Windom Peak

  • Windom Peak
  • 4292 m.
  • Primary factor 312 m.
  • 33rd in Colorado
  • Location: North 37:37.283, West 107:35.483
  • Climbed July 10, 2001


How to get there: We travelled to this peak (as well as Sunlight Peak and Mount Eolus) from Needleton. Needleton can be reached with the Durango to Silverton railroad. There is no road. This railroad is operated by old fashioned steam locomotives only. The trains depart four times (in the morning) from Durango, while there are four afternoon departures in the opposite direction from Silverton. What seemed to work best for us was the first train leaving at 0730 from Durango, arriving around 1000 in Needleton. We took the 1630 train from Needleton back to Durango, arriving there around 1900. The fare is dollar 60.- roundtrip for adults, half price for children under 12. There was no need to make advance reservations, we purchased the tickets the day before our departure. The trip is quite nice, the track runs along the Animas River, partly in a narrow gorge.
Route description:
First, from Needleton to Chicago Basin:

Immediately after getting off the train, one crosses the Animas River on a good foot bridge. The trail then runs south (right) for a little less than 1 km to the point where the trail along the Needle Creek heads east up the valley. There is a trail register near this point. The trail climbs gently as it stays north of the creek. This trail is about 10 km long. As it approaches Chicago Basin, there is a smaller (less heavily used) trail that crosses the creek and heads for Columbine Pass. Do not take this trail, but continue straight. A bit further along the trail forks, there is a cairn at this point. The right fork leads to a good (and popular) area for camping a short distance further, while the left fork of the trail starts the climb towards Twin Lakes. After the first hill this (latter) trail reaches a somewhat more level area, this is the highest possible campsite. There is a sign next to the trail at this point saying that camping is not permitted higher up, including anywhere in the Twin Lakes basin. We established our BC in this area, as high as possible given these regulations.

Second, from Base Camp in Chicago Basin to Windom Peak:

We did this climb after Sunlight Peak, see this entry for the first part of the route. From Sunlight Peak, we crossed the basin going only slightly down (in the direction of Twin Lakes) in order to get up on a field of rocks, thus avoiding the snow. We followed the rocks up the slope and found the trail (from Twin Lakes) about halfway up. This trail climbed the saddle and continued among larger boulders up the ridge of Windom Peak. Some easy class 2+ scrambling is required. One should note that the trail ascends to the second saddle between Peak 18 and Windom (the one closer to Windom), that is, the route does not climb the more distinct (and lower) saddle closest to Peak 18.
Comments: I did this climb with Pål Jørgen, 12 years. We climbed this peak after descending from Sunlight Peak. The summit is quite well defined also on this peak, but easily reached. We noted that the USGS marker giving the elevation was located more than one meter below the actual summit. It also gave an elevation that is one foot (about 0.3 meter) higher than the officially recognized elevation. We wondered somewhat if the elevation stated on the marker is supposed to be the actual elevation of the marker itself or not. The fourteeners are so close in elevation that such a small change would change the relative ranking significantly.