This mountain barely qualifies as a 14er – at 14,001 feet above sea level – but that won’t matter when you’re standing on top, above the clouds amid the splendor of the San Juan Mountains. It’s usually climbed in conjunction with its higher and more colorful neighbor Redcloud Peak, though there are other, less popular (think steep scree fields) routes.
- Unless you really need a bailout because of a storm, resist the urge to descend via the shoulder between Redcloud and Sunshine. The steep, loose, scree-filled gulley is no fun to go up or down.
- Take a breather on top of Sunshine, but don’t tarry too long. You have to re-climb 550 feet of Redcloud to get back to your car.
- If you have a high-clearance, four-wheel-drive vehicle, take an extra day in the San Juans to drive the Alpine Loop over Cinnamon and Engineer passes and back into Lake City. It offers a rare glimpse into the heart of what is otherwise a rugged wilderness.
Recommended season(s): Summer to early fall
—R. Scott Rappold