Grenadier Range, San Juan Mtns. Weminuche Wilderness, CO June 27-30, 2007 Retro

John Morrow

May 22, 2015
Stuck home, thought I'd toss up something from the past. Hiking forums in the time of Covid. Couple years back these photos were stuck in an inaccessible computer hard drive. Finally ordered an enclosure to put it into to pull out these pics. Artemus had asked me to post this then when I couldn't reach 'em.

These mountains were awesome and this trip complimented a great Bluegrass Festival perfectly.

On the 27th we descended the Colorado Trail from Molas Pass on US 550 down to the Animas River. Met the famous Durango and Silverton steam train by chance. Cool experience.
There must have been a trail bridge over the river but I don't remember. Couple more miles and a side trail (not official) went off to the right (south) crossing Elk Creek and rising into an amazing high basin, perhaps called "Vestal Basin" (no map name).

Dropping to Animas River
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Passing train in the river corridor
by John Morrow, on Flickr

First look at Grenadiers!
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Entering the meadow country
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Vestal and Arrow from camp
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Sunset on the Trinities
by John Morrow, on Flickr

June 28: If my friend Justin doesn't look right, it is because he is incredibly sick with a fever. Had to have been the first known case of Covid 19. Our plan was a couple of climbs on the two well known north faces: Wham Ridge of Vestal and north ridge of Arrow. However, Justin opted to remain in the tent to try to get well. Carried the climbing gear a long way for nothing! I opted to do the scramble routes on those mountains instead.

First up was the giant ramp of Arrow Peak 13,803'. Wonderful Class 3 scramble on solid quartzite.

Up the ramp of Arrow Peak
by John Morrow, on Flickr

The famous ramp
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Arrow scramble
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Then down, up through Vestal/Arrow saddle, and around to the south slope of Vestal Peak 13,864':

Final Vestal scramble
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Altitude tired! on Vestal
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Trinities for tomorrow
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Outside of times on Mt Rainier, this was the highest I'd ever been, so I was feeling it!

June 29th: I felt horrible for Justin, and if we weren't in a position to do the climb(s), then a great scramble traverse of the 3 Trinity Peaks would at least get him a chance to get up high in this beautiful place.

1st up was the West Ridge of West Trinity Peak 13,765 and down its East Ridge.

Vestal and Arrow morning
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Scramble on West Trinity
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Towards Middle Trinity
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Vestal and Arrow behind
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Then we traversed all the way around the south side of Middle Trinity 13,805' on ledges and up to the Middle/East Trinity saddle for the final scramble from the saddle.

Up to East Ridge of Middle Trinity
by John Morrow, on Flickr

West Ridge of East trinity across
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Returning to the saddle we then scrambled up the West Ridge of East Trinity 13,745'. Descending its east ridge/slope back into the head of Vestal Basin completed the traverse!

Onto East Trinity from Middle saddle
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Almost done climbing
by John Morrow, on Flickr

by John Morrow, on Flickr

View toward Chicago Basin far
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Across at East Ridge Mid Trinity
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Only bad section on final descent
by John Morrow, on Flickr

by John Morrow, on Flickr

June 30th:

It was time to hike back to Molas Pass. What an awesome trip in a great mountain range! Thirteen years older now, ten pounds heavier, and hair cut high and tight (not always, jsut when I finally get around to cutting it). Justin hasn't aged a day.

Last look back
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Back to the river
by John Morrow, on Flickr

Full set of pics (grand country views) here:

Anyone else have some archival trip reports to share for our virtual hiking pleasure?????
Amazing report, John. Loved all the shots of the steep faces of the mountains. This gave me a nice escape from being relatively shut in right now.

Love the photo of the train coming through.
Fun trip! Sadly, I've never gotten around to doing Wham Ridge.

From what I saw (remember) looking from above and below, @fossana, you would likely be fine leaving the gear home and doing it solo. Not me, though!

From the top looking down on the steep top part of Wham Ridge:

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Reactions: Ben
Nice . I haven't been to the Grenadiers since 1981. Lots of good stuff there. Here is a moldy oldie from back then.PICT0002 (2).JPG
Spectacular, thanks for posting. This is one of the areas I was (am) hoping to visit this summer if the coronavirus lets me. My tentative trip plan has us following your route into Vestal Basin and then heading either south over the pass between Vestal and Trinity (preferred) or east over the pass toward Trinity Lake (option B) and then south toward Leviathan Lake and Sunlight Lake before dropping down to hook up with the Vallecito trail and looping back on the CDT.

Based upon imagery and other trip reports I have read, both pass options look doable, if a bit sketchy. Does anyone have any guidance on which is the better option, and whether this route is advisable for a small group of middle-aged, reasonably fit backpackers who are comfortable and experienced with off-trail travel?
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