Las Animas County High Point Trip Report

West Spanish Peak (13,626 ft)

Date: November 12, 2003
Author: Kevin Baker

This peak is not a Centennial Peak, but it sure looks like one! With a forecast for snow on Thursday and the start of a new job on Monday, I decided to bag a county highpoint (Las Animas). I left Colorado Springs at 5:50 a.m. with hopes of summiting before any snow came. I knew that there would be little if any snow on West Spanish, since Greenhorn had very little just a few days earlier. I had no problem with directions, arrived at Cordova Pass at 8:15 a.m. and set off at 8:38 a.m.

I had my first impressive view of West Spanish in the open meadow shortly after starting. It looks like it could be class 3 in spots from a distance, but it was a pretty straightforward hike until I messed up. I made it to the base of the 1,600-foot 1 mile assault on the southwest slope in about an hour, with views of the Crestones, Blanca, and Culebra groups. It was surprising that West Spanish was totally devoid of snow, while many nearby 14'ers had quite a bit. I had read some reports saying there was no trail to the summit ridge, but I did find a fairly well-cairned trail on the right side of the southwest ridge. The scenery was great with some interesting volcanic rock buttresses along the way. Also impressive were the dikes that branched out in many directions on the valley floor. Devil's Staircase is also a site to behold. I gained the summit ridge and made a right to the summit, gaining the westernmost rise at 10:48 AM. The weather was reasonably mild with not much wind. After about 45 minutes on the summit, I headed down.

On the way up, I set a waypoint on my GPS for the correct spot to join the southwest ridge. Somehow I ended up going down a scree gully on the southeast side, costing me quite a bit of time over the unpleasant scree. I was off-route from about 13,200 feet down to 12,000 feet, where I finally came across a switchback. That gaffe really wore me out, which ended up taking me more time to get down. I always have problems seeing the cairns on the way down!

Trip statistics: From Cordova Pass, southwest slope -
2 hours 10 minutes up, 2 hours 14 minutes down; about 6.5 miles with 2,900 feet of elevation gain.