Climbing North Eolus | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice

If you plan to climb Mount Eolus, you might as well add North Eolus to your plans as well. It only adds about 30 minutes to your trip to climb both peaks, as they’re separated by a small saddle and just a few hundred feet. As a Chicago Basin 14er, it’s hard to reach North Eolus, so it’s best to make your time there worthwhile. Plan your adventure with my North Eolus route guide below.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Climbing North Eolus Fast Facts

Climbing North Eolus - South Ridge

The Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad provides train service to the Needleton flag Stop, which is how most people get to the Chicago Basin. Click here for information and buy tickets – make sure you call them and tell them you’re stopping at the Needleton stop. While you can do this trip without taking the train along the Purgatory Creek Trail, it’s a long backpacking trip only recommended for experienced hikers and backpackers.

My route guide begins from the Needleton train stop. You’ll see a few cabins and a bridge across the Animas River; grab your pack from the baggage car and hit the trail. Cross the bridge and take a right to get started.

A little less than a mile along this well-built and maintained trail, stay left at a junction, and shortly after officially enter the Weminuche Wilderness area. 5 more miles of hiking will bring you to the Chicago Basin area. I recommend following Needle Creek to find a good campsite, somewhere between 10,500 feet and 10,800 feet. This is a good place to stop for the night before your summit attempt. Mount Eolus and North Eolus will both be visible above you at the end of the basin.

From your camp in Chicago Basin, continue along the trail towards the upper end of the basin. This is the same trail used to climb Sunlight Peak. Around 11,200 feet, take a left to reach the lower Twin Lake. 

Continue along the trail, being mindful of a few rock slab sections where the route can be hard to follow. Finally get above the tree line around 11,400 feet where you’re treated to a grand view of the route ahead. Make it across two stream crossings as your ascend up into the higher basin, finally reaching Twin Lake around 12,500 feet.

From the lake, Mount Eolus towers above you to your left. Follow the trail that heads towards Mount Eolus below a series of cliffs. Continue above 13,000′ as you approach the area where you’ll climb out of the basin. Just beyond some large slabs, you’ll see a large rock ramp that leads up and out of the basin, enter it to your right around 13,400 feet. While sections of this wide ramp can be sketchy, it should not exceed class 2+ difficulty. At the top, continue north from the ramp to reach a large flat area east of the ridge ahead of you. 

Your next goal is to reach this ridge. Locate a notch in the ridge just above a short, green gully. While you have several options to reach it, the easiest and most direct route is straight up the green gully. Make it to the notch around 13,850 feet. From here you face the crux of climbing North Eolus.

From the ridge, turn right and begin to scramble up the south face of North Eolus. The rock is very grippy and this section does not exceed an easy class 3 climb. The pitch will get more difficult, but not exceed class 3 as you near the summit. 

From the top, enjoy unmatched views of the southern San Juans extending in all directions. Be sure you descend with enough time to reach tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a significant threat. I hope you found my North Eolus route guide helpful and informative for your climb. Safe travels on the trail, and good luck climbing North Eolus!

If you are planning on climbing North Eolus, you will need a dependable topographic map to navigate while in the field. I recommend saving a digital copy on your phone and printing out a backup in case something happens to your electronics. It is also a good idea to bring a compass and a GPS unit or app.

Here are two reliable sources for weather forecasts in the mountains. The first is a link to the Mountain Forecast weather model website.

Mountain Forecast for North Eolus

Below is the full weather forecast from the National Weather Service. I recommend reading through it entirely before climbing North Eolus, with a focus on the temp high and low, precipitation risk, wind speeds, and storms.

If you are taking the railroad, be sure you arrive at the correct station. Double-check your ticket if you are not sure.

DIRECTIONS TO THE RAILROAD PARKING LOTS:

DURANGO: Long term parking in Durango is available in our large lot adjacent to the train yards. Parking is $10.00 per day for passenger cars and $15.00 per day for RV’s. You will need to pay for each day your vehicle will be in the lot. By city ordinance, overnight camping is not allowed in our parking lot. Click here for more parking information.
 
SILVERTON: You are invited to park your vehicle at the Silverton Depot on 10th & Cement Streets at no charge. (Note: D&SNG does not assume any responsibility for your vehicle.) This is a few blocks away from where you board the train. You may want to drop off the rest of your party and gear closer to the train and then park the car.

There are a few types of gear you will need while climbing North Eolus if you want to increase your chance of a safe and successful ascent. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you for this fourteener.

Read all of my gear reviews and recommendations by clicking here.

Camping near North Eolus:

There are no organized campgrounds in the Chicago Basin area. However, dispersed camping is available below the lakes in the higher parts of the Basin. Please follow all signage and area closures while selecting a campsite.

Lodging near North Eolus:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Durango, Silverton, and the surrounding area, ideal for those climbing North Eolus.

North Eolus is located in a pristine wilderness area that faces an increasing number of visitors with each passing year. Help preserve these peaks for future generations by following these Leave No Trace practices while climbing North Eolus.

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck climbing North Eolus! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

North Eolus is not a ranked peak because it lacks at least 300 feet of prominence. However, it only takes about 20 minutes to climb it if you are already climbing Mount Eolus, so it gets a good amount of attention. Like the main peak, it is named after the Greek God of the Wind. Climbing North Eolus is a great choice for warming up before attempting the larger Mount Eolus nearby.

Hiking Windom Peak is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Hiking Windom Peak is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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