| Mt. Wilson...East Face
Trailhead...Cross Mtn (10,000')
Route...Cross Mtn Trail to Slate Creek to East Face
Mileage...13 - 14 miles
Elevation Gain...about 4700'
I have a few trip reports to send out that I think have some good information about possible winter routes and conditions. Not feeling much like writing, so they will be mostly pictures. Here is the first one from Mt. Wilson.
The goal was to summit Mt. Wilson via the "moderate snow climb" on the east face, continue over to El Diente via the traverse, and then retrace my route back to the Cross Mountain Trailhead. I tried this same route last winter on my skis and set off a pretty substantial slide above Slate Creek before turning around. Needless to say, I proceeded with caution.
Here is the view of the Wilson Group after the 2 hour approach from the Cross Mtn TH. You basically follow the Cross Mtn Trail to 11,000'...then hike 2 miles through the trees trying to stay as level as possible...then drop down to 10,800' when you see Slate Creek open up on your left. This is one of those sections that defies gravity...like the picture of the stairs that keep going up, but connect to each other. It feels like you are walking uphill in both directions. Because of downed trees, uneven terrain and a couple of awesome small meadows that call for you to walk through them, it's hard not to gain a few hundred feet here.
Looking back at the Evil Forest of Torture from Slate Creek. The Slate Creek drainage is one of the greatest places in Colorado. Even if you aren't going to climb a peak, it's worth the effort for the views you get of Gladstone, Lizard Head and Mt. Wilson.
Lower part of the route...sticking to ridges and rock outcroppings wherever possible
Middle part of the route...at this point I was really starting to regret the previous day's climb of Sunshine & Redcloud and realized that I wouldn't have the time or the strength to complete the traverse. This turned out to be a good thing. Now I could just concentrate on Mt. Wilson and stop stressing about the unknowns on the traverse...snow conditions, would my rope be long enough, how long would it take me, etc.
Boxcar Couloir...I think? Thought about taking this line, but didn't like the bailout options if the snow was bad.
You have to get all the way up into the valley to finally see the east face. I really didn't think the odds of a successful climb were in my favor until I got this view. I could see a good amount of rock and the snow looked nice and firm.
Time to switch to crampons
The steepness comes and goes on the snow leading to the summit rocks. It starts steep...levels off...and then gets steep again near the top. I was getting tired of walking on snow so I decided to take a more interesting option near the top. This is my attempt at drawing my route up the rocks. I would say it's an even mix of class 3, 4 and low 5...through in some snow and ice and you get a pretty tough finish to this climb.
When I wasn't gawking at Gladstone...I was looking up at this. Hard to tell where to go with veiws like this. I figured up was the best bet.
Looking back down from around 14,000'
At 11:45am I topped out a short distance from the summit.
Balancing act on the highest rock on Mt. Wilson. This is harder than it looks...especially for someone that is balance challenged.
El Diente and the traverse. It was hard to see this and not give it a go. I wanted it so bad. I just didn't have enough left in the tank. And I really didn't like the idea of hiking out of Slate Creek in the dark. Oh well...it's not going anywhere.
I thought this spot was amazing. I sat down here for a while, ate my lunch, listened to the water, and didn't think about work.
There's slate in that creek.
The trip back through the trees was brutal and beautiful.
Back at the jeep around 3pm...safe and sound.
The same can't be said for my jeep. On my drive back to Ridgway, my rear differential blew apart. Luckily I have a couple great friends in Ridgway. They drove an hour from their house to pick me up near Telluride. Then they drove me all the way back to Monarch Pass on Sunday morning where my wife picked me up. Thanks Harry and Anna!! Love you guys. That was 15 days ago. It is still in a garage in Montrose waiting for parts.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):