Looking for a challenge? With Mt Eolus, you’ve found one. This fourteener is a class 3 peak with a long, arduous approach hike that includes a train trip into the wilderness. Beyond that you’ve got exposure, route-finding and backpacking required for a safe and successful summit. This is not a good 14er for beginners – wait until you have some experience for this climb, and prepare and plan ahead using my Mt Eolus route guide below. Safe travels on the trail!
Climbing Mount Eolus Fast Facts
CAUTION: This Route is Hazardous!
You are responsible for your personal safety in the backcountry.
These peaks can be unpredictable and dangerous. Help is often hours or days away: your safety is primarily your responsibility. Prepare for your trek, understand your limits, be aware of the risks, and equip yourself with the necessary skills and gear.
Climbing Mount Eolus - Northeast Ridge
It’s harder to get to the Needleton trailhead than any other 14er trailhead… the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad provides train service to the location, which is how most people get there. 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, it’s an extremely long backpacking trip only recommended for experienced hikers and backpackers. Those who do wish to hike should follow the Purgatory Creek Trail.
The best route guide for climbing Mount Eolus, along with the other Chicago Basin 14ers, is found at 14ers.com. You should take some time to read through their description and review their photos before going on your trip.
A topographic map is essential for climbing Mount Eolus, allowing you to locate your position and navigate through difficult terrain to stay on route. I recommend downloading a copy of this map on your phone and printing out a backup copy in case something happens to your electronics. Bringing a compass and GPS app or unit is also a good idea while climbing Mount Eolus.
Use these sources to check the weather conditions before your trip. Consider the temperature high and low, wind speed, precipitation, and whether there are any storm systems moving in that you should be aware of.
Below is the full National Weather Service forecast for the Mount Eolus area. I highly recommend that you read it thoroughly to prepare before climbing Mount Eolus.
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:
There are a few types of gear you will need while climbing Mount 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.
- A good pair of hiking boots for 14ers
- The ten essentials for mountain safety.
- A day pack to carry your gear, food, and water.
- Headlamps are helpful for early starts (and late nights).
- Good snacks to keep you fueled
- Trekking poles are optional but highly recommended
- A personal locator beacon might save your life.
Read all of my gear reviews and recommendations by clicking here.
Camping near Mount 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 Mount Eolus:
- The Bent Elbow Hotel – Silverton
- The Avon – Silverton
- Comfort Inn – Durango
- Purgatory Village Condo Hotel
There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Durango, Silverton, and the surrounding area, ideal for those hiking Windom Peak.
Mount 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 Mount 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 Mount Eolus! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.
Mount Eolus is named after the Greek God of the wind. While it was originally spelled “Aeolus” in the 1874 survey, the name was spelled “Eolus” by the 1878 Wheeler Survey just a few years later. It is a moderate-difficult class three peak in the Chicago Basin group, located within the Needles sub-range of the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado.
Climbing Mount Eolus is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.
Climbing Mount Eolus 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.