Vestal Peak & Wham Ridge 

YDS: 5.4 R

10 Pitches, 2000′ Grade III

Come experience this iconic peak with one of the AMGA Certified Alpine Guides of KMG.  Wham Ridge is really the north face of Vestal Peak.  This peak is one of the highest peaks in the Grenadiers, a subset of the San Juan Mountains in Southwestern, CO.  With climbing from low fifth class up to 5.7, this classic alpine climb should be on every climbers list.

Our route up Jagged Peak goes up the Wham Ridge.  With 1,500 ft of climbing from low fifth class to 5.7, there is climbing for everybody. From the summit we walk off the backside, swoop around to the west and the Arrow Peak/ Vestal Peak saddle and back to our camp.



We choose to access Vestal Peak and the Wham Ridge utilizing the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad (D&SNGR).  By utilizing the D&SNGR we can cut our approach to Vestal Basin to five miles.  This historic train has been in continuous operation between Durango and Silverton since July 1882,  Let it haul you into the rugged and remote San Juan Mountains for our Vestal Peak climb.


Price Includes

  • AMGA Certified Alpine Guide or AMGA Certified Rock Guide  (depending on program)
  • Group climbing equipment (ropes, harnesses, all other technical climbing equipment, climbing shoes, first aid kits)
  • Group camping equipment (tents, stoves, etc)

Price Does NOT Include

  • Guide gratuity
  • Train tickets if applicable / transportation to trailhead
  • Personal clothing or gear
  • Personal snacks
  • Travel to Durango, Colorado from your location.
  • Hotels before and after trip
  • Recommended Travel/trip cancelation insurance.


  • Climbing Boots: Good alpine climbing boots such as the La Sportiva Trango Tower GTX and La Sportiva TX 4 are both ideal for this program.
  • Socks: Two pairs of mid weight wool socks
  • Synthetic boxers or briefs: Cotton does not dry or insulate when wet. Underwear should be synthetic. Two pairs will suffice
  • Softshell Climbing Pants: The Patagonia Alpine Guide Pants  work well. You will be wearing these everyday while on the mountain. Regardless of the brand they should be non-insulated Schoeller-type fabric.
  • Wicking t-shirt: Synthetic wicking t-shirt.
  • Long Sleeve base layer: Mid Weight synthetic, wool, or silk top. Patagonia Men’s Cap 3 works well.
  • Sweater Layer: This is layer should fit over both of the two previous layers. The Patagonia R1 hoody is wonderful.
  • Softshell Jacket: Like the softshell bottoms, this is your go-to jacket that will be worn the most. The Outdoor Research Alibi jacket is what we’re wearing this season.
  • Hardshell Jacket: This should be extremely lightweight and packable. Something like the Patagonia M10.
  • Insulated Parka w/hood: Our route and camp keeps us at high elevation for the duration of the trip.  A mid weight down or synthetic parka with hood will suffice.
  • Wool or fleece hat: Make sure it covers your ears.
  • Light weight liner gloves: Light-weight synthetic gloves. Please not fingerless. When it’s hot on the glacier, these are a great weight.
  • Sun Glasses: These should be good dark sunglasses. The Smith Guide’s Choice are great.

Camping Equipment

  • Pocket Knife: A Leatherman or Swiss Army knife work great.
  • Headlamp: Bring one set of extra batteries. The Petzl Tikka XP2 and Black Diamond Storm with both light up your night.
  • Insulated Mug: Some sort of insulated mug for coffee, coco, etc. Check out either the Alladin insulated mugs. or the Klean Canteens with the cafe cap.
  • Plastic bowl and spork: Tupperware with a lid. A spork is the more versatile than a spoon and fork.
  • Camera
  • Personal Toiletries & Medications: Prescription medications, ibuprofen, small package of moleskin for blisters, etc. Ear plugs are great for in the tent
  • Water bottles or hydration system: 2 liters capacity. Wide mouth and no Camelback/hydration bags.
  • Sleeping pad: Full length inflatable or closed foam.
  • Sleeping Bag: Down or synthetic rated to between zero and 15 degrees. Make sure it has a compression sack.
  • Backpack: A 45-60 liter pack is the recommended size for this climb. It is imperative that your backpack is large enough and tough enough to handle the load. A separate summit pack is not needed. We recommend the Cilo Gear 45 Worksack. This is a true alpine climbing pack. It is extremely lightweight and versatile for it’s size. An added bonus, Cilo also stitches all their packs in Portland, OR!

Climbing Equipment

  • Harness: A comfortable mountaineering harness that will fit over all your layers. The Camp Flash Alpine is our current alpine harness of choice. It is both light weight and will fit under your pack belt. In addition, the diaper style harness will allow you to put it on and take it off with large boots or crampons on.
  • Locking Carabiners: 2 locking carabiners. The Camp HMS Nitro is an extremely light weight and versatile locking carabiner. (extra credit if you know what HMS stands for….) The Camp Photon Screw Gate screw gate is an other extremely light weight locker.
  • Non-locking carabiners: 2 non-locking carabiners. We recently fell in love with and recommend the Camp Photon Wire Gate. This is an extremely light weight and large opening carabiner.
  • Climbing Helmet: Must be CE certified and designed for climbing. Check out the Camp Speed or Camp Storm are both for a very comfortable and light weight option. You will be wearing this helmet a lot, so you want it to be both comfortable and fit well under your jacket hood.
  • Trekking poles: Three section ski poles such as the Leki Tour Stick Vario packs down extremely small. This is paramount for when we are climbing the ice pitches on the upper mountain.
  • Nylon runner: This needs to be a 48 inch nylon runner.
  • Belay Device: Tube style belay device. We like the Camp PIU 2


  • Climbers should be in great physical condition.
  • There are dozens of climbs with different difficulties in the Black. Please get in touch with us to talk about what climb is right for you. If need be, we would like to climb with you prior to climbing in the Black to help ensure that you are up to the challenge
  • If you do not possess these skills or need review, we recommend doing a skills course with us in Colorado or Utah prior to your alpine trip to Silverton, CO.


  • Day 0:  Gear check and prep day.  This will only take 1 hour.  We will conduct this at Backcountry Experience in Durango.
  • Day 1: Depart Durango at 8:00 for Beartown trailhead.  Hike into camp at Leviathan Basin.
  • Day 2:  Climb Vestal Peak via the Wham Ridge route. 
  • Day 3: Hike out and drive back

Registration & Cancelation

  • Unfortunately, due to extremely high demand we have a very strict registration and cancelation policy. We can not transfer you to an other program. WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND PURCHASING TRAVEL INSURANCE! We recommend the TravelEx Insurance Travel Select plan with the Adventurer Plus Pak upgrade.
  • To reserve your spot on a domestic climbing a 50% deposit if applying more than 60 days out. If your trip/ course starts in less than 60 days please submit full payment.
  • Program fees are non-transferable.
    If notice of cancellation is given in writing at least 60 days prior to the trip start date, you will be refunded your fulldeposit except for a $50 processing fee.
  • If notice of cancellation is given in writing within 59 – 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to the deposit amount will be charged. If notice of cancellation is given in writing less than 30 days prior to the trip start date, a cancellation fee equal to 100% of the program fee will be charged.


Custom dates available upon request


3 days


1:1 – $1,450                          2:1 – $950pp                        *prices based on standard itinerary; add $500 for additional overnight

Client to Guide Ratio

up to 2:1 climber to guide ratio