El Diente_Mt Wilson_Wilson Peak from Rock of Ages TH
Most simply I feel like climbing 14er traverses creates the proper life content. Had read the trip report from Mtn_Topper climbing two weeks prior, loaded his .gpx, appended with pins from rout write ups here. I left Littleton around noon for a six hour trip the Rock of Ages TH bound. Driving along one gets greeted by what is most spectacular in Colorado – nature, rock formation, altitude helped closeness to the outer space. After 15 years made a stop to “breathe in” the views at the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Geologically these are the younger parts of our state (refer to the Geology part on the site). Sun was setting as I drove through Ridgway and left onto 62. Immediately up the hill and your next day’s “dance floor” emerges to the left
First glimpse into the next day.
. Around some corners and off 145 making a right puts you were you will leave your vehicle soon. Caution: spring melts for low sitting 2WDs can make is challenging to cross about 10 ft wide river a couple miles down from the TH.
Slept in the car waking up to now classic “there is someone sleeping in the car” with 1000 lumens of headlamp straight into your eyes. Did not reciprocated later stopping the madness. Overkill prepared with proper layer clothing, ice axe, helmet, micro spikes, food (for every 30 minutes energy gel, every 2hrs protein bar, and every 15-20minutes deep sips of water with doses of electrolytes sips as well. The 14ers.com editors here are dead SERIOUS stating “Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death.”This will be key to enjoy 17hrs of hiking/climbing and 10.5K elevation gain.
At 3:40AM was departure time through forest to the super moon setting over El Diente
Super Moon over where El Diente is.
. Once out of the forest you are on rock highway path that used to haul carts with silver ore. There are several snow fields still in June and using the ice axe will prevent you from possible steep and abrupt elevation loss. Same is true coming back you will need it all the way until tree line (I am talking June conditions). I saw three hikers/climbers later in the day and one without ice exe had a long day on these very short stretches of June snow fields having to walk around adding easily avoidable elevations gain and distance. My .gpx recorded my trail mistake loosing trail and having to go up on less than desirable terrain there.
By sunrise the Wilsons universe opened up upon summiting the Rock of Ages Saddle
Down to the bottom of Navajo Basin on perfect trail. The alley up NE couloirs to El Diente was quite inviting. After some 300 feed you get to “dress” up for climb proper, the alpine style – crampons (I was a tiny bit underequipped with micro spikes), ice axe, helmet. As you very quickly gain elevation the tendency is to look up rather than behind for obvious terrain and traction reasons.
On top of the couloirs I met other hikers/climbers. To my surprise a fellow climber with whom we went out Pyramid last year – small community we are and must feel the same rocky vibrations calling. Gloves were my best friend on the southern slopes of El Diente and the traverse to Mt Wilson
Traverse took us (two parties I joined Justin and Rob), there was a couple from Grand Junction and a girl (Jen) with her climbing companions David and Jason. Quick look back to El diente
Looking back to El Diente off Mt Wilson.
. Safety greeting to most and solo/alpine style again down to Navajo Basing looking ~ 2K feet. Life was at its most elaborate exhibition in the basin with slew of wild flowers, rushing over rocks river, doing their business marmots, and bathing birds.
Live at Navajo Basin.
. Returning to the Rock of Ages Saddle put me on the last stretch to Wilson Peak with in the shade, dark East side. I made some mistakes going up way too high on the rocky summit. It made me descend terrain I should not have with the constant feeling of my knees against the chest and getting to watch my fingers, heels, and tows exclusively for several minutes until I rejoined proper trail along the east side of the mountain. I dressed up it was getting colder and darker by now. The trail took me to the point
Very private with Willson Peak.
when assessed one other climber (Jen) called "@$%#$%^!", very accurately. Looking at it I ate and drank some again. Another 30 minutes or so had the honors to breathe in the 14er air once again. Now, Ed Viesturs words clearly came to my awareness that getting to the top is optional getting down is mandatory. Down like a falling leaf, most important step of my life after another most important step of my life I lost altitude and ended up in the marmot field. Stopping I purified more water adding more Propel and downing another protein bar with energy gel (yes I was well overkill prepared). Sitting down a marmot came right up
Willing listener to the story.
…good I could debrief the story to a sympathetic eyes. She grabbed my glove with sugar/protein coated fingers and tried to down it which made me simple take it over. Sun set and I was back
10.5K elevation gain behind.
by the car at the same moment ready to cook some meal with JetBoil and head back to Littleton all the same compressed as if weeks day….safe, overkill prepared climbing to each…these mountain have been “waiting” for some 250 million years
My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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