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Vestal peak

Climb Vestal peak via the iconic wham ridge. 


Vestal trip overview

Vestal peak is the type of objective the beginner to intermediate alpine climber dreams of. Located in a picturesque alpine valley in the largest swath of wilderness in Colorado, Vestal is a remote 13er that asks to be climbed. The peak itself is a sight to behold and is worth the hike alone. But the trip doesn’t stop at first sight of Vestal, it’s just getting started.

Boasting an alpine ridge even the most experienced alpine climbers can’t help but revel in, the Wham Ridge, we will spend the second day scaling this iconic feature. With over 2,000ft of continuous easy to moderate climbing and scrambling the ridge deposits you on a summit bloc with 360 degree panoramic views that wont disappoint. Don’t miss your opportunity to climb this San Juan classic with some of the most experienced guides in the San Juans. 


intermediate difficulty


Duration Scale 3 days v2



Trip Itinerary

Day 1
  •  First we met at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad station to board the iron horse that will deposit us at the bottom of the animas valley and reduce our approach by 5 miles. 
  • After we get off the train and gather our packs we locate the Colorado trail and begin our hike up towards Vestal basin. 
  • After reaching the beaver ponds we get our first unobstructed view of our objective which will continue to loom over us for the rest of the day. 
  • By late afternoon we will arrive at Vestal basin and we will set up camp and prepare for an early start the next day. 
  • Before calling it a night, we encourage you to take some time and soak in the star studied skies that are void of any form of light pollution. You might even see a shooting star. 
Day 2
  • We will wake up very early to have some breakfast and set out to begin hiking up to the base of the peak. The exact time will be determined by your guide the day prior. 
  • At a point your guide will transition you to a roped team and the technical climbing section will begin. Progressively getting steeper the further up the ridge you get. 
  • After reaching the summit bloc no latter than noon, we will take some time (if we have extra) to enjoy the summit view and snap some photos before beginning our descent. 
  • Descending the saddle between Vestal and its sister peak to the west, Arrow we will arrive back at camp and enjoy the rest of the afternoon with some free time before turning in for our second night in the basin. 
Day 3
  • We wake up at a more reasonable hour and have some breakfast before packing up camp and heading back down the trail we arrived on.
  • Arriving at the Beaver ponds we connect back with the Colorado Trail and take our last look at Vestal before it becomes obscured from view as we continue our descent into the animas river valley.
  • Arriving at Elk Park train station, we wait for our train to stop and pick us up to take us out of the wilderness in style. Most often enjoying a hard earned cold beer on the way out.
  • Upon arriving in Durango, your guide will gather all company gear debrief you on your trip and let you go to tell all your friends about the unforgettable experience you just  had.

Where You Will Stay

Durango, Colorado

Historical Durango is nestled in the Animas River valley. A high desert paradise, the downtown is laced with delectable restaurants and thirst quenching bars and breweries. There are a variety of hotels to pick from but when considering the best option, convenience is king. Since this trip departs from the Durango & Silverton train station, we suggest finding a place to lay your head within walking distance to simplify pre and post trip logistics. Some of our personal favorites include The Rochester Hotel, The Best Western Plus Rio Grande Inn, and The Strater Hotel.

where we will meet

Prior to the first day of the trip you will meet with your guide locally in Durango to have a pre-trip meeting on the general trip plan and complete a gear check. After all your gear has been checked by your guide a time will be determined to meet at the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad station the next morning to load up your packs onto the train cars and find your seats for the trip into the mountains. The train station is located in downtown Durango and is very easily located. 


SJE HQ Asset

What is Included in the cost?

included in trip cost icon

– AMGA certified & trained guide

– Federal land usage surcharge (USFS/BLM)

– Camping equipment and all meals 

Not Included Icon

– Guide gratuity

Train fees (approach via the iconic Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railway!)

– Personal clothing/gear

* If you need to rent equipment locally visit our friends at Backcountry Experience. If you are coming from the Front Range reach out our partners at Cripple Creek Backcountry.

Course Gallery

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Anyone participating in our programs must fill out a waiver beforehand. If you are under 18, please have your parent/guardian complete.


Please familiarize yourself with our Booking & Cancellation Policies.


Skiers/riders should be in good physical condition, and confident/comfortable on their method of snow travel (backcountry touring skis or splitboard).