West Spanish Peak
|West Spanish Peak|
West Spanish Peak from the south
|Elevation||13,626 ft (4,153 m)|
|Prominence||3,686 ft (1,123 m)|
|Location||Huerfano / Las Animas counties, Colorado, U.S.|
|Range||Culebra Range, Sangre de Cristo Mountains|
|Topo map||USGS Spanish Peaks (CO)|
|Easiest route||West Ridge: hike/scramble, class 2|
West Spanish Peak is a high mountain peak in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is the higher of the two Spanish Peaks, two large igneous stocks which form an eastern outlier of the Culebra Range, a subrange of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Though not a fourteener, it is the twelfth most topographically prominent peak in the state.
West Spanish Peak is the easternmost 4000 meter (13,626 ft) mountain peak in the United States. Due to its position well east of the Culebra Range and on the edge of the eastern plains of Colorado, West Spanish Peak enjoys great local vertical relief in almost all directions. For example, it rises over 6,000 ft (1,828 m) in less than 6.5 miles (10.5 km) on both its north and south flanks.
While the Spanish Peaks have the appearance of volcanic cones, they are actually stocks, remnants of an igneous batholith which formed underground around 25 million years ago. They are surrounded by radiating dikes, up to 14 miles (23 km) long, made of the same material.
The standard ascent route for West Spanish Peak starts at Cordova Pass, a high pass (11,248 ft; 3,428 m) to the west of the peak. It follows a trail for about 2 miles (3.2 km) to treeline. From there, there's a rough path on talus (scree) up the southwest ridge of the peak for an additional 1.5 miles (2.4 km). The trail is very braided and has a tendency to "go to the right" (which is into loose scree). If climbers stay to the left and close to the ridge, the climbing is much easier. At about 13,000' is a large shale buttress to the right that usually has a small pool of warm water at its foot. Once up on the main part of the top ridge, it's an easy hike to the actual summit. The top ridge tends to be 30–100 feet (9.1–30.5 metres) wide and is about 0.5 miles (0.80 km) long before beginning a significant downward trend on the east side of the mountain. To the north and south are very steep descents. At the summit is a large rock cairn with the usual PVC tube and "sign-in" sheet inside. This mountain is very unsafe when there is snow on the ground. Best time to climb: early June through late October. Thunderstorm and lightning activity can be high in July, August and September.