Determined to finish the 14ers this season my friend Mark and I left for the San Juans and more specifically the Wilson group. We left Denver at 10am and after multiple stops; food, beer in Avon, smash burger, and grabbing a bottle of Buffalo Trace, we arrived at the Silver Pick trailhead at sunset.
On the way to Silver Pick TH
Well the trailhead is closed until next summer because the forest service hasn't finished the new trail leading around the private property. We met with the property owner on our way back to the car and spoke with them at length about the trailhead situation. They were very nice guys and just trying to enjoy their home, it's a terrible shame that people have vandalized their cabin and vehicles.
We made it to the Navajo Lake TH at around midnight and to the lake at around 2:30am then had some whiskey and crashed hard. I woke up at 7am and promptly went back to sleep finally at noon we awoke, moved the camp above the lake, and started for Wilson Peak mindful of the darkening clouds.
Climbing up into the basin it became readily apparent that no rain or thunder were going to stop us because it was snowing!
As we reached the basin we met another climber (Greg) at his bivy spot at 12000ft and he joined our afternoon/evening summit attempt.
We thought just to the rock of ages saddle and then we would re-evaluate our summit bid.
It was snowing hard with strong winds we ducked down and tried to determine if it was worth trying. As if fate intervened the snow halted and the sun warmed us giving us a blessing to continue.
After a small detour we made it to the Wilson Peak Gladstone Peak saddle/col and rested for the climbing ahead. The weather kept bringing us small bands of snow but when we got here it seemed to have stopped.
A few class 3 ledges pick their way back up to Wilson Peak's Ridge. There was a way that avoided the difficulties but it was much lower and not nearly as fun.
Then we regained the ridge, made short work of the remainder and found ourselves quickly on the false summit. The last bit looks hard but is well cairned, the sweet downclimb to the amazing crux was well worth toughing it through the snow.
Downclimbing from the false summit
I was very cold wearing everything in my day-pack.
Then we were on top!! Only two peaks to go Mt Wilson and El Diente, both which were covered in dark clouds almost the whole day. (Tuesday)
Obligitory Bear summit shot
Gahh the only pic of all three of us :/
We saw the clouds break, a Snow Rainbow that I swear I could see myself in the shadow of Wilson Peak, and enjoyed great views of lizard head and the San Juans, truly Colorado's most impressive range. A short lived summit at 6pm we started back down, the next pics are a close look at the Crux.
Downclimbing off Wilson Peak
Close view of the Crux pitch
Midway between the False and real summits
A look back at the summit pitch (crux) from the false summit
Back on the ledges leading to the Gladstone saddle, the scrambling here is excellent! Solid rock with small exposure but good moves and spectacular settings.
Traverse back to the Wilson Peak Gladstone Peak Col
Finally the storm left the Mt Wilson El Diente ridge and we were treated to the great view of the wonderful traverse.
If only we knew what this would be like the next day...
Rock of Ages Saddle
We made it to about 11800ft before the sun was lost. Back at camp at 8:30 we were asleep quickly, readying for the El Diente to Mt Wilson Traverse in the morning what a nightmare that became...
Sunset above Navajo lake