Sunday, October 18, 2009
San Luis Peak - 14,014
The Southwest Face of San Luis Peak and the Yawner Gullies - September 13, 2008
They call San Luis Peak the 'shy fourteener' for good reason. Only from certain anlges can it be seen at all, there just a few miles up the Willow Creek drainage outside Creede, Colorado. It took Jake Hunner to call it out of hiding.
Jake is a man who likes to come prepared. From the cooler full of beer for the end of the day to his massive Army surplus mummy bag to the sack of flour tortillas he produced on the summit, I can safely say that if I had carried half of what he brought along I never would have made it to the top. Jake was in his final semester in the Mechanical Engineering Department at UNM where I work. For him I expect San Luis was a welcome break from studying. For me it was my first chance to have a partner on a 14er since Crestone Needle with Jay Evans. We motored up past the Equity Mine trailhead late one night in mid-September 2008, two weeks after my bike ride up Bross and Lincoln, in the darkness driving right past the trailhead. After attempting to navigate a steep rubbly hill in my 2-wheel-drive Ranger, and finding this was not possible, we camped where we parked which happened to be right at the trailhead.
The breezy night gave way to a brisk dawn. Another vehicle pulling in woke us up, their clamor and headlamps forbidding any further sleep so we were up and on the trail behind them right at 6 AM. We wore every piece of warm clothing we'd brought following the trail that crossed the wide basin of Willow Creek before heading up to a saddle at 12,300 feet, from where we had our first view of San Luis to the east.
Jake and San Luis Peak from near the first saddle.
A drop-down of several hundred feet is unavoidable here, leading to a contouring traverse through two basins before attaining the South Ridge of San Luis. It was quite populated by now. The ridge climb seemed endless with one false summit after another.
Jake on the South Ridge of San Luis.
But the summit was well worth it. A leisurely lunch was eaten at midday in the company of perhaps a dozen other climbers, one of whom was kind enough to take our picture.
Jake and me on the summit.
On the hike out Jake shot out ahead while I gingerly picked along with my damaged feet and knees. The beers back at the truck gave me the hiccups, but a cup of coffee in Creede made for a welcome end to the trip before heading back to Albuquerque that night.