- Date: September 16, 2021
- Partner: Mike Todt
- Height: 14,034 feet
- Range: San Juan
- Route: Northeast Ridge (Class 2)
- Overall Distance: 9 miles
- Elevation Gain: 3,700 feet (car to summit)
- 14ers climbed: 41 separate climbs
- 14ers remaining: 12
- Road Condition to Trailhead: From Silverton, you must traverse Cinnamon Pass via the Alpine Loop. This is a very rough, if not dangerous, road that will require 4WD with a high clearance. You will be crawling along a plethora of rocks, steep drop-offs, and washouts. The scenery is spectacular (at least for the passenger 😆). It is roughly 20 miles to get to the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch trailhead and it will take you every bit of 1.5 hours or more to get there (seriously).
Since I was losing the summer fast due to the heavy burden the pandemic was placing on my workplace, I was approaching the point of “now or never” if I wanted to get some 14ers under my belt in the year 2021. Similar to last year, I decided to fly to Albuquerque, NM (instead of Denver). I arrived late Tuesday night and crashed at a local hotel. The next morning, I grabbed a Toyota Tacoma and made the 4.5-hour drive up to Silverton, CO. Around dinner, my friend Mike Todt came up from Durango to join me.
We did not arrive at the trailhead the next morning until around 8:30 (see Road Condition to Trailhead above). The weather was crisp and sunny; perfect conditions for bagging a 14er. From the trailhead, you will be hiking for a couple of miles alongside Silver Creek to your right. It’s good trail that steadily and gently climbs upward.
Around 12,000′, the trail breaks out into a beautiful, vast basin and you will see the saddle to the northeast ridge in front of you. Continue for another relatively easy mile and ascend good trail up to the saddle (~ 13,000′).
Here is where the work begins. Head west along the saddle on obvious trail until you get into the steepest section you will encounter on your journey, with loose rock and patches of sandy ground. Mike and I decided to swing out to climber’s right to avoid the worst part of this area before heading back towards the ridgeline. The goal is to vector towards an obvious false summit.
Once at the false summit, things will flatten out a bit, and you will see obvious, good trail leading you to the summit roughly 0.5 mile away. Mike and I took our time and made it to the summit with no problems. This was Mike’s first 14er and he honestly did an excellent job of polishing this off. Redcloud Peak has wonderful views of the San Juans and other neighboring 14ers; it might be one of the prettier 14er summits.
With two nights of sleeping at altitude, a few Diamox, and taking in only Gatorade for sustenance, I had no problems with altitude sickness. I was in better shape this year than in 2020 due to increasing my running volume and intensity while back in Charlotte.
We had no problems or anything eventful to report retracing our steps back to the trailhead; it might have taken us 2.5 hours to get back? If you are an ultra runner, getting ready to run the local Hardrock 100, say, then this route would be a great choice for a training run.
Let’s give this about a 2.5 out of 10 on a scale of difficulty. If you are inclined to make a weekend out of it, then this would be a good choice for someone looking to bag their first 14er. Happy trails to you …