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On Walkabout On: Red Mountain, Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: Red Mountain
  • Range: Sangre de Cristo
  • Where: San Luis, Colorado
  • Max Elevation: 13,908 feet
  • Distance:  1 mile one-way
  • Elevation Gain: 500 feet one-way
  • Time: 1 hour one-way
  • Difficulty: EasyModerateHardDifficult
  • More Information: 13ers.com

Route Up Red Mountain

Red Mountain Route

Narrative

After completing my climb up to the summit of the 14,047 foot Culebra Peak I left to do the traverse to the neighboring 13,908 foot Red Mountain.  This peak is the 70th highest in Colorado which makes it one of the 100 highest mountains in the state which are known as Centennial Peaks.  The hardest part of the traverse is the descent from Culebra Peak.  The descent is some what steep and requires some careful rock scrambling.  Here is a photo looking back at Culebra Peak after I reached the saddle between the two mountains:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Once at the bottom of Culebra Peak I just needed to walk across the saddle to the base of Red Mountain:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

There is a little bump I was able to skirt on the saddle that required some careful walking across some loose talus rock.  Within 30 minutes I found myself staring up at Red Mountain directly in front of me:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a panorama picture from the saddle showing Red Mountain on the left and the peaks of the southern Culebra Range on the right:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

For the ascent up Red Mountain there was a steep dirt trail that swithbacked up the side of the mountain.  This made gaining the summit of Red Mountain pretty easy.  Within 20 minutes I found myself on Red Mountain’s expansive summit:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

In total it is about a 1-mile hike from Culebra to Red Mountain with about 500 feet of elevation gain from the saddle.  It ended up taking me 50-minutes to complete the traverse.  I did not find the summit of Red Mountain to be all that inspiring since it was basically just a big pile of rock.  However, it has some good views looking North right at Culebra Peak and the traverse I had just completed:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Culebra Peak where its false summit (left) and true summit (right) are clearly visible:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Further to the North I could see the northern section of the Culebra Range with the 13,517 foot Trinchera Peak visible on the far left:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

To the Northeast the view was dominated by the Spanish Peaks:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

West Spanish Peak is a 13er that I have climbed multiple times before.  You can read about my prior hike up this mountain at the below link:

Here is a panorama picture looking East where the Spanish Peaks are visible on the far left and in the center are the foothills between the Culebra Range and the 9,631 foot Fishers Peak which rises above Trinidad, Colorado in the distance:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is the view from Red Mountain looking South at the southern Culebra Range which includes the 13,723 foot Vermejo Peak and the 13,676 foot Purgatoire Peak:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Further out in the distance I could the 12,445 foot Baldy Mountain located outside of Eagle Nest, New Mexico:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Even further in the distance I could see the highest peak in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak which is 13,161 feet high:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

I ended up spending about 30-minutes of the summit of Red Mountain before deciding to head back over to Culebra Peak.  The descent down Red Mountain to the saddle was quick and easy.  Here is a view looking at Culebra Peak from the saddle:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a view from the saddle looking at the southern section of the Culebra Range:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Before reaching the base of Culebra Peak I had to traverse along the side of the small hill on the saddle again:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

The rock on this section of the saddle is a little loose so I had to be cautious of my footing.  Here is a wide angle panorama from the side of this small hill which shows Culebra Peak on the left and Red Mountain on the right:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

I soon found myself back at the base of Culebra Peak staring up at the steep talus rock I would need to climb up:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

From the base I carefully worked my way up the steep pile of rock back to the summit of Culebra Peak.  There was no longer anyone on the summit now other than the marmot welcoming committee:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

I ended up spending about 15-minutes on Culebra’s summit again eating a quick lunch and once again enjoying the views.  Here is the view once again of the northern section of the Culebra Range:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Trinchera Peak off in the distance:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Even further in the distance I could see the 13,435 foot Blanca Peak:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Even further out in the distance behind Blanca Peak I could even see the Crestone Group of 14ers:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the Spanish Peaks to the Northeast:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking to the East towards Trinidad, Colorado:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look towards the East where Fishers Peak and Trinidad Lake were visible:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is the view looking towards the South with Red Mountain visible on the left:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the 13,723 foot Vermejo Peak and the 13,676 foot Purgatoire Peak in the southern section of the Culebra Range:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

After finishing my quick lunch I bid farewell to my marmot buddies on the summit of Culebra and headed over to my next destination which was the 13,436 foot Punta Serpiente:

Picture from Culebra Peak, Colorado

Conclusion

Overall there really isn’t much different to see from the summit of Red Mountain then what can be seen from Culebra Peak.  Really the only view that is different is that from Red Mountain I was able to get a good look at the southern face of Culebra Peak.  Doing the traverse though did allow me to summit one of the Top 100 peaks in Colorado.  So if I decide to pursue finishing that goal after finishing the 14ers then I have one already done.  Despite the limited appeal of doing the traverse I actually did enjoy it because the weather was great and it extended the time I was able to spend in the mountains.  I paid $150 to be here, so I might as well enjoy it as much as possible and I did enjoy hiking up Red Mountain.

Next Posting: The Traverse to Punta Serpiente

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