West Spanish Peak (13,626′) | Colorado | 10/12/19

 


West Spanish Peak (13,626′) | CO Rank: 183/637

Sangre de Cristo Range | San Isabel National Forest | La Veta, CO

10/12/19 | 7.46 miles | 2,655′ gain | Class 2


West Spanish Peak was Allie’s and my last snow-free summit of 2019. And to make it even more special, it was my very first peak in the Sangre de Cristo Range! One of my goals for 2019 was to climb a peak in each of the Colorado mountain ranges that I hadn’t climbed in before: Sawatch, Elk, Gore, San Juan, and Sangre de Cristo. I was only able to climb in 2 of those ranges this year, but that leaves only 3 new ranges for 2020, a very attainable goal.

West Spanish Peak is a majestic looking mountain, the 12th most prominent in Colorado. I was so excited to climb it!

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West Spanish Peak

We made the 4.5 hour drive and started down the West Peak Trail off Cordova Pass at 9:30am. A late start, but we had a full day of perfect weather ahead of us. We were a little worried about being cold in the wind so we bundled up, but then almost instantly stripped back down to our normal hiking clothes. It was WARM!

The view of West Spanish from the meadow along the trail is both gorgeous and daunting. I could NOT believe how far away it looked, and so STEEP! We plunged back into the forest, gaining minimal elevation over the first few miles of trail. Soon we arrived at the base of the talus slope, which marked the “real” start to our journey. Hello rocks.

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The talus slope, it doesn’t seem nearly as steep from up close!

Allie is a monster on talus, just crushing everything that comes before her. And I piddle along behind, huffing and puffing, expecting death at any moment. But we plugged along and the slope grew longer behind us.

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The yellow patch near the center is the meadow from the first picture. Culebra Peak (14,047′) and her 13er friends rise up in the distance.

Every now and again we’d take a break and check our elevation. We’re getting closer!

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Talus slope fun. Up and up we go! This just shows how steep it was.

We knew there was a false summit that we’d hit first, and it snuck up on us. Only 150′ more now! We slogged up the final bit to the summit, but then there were some more bumps a bit farther that looked higher…so we trekked to those as well.

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The true summit (with the cairn).

The first bump was the highest of course. The big cairn marks the summit. But the short walk along the summit ridge offered us some special views.

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Dikes below West Spanish Peak

The dikes around West Spanish Peak were formed when magma rose up from below, filling fissures in the existing bedrock. Erosion then wore aware the surrounding rock, exposing lines (or dikes) of hardened magma. Geology rocks.

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East Spanish Peak (12,684′)

The wind picked up while we were at the summit, so we took only a short snack break before heading back to the car. What a perfect day for my first 13er in the Sangres!

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Heading back down!

Chelsea


 

18 thoughts on “West Spanish Peak (13,626′) | Colorado | 10/12/19

      1. My plan is to take a shot at the whole thing again. I think the issues I had this summer are behind me. I just got back from a 3 day hike, albeit without the altitude, and all went fine. Fingers crossed for next August! 🙂

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  1. Are the dikes are those “The Great Wall of China” looking things down there? These mountains looks also pretty dangerous having only broken rocks to walk on….aren’t they? Love the photos as always.

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    1. Yes! The dikes are these huge rock walls. They look really small from the summit, but from down below they’re probably 50-100′ tall!

      Talus is definitely more dangerous to walk on than a normal hiking trail, but I’ve been practicing for a long time to get to a point where I’m pretty comfortable now. But I’m careful with where I step. I think if someone were to go up and was just messing around and being careless, they’d be much more likely to get injured.

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    1. Thank you! Colorado averages only around 15 inches of rainfall per year, many areas on the plains are considered arid or semi-arid. 2019 was the first year in about 10 years that we weren’t in drought conditions!

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  2. My family has a cabin in the little town below West Peak (Cuchara). I tried to summit it last summer but had to turn around for thunder storms after getting a late start. That is such a beautiful area of Colorado. I live in Atlanta and it’s a different world out there!

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