I know this traverse has been done and reported on, but Aaron and I took a path perhaps less traveled so I thought I might share. (Want to throw it out that Boggy B came up with the route but was unable to join. Climbing badass peaks in Peru and returning to CO on Wednesday I guess does not sit too well with your body.)
After a Saturday filled with running and mountains on our respective outings, Aaron and I met up in Silverthorne under a stormy sky. On the agenda was the Williams Traverse (aka the Billy Traverse) so pump up those early 90 Air Jordan’s, turn that pink and teal meshed hat backwards and shoulder that boombox high, its time to hustle, CO style!
A 3:45 am start was in store for this to beat the monsoon weather so naturally we started at the dewy early hour of 5:40 am after a few too many Murphy's and Dale's the night prior.
The plan was to hit the east ridge of Williams Mountain so we hiked up the Lost Man Trail to the split for South Fork Pass and headed west towards Sioux Lake.
View of the east ridge on the right and Williams Mountain
Me on the ridge
Aaron on the Ridge
The east ridge had some enjoyable scrambling and was a great intro to a day packed with gendarmes, deep notches, airy traverses, and solid/unsolid class 4, low 5th scrambling (whatever that means). Lets just say a lot of "damns" and "not this way! Hows your way look?" were tossed around all day long.
On the south ridge of Williams Mountain looking towards the summit
Williams Mountain North from Williams Mountain
The descent off Williams’ North ridge is quite steep and has a North Maroon feel to it sans the red. North would be the easiest peak of the day once the saddle gendarmes were negotiated. It also had a summit register dating back to 1990 with 1 maybeeee 2 names that popped out so it was definitely neat putting our names down next to those who came before us.
View of Williams' North Ridge
View of a Gendarme bypassed on the way to north but accidently climbed on the way back
Wicked climbing on the aforementioned gendarme
With Williams mountain being so rugged and steep on both sides of the summit, we were forced to reclimb the mountain (which was awesome!). We then made our way to the 3rd summit of the day with already quite a few miles and vert under our belts.
View towards Williams Mountain B from the south ridge of Williams
The ridge connecting these two proved to be the most time consuming and difficult part of the day. It is littered with notches and prominent gendarmes. Excuse the language, but perhaps half way through as Aaron and I came across yet another serious notch, I exclaimed, "Man, this ridge does not d*ck around!"
Almost to the saddle between Willams and B
More fun climbing except this time on the looser side
Aaron signaling for a hitch back to the car on a traverse that doesn't look bad here but was quite serious
Topping out the 3rd summit of the day, we had absolutely no recollection of how we had gotten there but we were grinning from ear to ear despite the taxing nature of the ridge. Next up, the 4th summit of the day which would entail yet more scrambling.
View towards Williams Mtn A on the far right
South Ridge of Williams Mtn B, what we descended
Aaron out on a stroll in the park
You still putting up bricks? What is this a masons convention? Clang!! Clang!!
View towards the final, 5th peak of the day
Up to this point, Aaron and I had literally not taken a break longer than 5 minutes (our less than ideal start time had us worried it would come back to bite us) so at the saddle to Willaims Mountain South C we finally hit the air brakes and took a much deserved breather. It was at this point that Aaron decided 4 was sufficient and leaving the most southern one would be easy to come back and do later. When a dude like Aaron says he has had a little too much it makes you stop and think, maybe I have too...much respect Aaron!
Hey, what do you know, more gendarmes!
The gendarmes to South C were much more easily bypassed on the east face and no deep notches were encountered.
A look back at the ridge, green arrow is Williams Mountain North!!
Stats on the Ride:~15.5 miles with ~6400’ vert, little over 12 hours roundtrip
Overall, this ridge really delivered! Some comparisons that come to mind in terms of length and difficulty are Elingwood Ridge (although notches plentiful, I don't think they are as problematic as the ones we encountered) and North Grand Traverse to Snow Peak (much more straight forward). Furthermore (speak of the devil), we both agreed that Williams Mountain is definitely high up on our list of favorite 13ers, especially since we got to climb its East, South and North Ridge!
Tread Lightly my Friends!