| Great day for a finisher, unfortunately not mine
Left Trailhead – 2:30am
Second Saddle – 6:30am (ish)
Summit – 8:00am (ish)
Trailhead – 1:30pm (ish)
As a side note, I think that I should advertise myself as a finisher good luck charm. This was my second hike accompanying finishers in 3 weeks.
Andrew (ROO) and Dan (Judge K) don't post much on 14ers.com, but if you have met them on the trail, I suspect you remember them. They are some of the nicest, most generous hikers I have come across. I began hiking with them last summer in Chicago Basin, and have been fortunate to join them on Snowmass and Culebra this year.
This trip report really begins at around 1:30pm on 8/24/2010. We (Andrew, Dan, their friend Debbie, and I) had just completed the El Diente to Mt. Wilson traverse, and were hoping for the trifecta. There had been weather all morning, but nothing too threatening. We were all tired, but after coming down Wilson's NE ridge, we began hiking up to the Rock of Ages saddle, and over to the second saddle. This was our view west into the Navajo Basin
Not 10 feet after leaving the saddle, we heard thunder. Immediately Andrew and Dan suggested we turn around and head down. This is a good representation of both of these men's characters. We were giving up a finishing summit only a mile away, and committing ourselves to another 16 mile round trip to get this one. We arrived back at the Kilpacker Trailhead at 3:30pm after 15 hours of hiking. We agreed to meet back at the Navajo Trailhead on Wednesday evening for our second attempt at Wilson Peak.
We set off again at 2:30am on Thursday. It was hard to wake up that early, knowing exactly what was ahead of us for most of the next 7 miles. Given that, we made good time up into the basin, turning off the headlamps just at the old mine building and cart.
We made our way across the Rock of Ages saddle at first light
And worked our way across the rock and dirt toward the second saddle
Reaching the second saddle right at sunrise, approximately 6:30am
We adjusted gear, stashed poles, and soon began across the high traverse of the slope. Not long after leaving the saddle, the fun begins. Here we are getting warmed up to the class 3 traverse.
There are a lot of ledges on this part of the traverse, and a few fun slabby moves.
There was decent exposure, with a lot of puller rocks just waiting for the unsuspecting hand.
All too quickly, the fun class 3 traverse ended, and we had a regular traverse across a broad gully. With the sun in our eyes, we couldn't really spot the trail or any cairns, so just picked our way across.
By now, we had found some cairns and some trail segments, and worked our way across an ascending traverse.
That seemed to go on and on
As you can see, there is a lot of loose rock, with some dirt trail segments here and there.
As we gained elevation, the trail improved and made the climb much easier.
At some point, the trail crossed to the north side of the mountain, and continued up on loose dirt and semi-stable rock
We crossed the false summit and looked over at the final pitch. From the false summit, it looks intense, but from the bottom of the pitch, it looks fun. Here we are coming down from the false summit
I held back and took some shots of the crew climbing the small gully on the right side. Here they are entering the gully.
Maybe about half way up
Almost to the top
And they are back on the ridge
After they had planted in secure spots, I made my way up the gully. It was fun climbing, on mostly solid rock. I leapfrogged the group to keep the photos coming; here they are coming out of the gully and beginning up the final ridge pitch
The crew working their way up the ridge. I was a bit surprised at how much climbing there was above the gully
Andrew and Dan took the lead at this point, working their way up the ridge
And Debbie coming up as well. Debbie is a very solid climber who appears to be fearless.
Up on top, it is still a bit to the summit. The two finishers about to clean up
No more new Colorado 14er summits for these two
And the entire crew on top. We had champagne, cheese, and crackers as well as our normal summit snacks.
We spent about 1 hr on top, enjoying the fine weather. Ultimately, the 8 miles back down were calling, so we started off the top.
Coming down the small gully was easy enough. Only about one stretch move, that Debbie is handling easily.
And back up to the false summit.
After the false summit, we were careful to keep our A game. There was plenty of loose rock, steep traverses, and here and there some amazingly fun class 3 moves to keep us on point. We didn't really relax until we were back at the mine building, where we drank more champagne, did pushups to prove our manliness (and womanliness), and took photos in the mine cart, which is not as stable as it looks.
After that break, we numbed our minds to the walk back down the basin and back to the trailhead. At one point, Andrew and Dan paused to give a last look at their final 3 summits.
We made it back to the car at 1:30pm, changed clothes, snacked, and then were on our way. I headed back to Montrose to catch a flight; the others to Durango for a celebration dinner.
A very well deserved congratulations to Andrew and Dan; it has been great sharing some summits with you.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):