Wham Ridge

11 May 2001 - by Chris Cavallaro

BEAUTIFUL.. Nothing else like the Wham.. The Grenadiers are the only Colorado Mtns. to run west to east as opposed to north to south. I have not found a more magnificent place in all my hikes in Colorado.

Thought i would throw a trip report together if anyone is interested.

Hike from molas pass or take the train to Elk Park trailhead (about five miles from Molas Pass) From elk park take the trail heading easterly, (i believe this is the Colorado trail) Hike the main trail from Elk park about 4-5 miles or so, till the trail gradually levels out and you will come upon some small beaver ponds. Behind the beaver ponds, looking kind of SW, you'll see the Massive WHAM ridge on the left, and Arrow peak on the right. Camp here! There are great spots on the opposite side of these beaver ponds. From here, take the trail down to a river, the crossing of this river can be pretty hard, and it is tough to keep the trail. You may want to forge it, but we found a log FAR upstream to get across. Make your way up the main valley keeping the two peaks in sight, about 2-3 miles, but steep hiking (having a heavy pack would make this long going) until you are directly under the wham ridge (what a sight.) From this main drainage valley, head directly towards the wham up a short, but very steep hill. There are great 'vegetable' holds here, and needed, this is steep. Now you are in heaven, looking up at the wham ridge. The bottom of the wham is very choppy, meaning many grassy ledges. Keep hiking directly up the wham, until you hit solid rock. The pitch of the rock at the beginning is very small, so you can probably scramble up a few hundred feet until it begins to steepen out (we did easily). Keep in mind, you are on solid rock the whole way, so you may want to do a running belay from the beginning of the solid rock. Putting on harness etc., mid way up the solid rock with no anchors can be pretty sketchy.

Very straightforward climbing from here. Just head straight up for around 7 or so pitches of rock. The second half of the wham is really a bunch of 30 foot(or so)walls in between grassy ledges, great belay spots are abound. Just pick the path of least resistance. Trend toward the middle, and/or the right side of the face towards the end. It does WHAM you towards the end, as it steepens up quite a bit. I never put on my rock shoes the whole climb (although it was quite comforting having them in case). Great gear placements abound. Towards the very end of the climb, it steepens out, so stay towards the middle and/or the right side of the face.


From the summit, follow the main ridge easterly till you come across the descent gully. Drop down (not too much, not too little)and then trend back right toward arrow and find the saddle between arrow and vestal....done.

Rack: A standard alpine rack is all that is needed. Bring a good assortment of cams, nothing too big and bring MANY LONG slings. A 60M rope helps.

Soon to come: ARROW PEAK Trip Report. (gosh, i love this area, did i mention that..hehe)

ENJOY! let me know if you have any questions

John Raich asked:

I'll be leading a intermediate mountaineering school trip to the Grenadiers this summer and would be interested to hear about the route on the Wham Ridge. It is hard to find anything very specific in the guidebooks other that with proper route selection the difficulty shoudn't exceed 4th class or easy 5th class.

Chris Cavallaro wrote:

well put...I have done this hike before, and it is a beautiful hike with views of the Grenadier range.

I guess I would of expected the RR owners to keep the rate a little lower for those not going the whole distance from Silverton to Durango, but Kevin Craig brought up a good point, in that the increased rates shall allow for better maintenance, and thus, keeps this part of Colorado history alive..

Guess I'll 'have to' hike the extra five miles...shucks..hehe

PS. Anyone have some good info on the 5.6 NE ridge route up Arrow Peak in the Grenadiers? I have done the WHAM several times, and will never get enough of this area.

Did you know that this is the only range in Colorado that goes East to west, rather than North to south..spectacular.

Chris Cavallaro wrote:

I was recently planning a trip to the Grenadier range, and found out that they have raised all rates on this railroad to $60.00. This is a flat rate no matter if you are going from Silverton to the Elk Park drop-off (used to be $20 or so), or the whole way to Durango.

Paul Wilson wrote:

Shucks, Chris, the hike form Molas divide is very doable. Going in is a snap but the return is long. The trail leads you to the bridge at Elk Park. Give it a try. If the hike back out is too hard, just stash half your load and go to the car and come back and get it later in the day. I made it from the base of Vestal to my car by 2PM. And you all know how slow I am. I had a 60 pound pack that day which made me really slow with many rests along the way. You are correct about the area for beauty

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