Peak(s):  Rinker Pk  -  13,783 feet
Date Posted:  05/13/2012
Date Climbed:   05/11/2012
Author:  piper14er
 Willis Gulch   

11 miles
4400 feet
3 1/2 hours TH to summit
15 minutes on summit
2 1/4 hours reprise

I was sitting here waiting for the wife to get ready for mother-in-law day and figured I would put this together even though there have been a number of great hikes/climbs reported lately. Congratulations Carson, nice mixed route Furthermore, etc.

The trailhead is 2.3 miles west of the center of Twin Lakes along Highway 82 towards Independence Pass. There is a new bridge spanning the river (you can smell the wood stain).

A note on the Willis Gulch trailhead: I seem to recall that there is a sign farther west for the trailhead but I may not be remembering that correctly. I did not see a sign for this parking area and crossing but I may have missed that.

Cross the bridge turn right for just a short distance to a left turn at the metal sign and go between the beaver ponds.

The trail goes past the pond and gains some elevation before you get to this sign for Big and Little Willis.

This is a nice trail and leads you through the aspens, past a ditch and across the creek.



Turn right at this trail sign almost immediately past the bridge.

Hike up the Willis Gulch trail, well maintained...
Image the next sign where you turn right on the Big Willis Gulch trail.

The trail is mostly a good dirt path. There was only a coupl of downed trees to get around the entire way. There were some icy patches where the trail abutted the creek where you have to watch your step.

The next creek crossing, hiker's choice.


The trail.

The rockway.


I had allotted myself three hours to make the summit due to the unsettled weather prediction for the day. The dark clouds were moving in as I made my way across the rockway.

I sped my way along the upper portion of the trail to a point where I could see the line I wanted to take to gain the saddle (see gpx for return line to the main trail which was just slightly farther up than where I left it).

This shows the steepness of the slopes as you look westerly. The 1 mile remaining distance to the top gains 2100 feet.

This looking up the slopes to the snow headwall just below the ridge.

There is a trail that switches back and forth up at least a part of the southeast slopes. I followed it up some and even a little more on the way down. I decided to go directly up the slope at that certain point where I lost the trail. I was trying to beat the weather and gain the summit as quickly as possible. As I had mentioned earlier I had wanted to be at the top in 3 hours to beat the weather but it was the weather that slowed the ascent by just a little.

The clouds settled down on the mountain and it began to hail (not a good thing in my books). The hail was small in size so it appeared it would be okay and I continued on. The hail turned to snow and then as I was heading up the ridge the sun made another appearance.

The snow and a fuzzy goat.

The clouds.



The snow headwall, of sorts.

I called it a headwall as I was on the downhill side of the windblown snow that had settled in over this side of the ridge. I hit the wall at a point that was about twenty feet high of hardpacked snow and ice. A number of hard kick steps and a few extra minutes of work and there is the ridge.

The ridge to the summit was a mix of snow and rock.

The summit.

The lakes between Mount Hope and Rinker Peak.


The summit jar.

Mount Hope.


I spent about 15 minutes on the summit and headed back down. The clouds moved back in and the snow started again. I dropped off the ridge, hail starting again, and descended as quickly as possible. I gained the main trail in short order.

A look back down the gulch.

The hail started once more just after we were headed down. This time it was marble size and then the thunder and lightning started on the peak.

The hail turned to snow...

...and then to rain on the remaining trail back.

Nice trail, well maintained with a good approach to the steep grassy slopes on the ascent as well as a good return. (much easier than M. Lemke's adventure).

The drive home.

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

Comments or Questions
Matt Lemke

Snow going away...
05/13/2012 17:45
Looks like you can hike up Willis gulch now without much postholing?
I did Rinker last February by heading streight up the NE ridge...that was one long day.
Nice photos!


05/13/2012 21:07
Good to know that the bridge has been put in place!
Nice Al, thanks for posting!


I'm confused...
05/13/2012 21:54
As to why you'd pass on the obvious title: ”What you talking about, Willis?” Nice report. Looks like an awesome trail. Congrats on beating the weather.


05/13/2012 22:33
Considering that there are 384 Quandary Reports and only 6 Rinker Reports. I think this report pretty good!


thanks everyone
05/14/2012 14:19
Matt I read your report, I have had the same experience from time to time, that sinking feeling.

mr d_(b for)baker nice Tijeras report, got me thinking about Music Pass.

carpeDM right seize the Willis

Quandary? no#@#%$ way

Anna, thanks I was wanting to ask you about your 13,147 and Sewanee route and how that experience went.


05/14/2012 14:38
That bridge (or lack thereof) stymied me and Papi last fall. We opted for Bull Hill instead (hey, how many TRs are there on Bull Hill?!?!?).

Nice report, as always. Thanks for posting!


not many
05/14/2012 16:50
Wooderson, there are a few Bull Hill reports but not many, I just have a thing about ^&%$#@* Quandary, but that is just me.

Anna ok thanks, see I was looking at that from Pomeroy and it looked interesting.

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