FKT: Andrew Hamilton - Weminuche Wipeout (CO) - 2021-07-10

Route variation
Any route, TH-TH
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3d 1h 7m 0s

This is a great route I have always had an eye on, the biggest obstacle to this route being the addition of Rio Grande Pyramid just because it is so far from the rest of the peaks.  I did this as part of the Centennial Speed Record attempt, and doing this as one multiday trip was not very efficient as far as that record was concerned.  However I figured this was my chance to finally tackle this epic route, even if it would cost me some time on the Centennial record.

The style I used was supported.  However the support was constrained by the 3000 foot rule.  I could receive support as long as I was not within 3000 feet of any of the summits. 

Rio Grande Pyramid

I started in the very late morning with Rio Grande Pyramid and it was so hot!  I was dying on the hike to Rio Grande Pyramid.  After reaching the summit I was going to be on unknown ground for the next 15 miles as I descended Rio Grande Pyramid to the West, then found the Ute trail which I followed for some time before heading up and over a couple of passes that led approximately to Beartown.  This area had a strange feeling as all of the forests are dead due to the beetle killed trees.  It feels like the area needs a large forest fire to clean it out, otherwise I imagine when all the dead trees start falling down the area could become a disaster.

It turned dark as I finally reached a road heading out of Beartown, and I was discouraged with how wet and infested with willows the Colorado Trail was, I had assumed it would be in better shape.  

After one last high pass before descending on the Colorado Trail to the turnoff to Vestal Basin, I was starting to get a little desperate.  The tendon on top of my left foot was hurting from the laces on my shoe, so I practically removed the shoelaces from my left shoe and thought about cutting out the entire tongue.  I was not sure if this was a showstopper injury or not.  But every step was painful and I was starting to get desperate. I feel like dealing with hurting body parts is much harder when it gets dark and you are tired.

I was running a few hours later than I had expected, and I was getting desperate so I sent Andrea a message and asked her to hike up the trail from our planned meeting spot to give me a mental boost.  In this area I saw a porcupine which was a lift because I don’t see them very often.  Dave and Andrea met up with me and then we headed back to the tent that they had set up, where they fed me a warm dinner, then we went to sleep for a few hours.  I was late enough that we couldn't take the entire 4 hour sleep that I had been hoping for.

Jagged and Vestal

We woke up and headed into Vestal Basin.  I took some Tylenol and amazingly that actually seemed to take the edge of the pain in my left foot.  At the 3000 foot rule point they loaded me up with the rope, food, pad, and sleeping bag that I would be carrying for the rest of the journey, and I headed up Vestal's Wham Ridge while they hiked ahead to meet me at the pass between Trinity and Vestal.  The Wham ridge is unlike anything that you would typically see in Colorado, and I had a lot of fun on the route. It is basically a large slab of pretty solid granite that forms a ramp that gets steeper and steeper the higher you go. It is probably the highlight of all the routes I would climb in my quest to climb all of Colorado’s Centennials.  On the summit I met a guy who was a friend of Justin Simoni, and the two of us hiked down the annoying back side of Vestal together.  At the pass between Vestal and Trinity I met up with Andrea and Dave and we dropped our packs so we could go climb Trinity Peak, not part of the Weminuche Wipeout, but a peak I was adding in because Decalibron was closed for the Centennial Peaks record, so I was climbing the next three highest peaks in Colorado, including Trinity.  Trinity is no joke and the tedious class 3 and 4 route took 3 hours.  By the time we got back to our packs we found that some voracious marmots had started eating the sweaty straps on our packs.

Dave and Andrea hiked with me to Balsam lake before turning back.  Originally I was hoping Andrea would be able to come to Jagged with me, however that seemed crazy now because she would have so far to hike out at the end of the day.  We talked and decided that Dave and Andrea would turn back so they could get back to the car at a reasonable time.  I was nervous because the previous year while climbing Jagged I hadn't been able to climb it, and Andrea had found the way up.  I wasn't 100 percent sure I could do it, although Andrea was confident I would be able to figure it out.

I headed up and over another pass, then it began to rain and it rained hard for about an hour.  At first I tried hiking through it, but then I pulled out my tarp and hunkered down and took a nap while it rained.  After the rain stopped I stashed most of my gear and took my rope gear up and over Jagged pass to the base of Jagged.  Fortunately the rocks had dried quickly although all of the dirt was muddy and slick and the moss and grass on the ledges ascending Jagged was also very slick.

I climbed through the difficult cruxes of Jagged with extremely ungraceful climbing methods. Somehow I would manage to make it up through a difficult spot, but I would basically be upside down and backwards and be in a very awkward position at the top of the hard section..  But the anticipation of the last pitch was what fueling my adrenaline.  Back in 2018 a large boulder fell into and blocked the chimney that provided easy access to the summit once the cruxes of the route had been passed.  With this chimney blocked the route became much more difficult, and the last pitch to the summit was now the hardest crux of the entire climb.  I made my way to the chimney and confirmed that I had no idea how to climb that spot, although if desperate I did think I could lasso a boulder and climb up using some prussiks.  However this would have taken a lot of time, and I didn't have that as it would get dark soon.  Instead I backtracked to where Andrea had climbed up the previous year.  Thanks to two large jug holds I was able to climb this section and make it to the summit.  Just before leaving the summit I took what I figure is probably a rare picture...I sunset picture from Jagged.

I rappelled every last inch I could, and just barely had enough daylight to get off the dangerous part of the mountain.  A minute after I finished the last rappel it was so dark that I needed my light.  I made my way back to my gear and tried descending into Noname creek but was moving so slow in the dark that I quickly decided to set up my pad and sleeping bag and sleep for the night.   

Pigeon and Turret

I awoke at first light and to my surprise met somebody who was heading up Jagged.  It is just weird to meet other people in this area as it is so remote that you don’t see people hardly anywhere.  I talked to him for awhile and tried to explain how I had solved the upper difficulties of Jagged.  Then I continued down Noname creek.  The rain from the evening before left all the willows and flowers soaked, so it was annoying because even though there is a trail it is very rugged and you get wet if the flowers and willows are wet.

Eventually you leave Noname creek and head towards Ruby Pass.  I call the experience flower whacking as I made my route through beautiful tall bluebells that were completely soaked.  I wanted to avoid the wet flowers so I made my way to the  raging stream that I had more or less been following and just bounded from boulder to boulder up the stream.  I climbed up and over Ruby Pass, then up another 2000 feet to the pass between Pigeon and Turret.  I realized that I was already just about out of food and it was still early afternoon.  I climbed Turret first where I finally had good service and was able to call Andrea.  Then I dropped down and around to climb the summit of Pigeon.


Storms were starting to build and it was clear that some were headed my way. When the first one hit I was by a big rock with a big overhang so I took cover for a few minutes until the rain stopped.  At this point I was officially winging it as I traversed down to about 12000 feet around the cliffs that form the base of Turret and Peak 15.  I was hoping to come around these cliffs then ascend to a ridge that connects to North Eolus.  I was terrified that I would run into an impassible cliffband, and I didn't really have any sort of alternate plan that wouldn’t cost me at least half a day if my planned route wouldn't go through.  It wasn’t so much the extra time that I was worried about losing if the route didn’t work out but the fact that I could be out for an extra day with no food.

It rained 3 more times on the route that would eventually lead to North Eolus, but luckily I was always near a large boulder when the rain hit and was able to take cover in pretty comfortable places for 10-20 minutes as the storms blew through.  I enjoyed taking little catnaps waiting for the rain to pass, and the rocks quickly dried once the rain stopped.

Fortunately the route I chose worked and eventually I gained the ridge just north of North Eolus, although I was surprised at how difficult it was navigating the blocky ridge to the summit of North Eolus.  I was pleasantly surprised to be on the summit with a couple of hours of light to spare before dark.  Now I was on familiar ground as I have done the 14ers in this group several times.  So I quickly climbed over to Eolus, then dropped down to Twin Lakes, and then I followed the gigantic cairns that lead the way to the 14er Sunlight.

Sunlight, Windom, and Jupiter

It turned dark about 30 minutes before I reached the summit of Sunlight, and there were hundreds of moths flying all around.  At this point I hadn’t had any calories for about half the day and I was extremely hungry and was thinking about food exclusively.  I guess watching several seasons of Naked and Afraid has affected me because there were hundreds of moths flying around and I thought about quickly grabbing one and eating it even though I have been a vegetarian since I was 19 years old. 

On the summit of Sunlight I didn’t even pause and just quickly climbed the tricky move to the true summit.  But then in the dark I had some trouble turning around and getting back across the gap.  It was terrifying as I slowly lowered myself down because I just didn’t feel confident enough to step across the gap like I usually do when it is light.

Now it had been dark for awhile and I was starting to get sleepy.  But I knew that if I could just climb Windom and Jupiter and get myself down to Chicago Basin then I could meet Andrea who was hiking in to meet me with some food.

I made the traverse across to Windom, then dropped back down the ridge to the steep couloir that is the beginning of the traverse to Jupiter.  Traversing to Jupiter was much more difficult that I remembered because there was more snow than the last time I had done this traverse.  That snow was melting and all the class 3 slabs that you have to climb on the ascent to Jupiter were wet from the melting snow.  It felt very dangerous in the dark. 

Finally I made it to the summit of Jupiter and began the steep descent down to Chicago Basin.  But I was having a difficult time keeping my eyes open, so I would occasionally lay down and rest my eyes for a minute or two before continuing.  I had my pad and sleeping bag so I could have stopped anywhere to sleep, but knowing Andrea was so close motivated me to keep going.

The Long Hike Out

When I finally reached the upper section of Chicago Basin, I knew I was only a couple of miles from where I would be meeting Andrea at 13800 in the lower part of Chicago Basin, but then via our satellite trackers I discovered she had made a navigation mistake and had descended a few miles in the wrong direction.  I pleaded with her to come back up and continued down, stumbling around barely keeping awake.

The trail to Chicago Basin was a mess with many downed trees blocking the trail, at one point I even lost the trail and had a lot of trouble finding it again, but it was right in this area where I finally saw Andrea’s light.  Just before I met up with her I found a large delux sleeping pad hanging on a tree that must have fallen off someone’s pack.  It was amazing timing and we put the pad to good use and laid it down across the trail.  I hungrily ate the large burrito that in the end Andrea hiked a round trip of over 28 miles to bring to me, and then we both fell asleep on the pad for several hours.

We woke up when it was light and still had about 14 miles to go to reach the trailhead, these are the kind of miles that I dread, the miles that just seem to go on and on and take forever.  With about 4 miles to go we reached Cascade Creek and met up with my sister, who had hiked down from Purgatory to carry my pack out those last 4 miles.

We finally reached the trailhead and it was already the middle of the day, which was a little discouraging.  But it was a good feeling to have that route finished as we moved on to complete the rest of the Centennials.