La Plata County Highpoint Trip Report

Identification of the County Highpoint

Date: September 7, 2011
Author: Dave Covill

Beckie and I climbed Windom Peak in the Chicago Basin in SW Colorado, of particular note to cohpers.

Ken Jones climbed it on Labor Day weekend 2009, when a large group I organized was off doing Sunlight and Eolus. Ken noted that the BM was lower than the summit block, did some research with the USGS, and discovered that the summit elevations for Eolus (14,083 ft) and Windom (14,082 ft) are for their respective BM's, not the actual physical highest points. Ergo, the tops are not quite as noted on maps. Eolus' BM is only about a foot or so lower, but Windom's is much more.

Upon arrival, I inspected the situation. I calculate that the Windom BM is 4 feet 6 inches lower than the top of the highest block. That makes Windom around 14,086 feet, at least 2 feet higher than Eolus. This changes a county highpoint, a range highpoint, and some prominence calculations.

Ken got the USGS to confirm his findings. Gerry Roach also assisted in that analysis 2 years ago, and properly refers to Windom as the "King" in his 3rd edition 14er guidebook, out since March of this year.

All previous Colorado COHP Completers are of course grandfathered in. Future Completers must do Windom. I know of at least a handful of Completers who have Eolus, but not Windom. I imagine that several of them will hike the 6 miles & 3,000 vertical feet back into the Basin some day; and gain another 3,000 feet on this Class 2+ scramble to visit Windom.

We thoroughly enjoyed the peak; a bit of talus and boulder scrambling along a ridge, nothing major. Great views of the entire San Juans in all directions. We could easily see Hesperus, Uncompahgre, Vermillion, Sneffels, Wilsons, and could make out the Summit/Conejos area far to the east.

I visited Centennial 13er Jupiter the next day, while others visited Eolus. I also re-climbed Sunlight Peak, which has an airy 4th class move to reach the top, perhaps the hardest move on any CO 14er. A great weekend in a special place. I now only lack 4 of 55 14ers to complete that list. I haven't completed a list since 1999 when I finished the CO cohps. Perhaps in 2012 !?!

webmaster's comment: Use your judgement as to whether this evidence is sufficient to rule-out Eolus as the La Plata County highpoint. In my view this report has a solid argument - although some will, nonetheless, consider a 2 foot elevation difference to be insufficient for claiming that Eolus need not be climbed. Writing subjectively, once you are in Chicago Basin it would be a shame to climb only Windom.