Peak(s):  Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  09/06/2011
Modified:  09/09/2011
Date Climbed:   09/04/2011
Author:  Mooney Pilot

 Scary or Sporty?  

The new Rock of Ages trail to Wilson Peak officially opened on August 3, and I was anxious to check it out. The new trail, according to the Forest Service brochure that I picked up, begins at an elevation of 10,383 feet, and proceeds to the Rock of Ages saddle. The Forest Service brochure lists the elevation of the Rock of Ages Saddle to be 13,400 feet, the route description on lists the elevation at the saddle to be 13,000 feet, and my GPS indicated the elevation at the saddle to be 13,100 feet. Go figure.

The trail to the Rock of Ages Saddle is a Class 1 hike all the way to the saddle, with numerous signs marking the way:


Here's a view of the Rock of Ages saddle from the trail:


And a view of Wilson Peak from the trail:


Once you reach the Rock of Ages saddle, turn left (northeast) to climb Wilson Peak. An easy Class 1 trail follows the length of the saddle.

Here's a view from the saddle, looking back:


A dramatic change of conditions greets you after traversing the length of the saddle. From that point on, there are trail segments and occasional cairns, but the route to the summit becomes difficult to follow, and some occasional scrambling is necessary.

Here's a view of the summit from around 13,500:


This is a tough climb, with lots of exposure. It's every bit as hard as it looks. A hiker who was descending said that she was turning back because it was too scary.

At 13,500 I became concerned not by the exposure, which really didn't bother me, but by the weather. Dark clouds were starting to build up in the area. These are the types of clouds that when I am flying I avoid like the plague:


The tedious route finding and scrambling had slowed my pace considerably, and I became concerned about whether I would have time to gain the summit and be back at the trailhead by dark. So at 13,500 I turned back.

On my descent I did not encounter a thunderstorm, but did encounter some snow flurries. I'll take snow flurries over a thunderstorm any day.

By the time I reached treeline on my descent, the weather had cleared. At treeline I had this nice view to the east:


Back at the trailhead I encountered a hiker who said that she enjoyed the climb because it was "sporty". I guess "scary" and "sporty" are matters of personal perspective.

Many thanks to those involved in re-establishing public access to Wilson Peak:


Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Scary turns into sporty
09/07/2011 15:17
My perspective is that what seems 'scary' when observing becomes 'sporty' when doing.

The gash between the false and true summit is a perfect example - looking at it head-on from the false summit it looked pretty scary, but once you make the moves down into the gash it starts to fall into place and make sense. And you can see how it works out.

By the way, I think staying to the far right is the best route up the summit side. Bill's route description indicates to cross over to the left just below what appears to be a small cave-type feature - but we found that staying right is much better.


Wow ..
09/07/2011 18:12
They must have really changed that trail from the Wilson Peak/Gladstone saddle ... just a couple of years ago, that was a very easy to follow footpath all the way to the false summit (no exposure involved).

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