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Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

14ers in California and Washington state or any other peak in the USA
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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby emcee smith » Wed Oct 05, 2011 6:38 am

I was on Wheeler Peak last Sunday. Looks like they are getting weather this week, so conditions could be different. When we went, there was no snow on the trail. If you stick to the trail, and carry microspikes or yaktrax, I can't imagine that any snow this week would be a hindrance. The trail is very easy class 1 most of the way. The ridge variant mentioned does not have a trail, would be a little dicey in the snow, but is pretty easy just to follow the ridge.

1. I'm looking at Bull-of-the-Woods Trailhead. Does it require 4wd? Or is it paved? Or somewhere in between? Will I need high clearance? The trailhead is right at the ski area (stay left at the big sign, and then when it forks again, park on the right. The trailhead is about 50 - 100 yards up the left fork road. This left fork road is also where you will come out if you take the shortcut down to Williams lake and end up walking down the road. If you park there, it is 2wd, and paved until the big sign.

3. Any information on recent conditions? Websites that might provide such info? Summitpost has some good information. The trail up from BOTW trailhead is easy, a bit rough for the first few hunred yards. You can opt for the horse variant or go straight up. Once you get near the saddle, and the route turns right, you will be on roads for a ways (stick to the most travelled looking road/trail). After you leave the road, the trail is easy to follow the rest of the way. As to the ridge variant to avoid La Cal(Sal) basin, it is moderately fun class 2 hiking, but probably won't save any time, and maybe not really any elevation loss since there are a few ups and downs on that as well. Note here; if you are tired after the few ups and downs of the ridge direct, there is a left cutoff trail about 200 feet below the top of the ridge that will join the standard trail at the saddle. Not much reason to go up and over unless you just like sub-summits. The ridge is pretty cool hiking though, and a nice option after walking on roads/easy trail for a few hours. I took the Williams Lake trail down from the summit (between Wheeler and Walter) and it was pretty steep. If you have poles, not a problem, but a bit loose in places. It probably was quicker, but not necessarily easier than going back the way you came, as the BOTW trail is so easy you can fly back down.
"Chug a luggin up one side, glidin down the other, [I'm] a lover of the other side of the hill"

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Thu Oct 06, 2011 7:20 pm

abqben56 wrote:Just to clarify, the BOTW trailhead is at the end of the main parking lot of the ski area. The other road is well graded but might pose issues for a regular car if there's ice.

The forecast is for a storm to blow in Thursday and to linger, so there's likely to be some snow up there, probably not much but you never know for sure. The Taos Ski Valley webcam of Kachina Peak (~12500) shows a few patches of snow right now.

You can actually avoid the road if you go up BOTW and down Williams lake by following the ski catwalk (Rubezahl) along Hondo Creek from the bottom of the Kachina lift down to the main lift. For what it is, it's pretty scenic.

+1 on the Stray Dog. Orlando's at the north end of Taos is also a favorite of mine and not far from where you rejoin 522.



Hello abqben56, if you wouldn't mind, can you post an update of conditions in the area? Did you get much snow? What are your thoughts on Wheeler for a Sunday hike?

Thanks.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby abqben56 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 8:50 am

sad2 wrote:
Hello abqben56, if you wouldn't mind, can you post an update of conditions in the area? Did you get much snow? What are your thoughts on Wheeler for a Sunday hike?

Thanks.


http://skitaos.org/content/webcams

I'm actually in Albuquerque, 110 miles to the south, and can't see the mountains for the clouds. What I'm seeing from the Taos Ski Valley webcam is a few inches on the ground at 12K (middle image) that weren't there a couple of days ago. The forecast up there is for up to 8 inches tonight, with a 20% chance of precip Sunday (hopefully cold enough to be snow and not rain). Not much wind, but that might not be the case up on the ridge.

I'd hesitate to recommend either way, not knowing your level of experience with these conditions. BotW is a significant hike under the best of conditions...your call. Personally, I don't have to make a decision since I'll be watching balloons with the inlaws. :wink:

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby MtHurd » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:04 am

Red River is getting snow right now.

http://www.redriver.org/pages/webcam/high

Weather doesn't look too bad on Sunday, but the weather forecast for Saturday is calling for 5 to 9 inches of snow above 7500 ft.

Wheeler will be a snow climb all the way from the trailhead to the summit. It's probably going to be the wet heavy variety. Microspikes would probably work but I'd say bring an axe too as the trail won't be visible and it's possible to get on some steep stuff if you can't find the trail.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:19 pm

Thanks for the updates. I will push the hike out to the following weekend or next summer.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby abqben56 » Fri Oct 07, 2011 9:45 pm

sad2 wrote:Thanks for the updates. I will push the hike out to the following weekend or next summer.


Based on the weather we're getting now, that's a good call.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby csuram » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:39 am

We did Wheeler yesterday after driving down to Taos Friday afternoon. The weather was less than desirable and we opted for a hotel room rather than a tent. Looking at the weather forecast Saturday night for Sunday, we decided to attempt Wheeler on Sunday. Walking out of the room Sunday morning we saw the mountains still covered in clouds-definitely not motivating! We left from the TH shortly after 10. There was definitely a lot of snow and we were very happy to be joined by 2 threesomes to help break trail. Through the team effort, we were able to summit in just under 3.5 hours. Down low the trail was well marked w/blue hashes but they dissappeared right before the switchback across the gully. Closer to the top we were able to find the trail, after postholing through knee to thigh deep snow in many locations. Visibility came and went and it was cold and windy at the summit. We did the return hike in 1 hour 47 minutes and it was much more enjoyable. Sad2 you should have joined us! Upon the recommendation of the trio from Sante Fe, we ate at the Bavarian at the TH. It was one of the best meals we had, but unfortuntately the Bav closed last night until Thanksgiving. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you're there when it's open!
Although I was very hesitant to begin this hike, it was one of the best days I've had!
(I tried to post some pics but they're too big. I'm not smart enough to know how to resize :( )
"The great thing in this world is not so much where we are, but in what direction we are moving" -Oliver Wendall Holmes

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby MtHurd » Mon Oct 10, 2011 9:57 am

csuram wrote:(I tried to post some pics but they're too big. I'm not smart enough to know how to resize :( )


Right click on the pic and select Open With/Choose Program. Click on Microsoft Office Picture Manager and then click on OK. From the menu at the top, select Picture/Resize. Click on the "Percentage of original width x height" circle. Click on the lower arrow until the first number on the New size = 800. As long as the second number is less than 800 the picture should be small enough to post. Click OK to finish. Before you do all these steps, make a copy of the original because once you make the picture smaller you can't make it bigger again without losing quality.

I would love to see some pics.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby sad2 » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:05 am

csuram wrote:We did Wheeler yesterday after driving down to Taos Friday afternoon. The weather was less than desirable and we opted for a hotel room rather than a tent. Looking at the weather forecast Saturday night for Sunday, we decided to attempt Wheeler on Sunday. Walking out of the room Sunday morning we saw the mountains still covered in clouds-definitely not motivating! We left from the TH shortly after 10. There was definitely a lot of snow and we were very happy to be joined by 2 threesomes to help break trail. Through the team effort, we were able to summit in just under 3.5 hours. Down low the trail was well marked w/blue hashes but they dissappeared right before the switchback across the gully. Closer to the top we were able to find the trail, after postholing through knee to thigh deep snow in many locations. Visibility came and went and it was cold and windy at the summit. We did the return hike in 1 hour 47 minutes and it was much more enjoyable. Sad2 you should have joined us! Upon the recommendation of the trio from Sante Fe, we ate at the Bavarian at the TH. It was one of the best meals we had, but unfortuntately the Bav closed last night until Thanksgiving. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you're there when it's open!
Although I was very hesitant to begin this hike, it was one of the best days I've had!
(I tried to post some pics but they're too big. I'm not smart enough to know how to resize :( )


Glad to hear your trip went well. So how much snow was on the ground? About 2 feet around 12,000 feet? Did you take the standard route?

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby whoopi_cat » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:48 am

csuram:

A photographer friend of mine recently said that the William's Lake trail (6 miles round-trip, but formerly very loose) had been fully improved.

Did you happen to pick up any beta on this?

Thanks,
Whoopi Cat
"It is the only way to get to the universe; bet everything every single step forward."

- Wayne Hale, Jr. Flight Commander, Space Shuttle Columbia.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby MtHurd » Mon Oct 10, 2011 10:58 am

Yes it has been fully improved. I descended this route on Sept. 11, 2011. Very nice switchbacks all the way to the ridge. In the summer when the trail is dry you could probably summit in 2 hours from the Williams Lake trailhead.

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Re: Wheeler Peak Beta 10/9

Postby whoopi_cat » Mon Oct 10, 2011 11:04 am

Thanks, Senor Raven....

WC
"It is the only way to get to the universe; bet everything every single step forward."

- Wayne Hale, Jr. Flight Commander, Space Shuttle Columbia.

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