| El Diente - West Ridge revisited
Last week I posted a report of getting stormed off the El Diente West Ridge. Since pictures of the lower part of the ridge are posted there, I will pick up this report where that one leaves off. The only new information I have is that when approaching the West Ridge, the Roach guide suggests going to the West end of Navajo Lake and doing a long gradual traverse over scree to the ridge proper. I did that last week and didn't care for it. A nice alternative, and one that took about 30 minutes off the time it took to get to the ridge, is to go just about 1/10 of a mile past the trail intersection with the Woods Lake trail. A sign here says 3/4 mile to Navajo Lake. The trail descends steeply for a while after the sign. When it levels out, look for an animal trail to the creek, cross and head straight up. In a short while you will come out of the trees and be on the scree just slightly east of where you want to be.
On this attempt we camped again at the Navajo Lake trailhead. In our usual fashion, we got an early alpine start, about 7:30 a.m. The day seemed like the weather would cooperate, but by 11:00 there were some nasty looking clouds about and we ducked behind a ridge while a brief snow squall passed by. Seeing mostly clear skys to the west, but hearing thunder to the east, we pressed on.
The first real difficulty was bypassed dropping to the N side of the ridge past one of the very few cairns marking this interesting route. This was one of the trickier sections where trying to stay on the ridgecrest turned out to be unwise. After a while we scrambled around to the S side again and found this lovely section to climb.
After this section there was some very interesting climbing traversing right on what might be the most technically challanging bit. I brought a 100' length of 7 mil rope and a couple slings for anchors and used it several times to belay Elly past some of the steeper pitches.
About 1/2 way througth the difficulties of the ridge we took these pictures looking both ways.
Looking back gave a nice sense of accomplishment.
But looking ahead it seemed like there was much more to be done. In fact, from here the climb went quite quickly and it was much less difficult than it appeared.
For the most part the route stays on the S side of the ridge. There is a very prominent gray gully. Once you find yourself here you are nearly finished. Access the ridge by this gully and finish on the ridge proper or just to the N side. The next image is looking down this gully.
And then from the same vantage looking back down the ridge.
And looking up toward the summit after exiting the gray gully.
When you see the dayglow green moss it is an easy scramble to the top, just a few minutes away.
Elly on the summit with Mt. Wilson in the background.
And me looking a little too relaxed.
I had done the traverse from Mt. Wilson to El Diente years ago and descended the North Slope of El D. so this would be the first time going the other way on the ridge. I remembered most of the route, but had forgotten the descent at the end before getting to Mt. Wilson. Getting up from the low spot between Mt. Wilson and the El D traverse proved a little trickier than expected, especially since we were not prepared for any snow travel. When we finally did top out and could look across to see Wilson Peak I realized I had left my camera somewhere down below. I will remember the route better now, having done that 300 vertical feet three times in succession.
At 5:30 p.m. we decided we might as well get on top of Mt. Wilson again. It was only about 10 minutes up from where we would begin our descent back into Navajo Basin.
It turned out to be a beautiful evening. Here is a look back at the descent from Mt. Wilson from high up in Navajo Basin.
This next picture has nothing to do with the climb, but I thought it was cool.
Heading home past Navajo Lake.
And a final look up at the West Ridge of El Diente.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):