Vestal Peak's Wham Ridge

July 2010

Vestal Peak, Colorado
13,864 Feet
Photo © Kane Engelbert at Kane Engelbert Photography

The mighty San Juan mountain range plays host to a spectacular line of peaks call the Grenadier's.  One of the Grenadier's is the dramatic Vestal Peak at 13,864 ft.   On Vestal Peak is the classic Wham Ridge, a vast sloping face which offers a moderate (5.4) technical climb up the face and west ridge.   Joining us to tackle this dramatic peak was our old climbing partner, Barry Raven, his brother Tim Raven, and professional photographer Kane Engelbert.   Scroll down for photos of this great climb.

To get to the trailhead, you have to take the Durango-Silverton train and get off at Elk Park.  This saves several miles of hiking,'s just fun.

It's about a six-mile hike to get to the base of the mountain.  We took our time and did it in two legs, the first leg being to the Beaver Ponds near Elk Creek.

The Beaver Ponds are a great place to camp prior to the final push up to base camp.

At the Beaver Ponds, look for a very large monolithic boulder
on the east side of the pond with two cairns near the trail.  Turn right at the cairns where a faint trail goes behind the boulder and traverses the rocky east edge of the pond.

The next morning, more hiking to get to Vestal Basin for our base camp.

Taking a break on the way to Vestal Basin.

Finally at Vestal Basin.  Our mountain looms above the others in the distance.

We started around 4:00 am.  Later, Jackie stops for a quick breather with Vestal Lake below.

Alan contemplates the task ahead.

Alan on the face in the morning alpen glow.
Photo by Barry Raven

Barry shot this great photo of Alan and Jackie as tiny dots on the Vestal's sloping face.

Getting high on Vestal's steep face.

Jackie traverses over a narrow ledge.

Alan on the face with Vestal Lake below.