Devils Thumb, Indian Peaks Wilderness Reference: Gerry Roach's Indian Peaks Guide.
Et Cetera: November is probably a bad time of year to pick this climb. When you do go after it (next summer?), make sure you have a good-weather day, because you're above timberline for the entire adventure. There is absolutely no place to hide if the weather gets electric. If you pick the right day, though, you should be in for a long, beautiful excursion.
The long, laborious way is to hike in from the Hessie trailhead west of the 'town' of Eldora. That's six miles of trail plus another mile of very steep trail and (then) bushwhacking north along the divide. This might well mandate camping at Devil's Thumb Lake with all those attendant hassles.
The lazier, beautiful, enjoyable way is to drive over Berthoud Pass and continue heading for Winter Park. When a sign presents itself on the right directing you to Rollins Pass, take that road. It's dirt, but is fine for passenger cars as it's never steep (it's the old railroad grade) and is in quite good condition. Park at the summit of the pass. We bivied there.
The climb: rope up at the saddle beneath the looming north aspect of the Thumb. Head up past an old pin, left up a ramp, around the corner onto more easy climbing with amazing exposure. Belay on any of several classic ledges. You're on the east side now. Continue the up-and-left-and-up routine across the east face, then step left (onto the south face) onto a ledge with astounding exposure! This will redline your Wow-Meter! Ease up buckets to the mind-boggling summit, complete with register and f...[more]Browse More Classics in CO
By Stich From: Colorado Springs, Colorado Sep 3, 2006
The road on the West side of the Divide out of Winter Park is called Corona Pass Road and is on a brown sign on your right after you start leaving town. From the East side, the road is called Rollins Pass. There is a collapsing tunnel joining the two roads, which is why the pass is closed to cars. From the East you can take a small switchback up just before the closed tunnel. You could sneak through the tunnel, but why do that? It's spooky and dark in there!
You can easily average 15-20 mph in a 4 X 4 on either road and it is 15 miles to the trailhead if you are on Corona Pass. Once at the trailhead, take the High Lonesome trail and go up three rises and go down three alpine grassy meadows. The trail will stay well down from the ridge on your right. Once going down into the third meadow, you'll begin to see the Thumb on your right.
We made an attempt at Devil's Thumb last weekend. We came in from Tabernash and started at the Devil's Thumb TH. You can reach the TH from either Winter Park or Tabernash, and it can be slightly confusing to which roads you need to take. Have a map if you choose to come in from Tabernash (Google did the trick for us). The hike is beautiful and well-defined. We spent the night at treeline. The next day we headed towards the Thumb.
There is a large gully between the ridge you top out on and the Thumb itself (this is where the Devil's Thumb Trail and Rollins/Corona Pass trails intersect). We crossed the gully and took an obvious ramp up and right towards the notch. We roped up for this as we had an inexperienced climber with us. However, at the end of the traverse a 60-70 rappel is needed to gain the notch. There is a large horn that could have been slung for the rap, but the rain and hail came in and we had to bail. I am not sure if this is the "normal" approach to the Thumb or if other parties go up and around the gully to the east side and go in that way. The West side approach is technically very easy, but quite exposed, use your judgment if you need a rope or not.
Has anyone ever done or attempted any route on the south face, that is north and to the east of The Thumb? It looks to be about 600' vertical, leading up to The Thumb, and to broken summits, east of The Divide. I cannot find any info on anyone having climbed it, but I continuously think of putting something up there. It's remote, but it looks to be beautiful stone for the Indian Peaks.
Man o man.... This was my first alpine tower.... The Exposure is epic right from the start.... Since we went high above the notch and then downclimbed the eastern side and then traversed over to the notch (5.3x, 5.4x), a fall from the eastern side would surely end you, but only after a bounce, maybe two.... The beta photo with the blue line is great, but you had better have some cojones, 'cause it is a very spicy approach to the notch belay point. I would recommend roping up on either approach side (east and west) to get to the notch belay point. Also climbing shoes make this more comfortable. I thought that a 5.6 alpine route would be fine... it was, but the approach put me in my place and had me on edge even before the actual climb.
EPIC views, EPIC EXPOSURE. One of my favorite climbs so far, partially because of the beautiful scenery, and partially because of the exposure.
Be careful when climbing the Thumb itself.... Nothing like a big stack of slightly loose rocks for a great alpine tradventure.