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Culebra Peak and Red Mountain

June 24, 2011

Culebra and Red map

Culebra Peak (14,047'), Red Mountain (13,908')
Round-trip distance: 8.4 miles,
Elevation gain: 3,850 feet

After meeting at the front gate, checking in at the office, and hitching a ride with "Dave" to the uppermost trailhead, it was 7a.m. and I was finally hiking my way up the northwest slopes of Culebra Peak.

Note: Click on picture to see high resolution photograph in separate window:

First slopes at timberline

To be honest, I did not expect a whole lot from this mountain, but the fact that everyone was left to find their own route and to (for the most part) avoid the use of trails or cairns, did make this feel more pristine than most other 14er standard routes in the state. Also, my lungs had now adjusted to the thin western air, so unlike two days ago I had no trouble with the altitude.

After hiking the grassy slopes to the ridge, I followed the solid rock of the snake-like ridge all the way to the summit, arriving exactly two hours from when I'd left the trailhead.


First slopes at timberline

Several other hikers arrived just behind me, and we took pictures and talked for 15 minutes before I left the summit.

Red Mountain was also easily ascended from the Culebra-Red saddle. Unlike Culebra though, Red Mountain was a pile of loose scree and talus, and a steep switch-backing trail led all the way from the saddle to the summit.

Culebra and Red

The hardest part of the day for me was returning to Culebra's ridge at 13,900 feet, mainly because the wind had picked up and was trying to knock me down. I also chose a steeper route down the northwest slopes, which slowed me down on the descent.

It was noon by the time I arrived back at the trailhead. It was hot and sunny here, and with no one around I continued walking down to the Fourway parking. A guy named Bob caught up with me along the road. Not only was he kind enough to drive me from Fourway back down to the checkout point at the office, but he even gave me an ice cold Coke from the cooler in his truck! My legs were still sore from my tromp down the Lake Como Road two days earlier, so I was ecstatic not to have to hike the steep road down to the ranch office.

By the way, I have nothing but good things to say about the folks at Cielo Vista Ranch. They were very nice people all-around. Anyone who complains about the fee should at least consider they allow access at all, unlike some of the previous ranch owners. I also see no shame in the "ABC (All but Culebra) Club", but I couldn't help myself to stay true to climbing the 100 highest of the state, Red Mountain included. After all, you never know what the future holds, and I'd rather visit these mountains while I can than risk having no access to them at all in the future.