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Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby Tim A » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:40 pm

I've just booked a trip to AZ to do some hiking/climbing in the Grand Canyon but I'm passing through Santa Fe on my way there and am considering visiting the Sangre de Christo and hiking Mt. Wheeler. If anyone has been there and would like to share an experience on it, I'd much appreciate it. I'll be there in late May, and I'm hoping it will get me a little closer to the high I'm still coming off of from having climbed Quandary this past March (my first "real" mountain hike).

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby LetsGoHigher » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:43 pm

Is that the summit?

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby ChrisinAZ » Mon Apr 02, 2012 4:33 pm

Climbed it in September during a light snowstorm, had virtually no views, but it was still a pretty easy and straightforward hike. It looks like it would be a pretty area without the clouds.

Just remember to start early, sleep somewhere high the night before (e.g., Santa Fe) to acclimatize, and do your research on the confusing road system in the ski village. You'll be fine.
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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby XMULE » Mon Apr 02, 2012 5:37 pm

Unless I miss my guess, most if not all of LetsGoHigher's links are to Wheeler Mtn in the Ten Mile Range, not Wheeler Peak (NM high pt).

I didn't do a trip report when I climbed it back in 2004 (Didn't even know there was such a thing as 14ers.com), but doubt much has changed. My 60-something buddy and I (then a mere pup at age 52) did Wheeler Peak via Bull of the Woods in late August. Left Santa Fe at oh-dark-thirty and arrived at the trailhead at first light. First part of the hike to Bull of the Woods meadow was pretty steep but very straightforward. Then gentle climb up and over Frazier Mtn and begin traversing LoCal basin. You loose some altitude there but, IMO,it's the prettiest part of the hike. Last section up to Mt Walter -- which amounts to a false summit of Wheeler -- is also very steep but, again, straightforward. Walter to Wheeler is piece of cake. On the way back down we shortcut the trail through LoCal -- probably burn in hell for it but worth bypassing the altitude loss/gain. As it was, it was a long day for us old codgers. Didn't get back to the car much before dark but it was a lovely hike. If we can do it, am sure you can with no sweat. Great views of the Sangres all the way into CO and down to Santa Fe, as well as west to Los Alamos.
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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby abqben56 » Tue Apr 03, 2012 5:56 am

There are two ways up from the ski valley. The first is Bull of the Woods, which takes off from the northeast corner of the parking lot and is a 15+ mile round trip. You can also drive through the village itself and hike up via Williams lake. The latter is a lot shorter and has perhaps 800 feet less total climbing but you miss out on a lot of views. In either case, you'll encounter some snow on the ground in the wooded areas, which could make finding the trail an issue. Lightning is unlikely but possible that early, so keep an eye out, especially if you return via BotW, where you're up high a long time.

One alternative is to go up BotW and down via Williams Lake, then back along the skier catwalk named Rubezahl from the bottom of the #4 lift along Hondo Creek.

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby MtHurd » Tue Apr 03, 2012 6:29 am

Hike about 2 miles up to just before Williams Lake from the parking lot that is about 2 miles up the road from Taos Ski Valley. There is a new trail put in last year that switchbacks directly up to the summit. Very easy hike, much easier than Quandary.

The Bull of the Woods route is longer and may involve some postholing in late May. It also has some elevation loss along the way. It's much more scenic though. You can hike the Bull of the Woods up and Williams Lake down but you would then have to hike about 2 miles on a road to get back to your vehicle.

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby LetsGoHigher » Tue Apr 03, 2012 9:29 am

XMULE wrote:Unless I miss my guess, most if not all of LetsGoHigher's links are to Wheeler Mtn in the Ten Mile Range, not Wheeler Peak (NM high pt)


My bad!!!
Is that the summit?

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby spiderman » Tue Apr 03, 2012 10:40 am

I have hiked both the Williams Lake and the Bull of the Woods routes. The Williams Lake route is much faster (about 4 hours if you are in good shape), but climbs up a slope that is steep enough to have avalanches in the winter. The Bull of the Woods is safer because you can walk along the rolling ridges, but the trail feels like it goes on for an eternity. I definitely recommend the Williams Lake route if the conditions are safe. A good route description is in Don Holmes' essential book on state highpoints.

Don't forget to tag Humphreys when you are driving past Flagsatff on the way to the Grand Canyon... it is a pretty peak and the couple of hours of extra hiking could save you a bunch of hours later on if you catch the state highpointing bug. It looks like you exhibit the necessary traits of enjoying road trips and hiking, two attributes necessary to achieve the 50 summits. BTW, the highpoints of TX, OK, KS, and NE are theoretically on your "way" back from the Grand Canyon to Colorado. IMHO, nobody has lived a full life until they have conquered the summit of Mt. Sunflower.



Barry Raven wrote:Hike about 2 miles up to just before Williams Lake from the parking lot that is about 2 miles up the road from Taos Ski Valley. There is a new trail put in last year that switchbacks directly up to the summit. Very easy hike, much easier than Quandary.

The Bull of the Woods route is longer and may involve some postholing in late May. It also has some elevation loss along the way. It's much more scenic though. You can hike the Bull of the Woods up and Williams Lake down but you would then have to hike about 2 miles on a road to get back to your vehicle.

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby MtHurd » Tue Apr 03, 2012 2:48 pm

spiderman wrote:I have hiked both the Williams Lake and the Bull of the Woods routes. The Williams Lake route is much faster (about 4 hours if you are in good shape), but climbs up a slope that is steep enough to have avalanches in the winter. The Bull of the Woods is safer because you can walk along the rolling ridges, but the trail feels like it goes on for an eternity. I definitely recommend the Williams Lake route if the conditions are safe. A good route description is in Don Holmes' essential book on state highpoints.


Avalanche danger should be gone by late May, especially this year.

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby highcomm » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:22 pm

My wife and I are climbing Wheeler Peak (New Mexico) sometime around May 16-17 if anyone would like to join us. It won't be a fast-paced hike as my wife likes to take her time. Thinking of doing Williams Lake Trail if conditions are safe. Would like info on that new route if it is available. Thanks.
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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby MtHurd » Tue Apr 03, 2012 3:30 pm

highcomm wrote:My wife and I are climbing Wheeler Peak (New Mexico) sometime around May 16-17 if anyone would like to join us. It won't be a fast-paced hike as my wife likes to take her time. Thinking of doing Williams Lake Trail if conditions are safe. Would like info on that new route if it is available. Thanks.


There is a sign that will will point you left through the trees for the new route. It is close by Williams Lake, you cannot miss it. The trail is really good. In past times it was a straight up scree slog, now it's a nice trail. You'll run into snow but considering the amount of traffic Wheeler Peak gets, you probably will have a beaten down path.

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Re: Mt. Wheeler, Highest 13er in NM

Postby semitrueskerm » Wed Apr 04, 2012 2:26 pm

Nice to hear they have put in switchbacks from the Williams Lake area. That scree slope from Williams lake is as bad of a scree patch as any 14ers I've ever climbed.

Despite it's length, I'd recomment Bull of the Woods up...and then down to Lake Williams. In my mind, there is no 14er that is like Bull of the Woods in terms of uniqueness. Yes, you lose alot of elevation, especially down into La Sal Basin, but it's pretty awesome.

The nice thing about doing the Bull - Lake Williams loop is that once you get down from Lake Williams, at the base of Chairlift #4...the first one coming out of the lake...you will come upon The Bavarian. One of my favorite spots in both winter and summer. Great beer, great food, and great outfits by the wait staff. There was nothing like kicking it up there after a full day of climbing. It's open on the weekends. From The Bavarian, you still will have to take the road down 2+ miles back to the start of the Bull of the Woods Trail, but if you make friends at the Bavarian, I'm sure you get a ride down.

Here are my pics:

https://picasaweb.google.com/113503954849826365739/090808WheelerPeak#

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