San Luis Peak
UN 13,180 is a "soft-rank" summit located on the ridge that connects UN 13,300 with UN 13,155, SW of the 14er, San Luis Peak. Approached from UN 13,300, this involves a 3rd class climb section. Approached from UN 13,155, it's just a Class 2 walk. We have sequenced this summit with the other two for a moderately long day. The trailhead is the West Willow Creek TH, accessible by 4WD or higher clearance vehicles. Passenger cars can park at the Equity Mine area and hike from there adding about 2.5 miles round-trip.
UN 13,180 WSW Ridge Route
From the town of Creede and CO149, where the highway crosses the main stream in town, (Willow Creek) turn north and follow the Main St. north through the heart of town. Locate the Rio Grande Field Service Office on the right hand side of the street and measure from there. Continue north through town and begin the steep climb up the narrow canyon on a graded, gravel road. Beyond the town, this road becomes CR503. From the end of the pavement, we measured 6.7 miles to the Equity Mine, which is where the 2WD road terminates, or 7.2 from the Rio Grande Field Office. When the road forks at 1.2 miles, stay left to continue on CR503. At 5.0 miles, CR504 turns off to the left. Remain on CR503 to reach the parking area just outside the Equity Mine.
For those with 4WD and good clearance, FR503 continues north, veering off the County Road just shortly before the Equity Mine parking. The road climbs rather steeply at first, then progresses up valley and then drops back down some to cross West Willow Creek to the east side in about .6 mile from the turnoff just before the Equity Mine. The road continues north through open terrain and at 1.25 mile from the Equity Mine turnoff, it drops to the creek and crosses back over to the west bank. In 2019, we found the road blocked by the Forest Service at this crossing because of some serious road degradation further up and so we had to start walking from here, however, the local district office indicated this closure was expected to be temporary. If the road is open, drive another .6 mile to a place where the road turns sharply uphill. There is some limited parking here for just a few vehicles. Most stock SUV's should be able to drive to this point. The trail for San Luis Pass and the trail that splits off for San Luis Peak, over six miles away, heads north from this point. This makes a good location to begin hikes for the various 13ers located around this drainage, on either side. There is not any good camping at this site though. If your vehicle can make it, continue on up the short stretch of steep gain on the road and there is a large, flatter, open area where it's possible to camp, but no trees close by. Overall, the road to the trailhead and coordinates provided was not all that bad in 2019.
There are very limited, good camping opportunities along the West Willow Creek Road. A section of the road passes through privately owned land prior to reaching the Equity Mine. This property is fenced. Where FR504 turns off, there may be some camping possibility there, but you're right on the private property boundary from what we could tell. The best campsite we saw was 6.2 miles from the Field Office, or about one mile before reaching the Equity Mine. On the 4WD section of road, there were no primitive sites and only a couple spots that were level enough to provide a reasonable "car-camp" for the night. One was just after the first creek crossing, the other is just before the second creek crossing.
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From the West Willow Creek TH, walk up the trail that leads to San Luis Pass. It starts out on the west side of the creek and after a short distance, crosses over to the east side to join what the survey map calls “The Creede Pack Trail.” Instead of following this trail farther north, turn off onto another track that heads northeast up the tundra and grass covered slope. It crosses a pass at 12,300 ft. and joins the “Skyline Trail” on the other side which is now part of the Colorado Trail. The trail becomes obscure in the willows near the top, but the other trail can be easily spotted. Well before getting as high as that pass though, we turned east and dropped into the gully a little, then crossed back uphill, worked our way easily through some more willows and then began following an open tundra-covered slope all the way up to the false summit that lies northwest of UN 13,300. This summit shows as 13,080 ft. or more. Obtaining it was an easy walk-up. From here, there is no problem in walking over and up to the main summit. Follow the ridge southeast which drops less than 200 feet. Along this ridge, the north facing side drops away precipitously on gargantuan slabs of sheered rock. You may want to pause and attempt some photos of the impressive sight. Then, continue on to the huge, flat summit of UN 13,300.
There is some confusion regarding this summit. The survey maps provides an elevation of 13,285 ft. The revised G&M also list it as being this elevation and rank it as #409. However, on Gerry Roach’s site, http://www.climb.mountains.com/Project_Island_files/CO_13ers.shtml the peak is considered to be Pt.13,300 A with a new ranking of #395 and on Lists of John the peak is listed as 13,300 ft. with a ranking of #395. Why the discrepancy? Well all one has to do is climb the peak and you’ll see. As the flat summit gives way to the connecting northeast ridge, there are some rocky outcrops that are evidently higher than the flat summit area. All one has to do is stand on the highest rocky outcrop and the problem becomes very evident. The survey map is incorrectly drawn. As noted on Lists of John, the rocky northeast end is 15 – 20ft. higher. So Kirk & Roach have determined to grant a higher ranking to this otherwise, undistinguished peak. To make sure we had indeed climbed this little 13er, we ventured out along the rocky crest and stood upon what we deemed to be the highest point. We walked across the entire, flat summit area to get there passing through tundra meadows full of Old-Man-on-the-Mountain with their sunny faces turned toward the east sun.
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Year Climbed: 2010
Soft-ranked UN 13,180 is sequenced with UN 13,300 and followed by UN 13,155. One-way mileage and elevation gain are measured from the summit of UN 13,300. Round-trip mileage and elevation gain assume completion of the sequence. We should also point out that while the approach route we offer here from UN 13,300 is rated a Class 3+, the hike to this summit from the NE and Pt. 12,935 is only an simple Class 2.
From the highest point on UN 13,300, head out a short distance on the narrowing ridge and locate a steep way to descend southeast into the basin below of Whited Creek. This is to avoid a traverse above on the connecting ridge line, which appeared to us to present several difficulties, however, the route we chose as an alternative, may not have proven to be much better. The descent is steep and difficult. About 250 feet down or sooner, stop to chart a route to get you up and over to UN13,180, the soft-rank summit on the ridge that leads over to your second objective for the day – UN13,155. We chose to follow a line of cracks and great blocks of rock that eventually led us to a crack through some great boulders and came out just east of the 13,180 summit. The 250 foot ascent back up was actually kind of fun. It involved some higher 3rd class scrambling on fairly secure, granite-type rock. Near the top, we came to a place where we thought we were going to be stopped from further progress, only to find a route by squeezing through a crack and then clambering up and out onto the easy final section to the summit of this little peak. You may want to take a few photos of this more technical section.
Links to other information, routes & trip reports for this peak that may be helpful.
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