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SummitSight.com
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The great pleasure in life is doing what people say you cannot do.
– W. Bagehot

Mount Ridgway – 13,468 feet

Flanked by fame, this sanguine San Juan Thirteener helps anchor the east end of the Sneffels Range. Mount Ridgway rises 4.5 miles west of Ouray, and is between Whitehouse Mountain to the east and Teakettle Mountain to the southwest.
Ridgway's upper east slopes seen from the northern head of Weehawken Creek Ridgway’s upper east slopes seen from the northern head of Weehawken Creek
Nature's gargoyles guard Weehawken Creek's northern ramparts Seen by those seeking solitude, nature’s gargoyles guard Weehawken Creek’s northern ramparts
Potosi Peak watches Jennifer and Rick Trujillo striding toward Ridgway on 8/24/03 Potosi Peak watches Jennifer and Rick Trujillo striding toward Ridgway on 8/24/03
Rick Trujillo climbs above Weehawken Creek with Point 12,857 behind Rick Trujillo climbs above Weehawken Creek with Point 12,857 behind
A somber Teakettle Mountain A somber Teakettle Mountain with its stark north face rising abruptly above Blaine basin, as seen from Ridgway’s summit

For information on climbing Teakettle, see our guidebook,
Colorado’s Thirteeners
Rick Trujillo on Ridgway's summit Rick Trujillo on Ridgway’s summit less than five miles from his Ouray home

The Sneffels Range stretches to the west while the range’s monarch, Mount Sneffels, hides under a cloud

For information on climbing Sneffels, see Gerry’s guidebook,
Colorado’s Fourteeners
Gerry took the above photos on 8/24/03

USGS 7.5’ Quadrangles: Mount Sneffels, Ouray, Ironton

East Ridge – 10.0 miles RT, 4,728 feet net, 4,928 feet total, Class 2

This hefty hike is the easiest route on Mount Ridgway. It has a little of everything: a trail approach, a bushwhack, a stroll across luxurious alpine meadows, steep slopes and a rock scamper near the summit.
Start at the Weehawken Creek Trailhead at 8,740 feet, and hike 1.2 miles northwest up the Weehawken Creek Trail as it switchbacks up well northeast of Weehawken Creek to a signed trail junction at 9,940 feet where the Alpine Mine Trail heads up to the north. Stay on the Weehawken Creek Trail for another 1.0 mile as it winds in and out of several side drainages, and reach the edge of a large washout at 10,200 feet where the trail appears to end. Look sharp for cairns marking a route across the 200-yard-wide washout, and pick up the still strong trail on the other side of the washout. Keeping an eye on the gargoyles above, continue northwest for another 0.6 mile on the trail to 10,700 feet where the trail really does end at a sign reading simply, “Weehawken Creek.” The valley turns to the southwest here, and your Class 1 trail approach is over, but looking ahead, you can see the enticing, open alpine meadows.
Bushwhack 0.5 mile southwest to the base of a steep, but open slope. You may find remnants of an old miner’s trail in this stretch. Climb 200 yards southwest up the steep slope above, again looking for trailremnants. At the top of this slope at 11,400 feet, an open vista, and the sightof easy terrain ahead will reward your efforts to this point. From this sumptuous, hanging garden you can see Potosi’s huge summit block just a mile to the southwest, Teakettle’s dainty summit is 1.2 miles west, and the still mostly hidden Ridgway and Whitehouse are to the northeast.
To skirt the cliffs above you to the north, hike 0.25 mile west on easy slopes, then turn north and continue 0.25 mile north up grass slopes to another hanging garden in the small basin above the cliffs at 12,000 feet. From here, you can see Ridgway’s upper slopes less than a mile to the northwest, and the rounded, flat-topped bulk of Whitehouse is to the north. Hike 0.2 mile northeast, cross to the east side of a small, rocky ridge at 12,200 feet and hike 0.5 mile north on open grass slopes through yet another grassy wonderland to 12,600 feet in the small basin between Ridgway and Whitehouse. Your 4.6 mile approach is over, and only the summit climb remains.
There is a strong game trail leading to the 12,900-foot saddle between Ridgway and Whitehouse, but this is not the route. Instead, climb 0.2 mile northwest up steep, rocky slopes that narrow to a shallow gully, and reach the 13,020-foot saddle between Point 13,150 and Ridgway. Ascending this slope avoids the pesky traverse of Point 13,150 that you would have to do if you climbed to the 12,900-foot Ridgway-Whitehouse saddle. From the 13,020-foot saddle, climb 0.2 mile west up the rounded rock slopes of Ridgway’s east ridge, scamper through the summit rock cap in a Class 2 gap, and stroll up a smooth chip-rock slope to the summit.

South Ridge – 10.0 miles RT, 4,728 feet net, 5,128 feet total, Class 2

This alternate route on Mount Ridgway climbs from upper Weehawken Creek to the south ridge instead of the east ridge. Start at the Weehawken Creek Trailhead at 8,740 feet, and follow the East Ridge Route for 3.4 miles up Weehawken Creek to the sumptuous, hanging garden at 11,400 feet. From here, hike 0.7 mile west-northwest to 12,600 feet in the basin between Teakettle and Ridgway, then climb 300 yards west-northwest up a steeper slope to the 13,020-foot saddle that is the low point on the ridge between Ridgway and Teakettle. Turn north (right) and hike 0.7 mile north on the ridge, bypassing or climbing two false summits en route, to reach Ridgway’s summit. It is only the false summits on the south ridge that make this route slightly harder than the East Ridge Route. Ascending the South Ridge Route, and descending the East Ridge Route makes an obvious Tour de Ridgway.

Variation

You can reach Ridgway’s south ridge in the 13,140-foot saddle between the two false summits by climbing from Blaine Basin to the northwest.
Copyright © 2001-2017 by Gerry Roach. All Rights Reserved.
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