making some tricky 4th class moves in snowshoes. The time has finally come to ditch these beasts.
Dominic & Dwight nearing the start of the rock difficulties.
Dominic thrashing his way up a nifty chimney.
Life doesn't get much better than this.
Dom leads us on a fun scramble.
Greg gettin' it done in his fancy boots.
Looking down Sunlight's southeast ridge at Sunlight Spire & Windom Peak.
Slabby granite leads to a cairn.
Dwight on the rocky upper part of Sunlight's south face.
On the summit ridge with summit in sight!
A short traverse west leads us to easier terrain below the summit.
On the final traverse below the summit.
We follow a cairned route upward.
Large, rounded, granite blocks confirm we are nearing the top of Sunlight Peak.
Greg looking down at me as I climb up the rabbit hole.
Dominic coming up the rabbit hole, which today is quite the conduit for wind and spindrift.
Dominic leads the way to the famous summit difficulties.
Dom and Greg race for the summit.
Dwight strikes a victory pose on top.
Beginning the descent to a more sheltered break spot. Photo by Dom.
Reversing the final summit ridge.
View of Sunlight Spire and Windom Peak from our break spot.
My world class crew: D-Dawg, Summit Lounger & The Dominator.
Dominic leads the reversal of our track below the ridge.
We pass by a window in the ridge but nobody chooses to make the effort to wallow over and peer through it.
You take the high road and we'll take the low road.
Nearing the point at which we got back in the snowshoes.
Dominic heads for the notch in the southeast ridge. Our track is visible below it.
The notch and Sunlight Spire on the opposite side.
Looking down Windom's west ridge at mighty Elous.
Sunlight's south face as seen from Windom's west ridge.
Greg leads the easy scramble up Windom.
The ridge amps up a bit near the top.
Downclimbing to a small notch in the ridge.
Climbing out the other side of the notch.
Dominic near the notch.
The ridge is a little narrow in places but a walk in the park compared to neighboring Sunlight.
Greg happy to be nearing our second summit for the day.
Dominic dances up the ridge with Chicago Basin the background.
As we near the top the terrain becomes more interesting yet remains easy.
Our legs are tired but we plod higher with the end in sight.
Greg & I nearing the summit. Photo by Dom.
Greg heading for the summit block.
We sneak around some boulders in deep snow to access the summit block.
Dominic at the top of Windom's west ridge.
Greg strolls to the summit.
Dom & I on the summit. Photo by Greg.
Eolus: tomorrow's task. That northeast ridge doesn't exactly look inviting!
Dominic leads the retreat.
Sunlight & Sunlight Spire as seen from Windom.
Descending toward Twin Lakes.
Heading home for the night. Photo by Dom.
Twin Thumbs, Peak Eleven & Needle Ridge.
Goodbye Twin Lakes Basin.
One last view to feed my nightmares tonight.
Twin Thumbs & Peak Eleven.
Needle Ridge above Twin Lakes.
Camp below a spectacular sunset.