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Along the Continental Divide: Stony Pass Peaks

Saturday & Sunday, August 22-23, 2020

After spending the morning hiking to a couple peaks along the Colorado Trail near Kennebec Pass in the La Plata Mountains, I thought it was time to visit a couple of 13ers that I had missed on a previous visit to Stony Pass a few years ago since I got sidetracked that day helping a mountain biker get to the airport in Durango. After grabbing a quick lunch in Durango I headed back to the heart of the San Juan Mountains near Silverton and drove up to the Continental Divide at Stony Pass in the late afternoon. I found a spot to camp for the night and rested for a little bit. As sunset approached I hiked up the Hardrock 100 route to the summit of Hardrocker (13,214) so I could watch the light show. I made it up to the summit a bit earlier than I had planned, but since the summit was large and grassy I just laid down for a while and enjoyed the comfortable temperature and beautiful scenery from the top.

It was still pretty smoky out this evening as I started hiking up to Hardrocker from Stony Pass.

Rugged Smoke

I followed the Hardrock 100 route to the saddle between Canby Mountain and Hardrocker.

Hardrocker Route

That rounded and grassy hill straight ahead is the summit of Hardrocker.


The view from the summit was pretty smoky looking down to the Animas River.

Smoky Hardrocker View

Down below Galena Mountain in Rocky Gulch are the large ruins of the Buffalo Boy Mine.

Buffalo Boy Mine & Galena Mountain

Half Peak (13841) was lit up through the smoke to the east.

Half Peak

The Smoky Skyline

Smoky Skyline

From the summit of Hardrocker there was a nice view of Canby Mountain (13,478) which sits along the Continental Divide. Sheep Mountain (13,292) and Greenhalgh Mountain (13,220) are the two mountains just off to the left.

Canby Mountain from Hardrocker

On the other side of Stony Pass is Stony Pass Peak (13,165), which I planned to climb first thing in the morning.

Stony Pass Peak

Here’s one last view of Canby Mountain as I returned to the saddle on my way back down to the pass.

Canby Mountain

The Evening Sun

The Evening Sun

Smoky Stony Gulch

Smoky Gulch

As I was hiking back down to the pass I could see Rio Grande Pyramid (13,821) on the horizon. I had two different trips planned this summer to hike to that peak, but both of them fell through. I guess I will have to try again next year, since I don’t see myself squeezing it in before the end of the summer.

Rio Grande Country

Could Be (13,152)

Could Be Sunset

I arrived back to my Jeep at Stony Pass just as the clouds were looking colorful over Could Be and Sheep Mountain.

Stony Pass Evening

Once the color in the sky was gone I got into my sleeping bag and went to bed. It had been a good day of hiking in the mountains and I was pretty tired.

On Sunday morning I slept in a little later and started hiking to the summit of Stony Pass Peak once there was enough light to see without needing a headlamp. It was a pretty short hike so I was still able to make it to the summit before sunrise. Just like on Saturday morning, the sun was orange and red through the smoke and not very bright at first.

Approaching the summit of Stony Pass Peak just before sunrise.

Nearing The Summit

The very top was a rocky scramble, but it wasn’t too difficult or loose.

Stony Pass Peak Summit

I watched the orange sun rise over Pole Creek Mountain (13,716) through the smoke.

Smoky Sky Sunrise

The sunlight filtering through the smoke made for some interesting colors and tones on the landscape of the Weminuche Wilderness below.

The Weminuche

Smoky Weminuche View

From the summit there was a good view of Green Mountain (13,049), which would be my next destination this morning. It would also be the second Green Mountain I have climbed this summer.

Green Mountain

The Grenadiers Through Smoke

The Grenadiers Through Smoke

There wasn’t an easy way down the ridge on the other side of Stony Pass Peak, so in order to get over to Green Mountain I would have to come down the way I came up and then hike around to climb back up on the ridge in a different spot.

The Ridge Below

Hiking back down the rocky ridge I came up with Stony Pass and my Jeep below.

Down the Rocky Ridge

I liked the look of this rugged peak located on the south side of Stony Pass Peak.

Stony Point

Once I was down off the ridge I hiked through the upper reaches of Stony Gulch on the north side of the peak.

Stony Gulch

Upper Stony Gulch

Upper Stony Gulch

I found an easier spot to climb up the steep slope to the top of the ridge and made my way up.

Green Mountainside

Then I followed the easy ridge towards the summit, which is the point on the left.

Ridge to Green Mountain

The last little rocky climb to the top of the summit.

Green Mountain Summit

Here’s a view from the summit looking down the other side to Tower Mountain (13,552) and Dome Mountain (13,370).

Green Mountain View

There was also a good view over to the Highland Mary Lakes from the summit. The last time I visited those lakes it was really smoky out!

Smoky Highland Mary Lakes

One last view to the edge of the Weminuche Wilderness including Mount Rhoda (13,402) and Whitehead Peak (13,259).

Edge of the Weminuche

It was an easy hike back to my Jeep through Stony Gulch and I was finished hiking early enough that I wouldn’t have to deal with too much traffic coming up the raod as I drove back down. Even though this weekend was filled with a lot smoke, I made the best of it and had a great time in the mountains again!

>> Stony Pass Peaks Photo Gallery

One Comment

  1. Dianne
    Dianne August 26, 2020

    Very unusual mts. Land that time forgot.

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