A Bike-Packraft-Climbing Multi-Sport Mission to Wham Ridge
Ok folks, I have a confession to to make… Doing long hiking days on very well established trails bores the crap out of me. Make that hike an “out and back,” and I’ll avoid it like the plague. You can tempt me with amazing alpine scenery, possible moose sightings, and what many call the best alpine route in the San Juans, a right of passage for ultra runners, and I’m still not biting.
The route in question is the Wham Ridge, above Vestal basin. A truly magical place to visit, but its a 20 + mile out and back, long-ass walk. And in 15 years of living in the area I never really gave it much thought.
That changed last spring when my friend Mark started asking me about packrafting the Upper Animas, which I’ve done at several different levels. He was mostly interested in accessing the Weminuche Wilderness and in particular Vestal basin.
The spark was lit, a plan was made, river level was on the way down from peak, Lloyd and Sam were in. The day was summer solstice June 21, 2014. In hindsight this crew would agree, it was a long one!!
So this is how it went. Drive up to Silverton, on the way drop cruiser bikes near the top of Molas Pass. Packraft down the Upper A for 6 miles(I swam once) to the Colorado Trail. Drop boats and wet gear there. Hike up to Vestal basin, and solo the Wham Ridge. Hike back to the boats pack up and hike up to Molas Pass in the dark. Find cruiser bikes, and smoke hubs(see video) down the pass to Silverton. This took a solid 15 hours, and was fun!
You may have noticed the .75 Camalot (a piece of climing gear) in the Instagram video that was used to break the chocolate Santa into wonderful bite-sized pieces. I ground scored it on the way up, and hours later found the owners as they were breaking camp in the valley below. They checked their rack and sure enough, missing .75! Bonus points!!!!