Peak(s):  Mt. Wilson  -  14,246 feet
El Diente Peak  -  14,159 feet
Date Posted:  07/29/2012
Modified:  08/08/2012
Date Climbed:   07/27/2012
Author:  vorticity
 Mt Wilson, Kilpacker and South Slopes: Class 2+, 3  

Mt. Wilson, South Slopes from Kilpacker Basin. No Class 4 summit block, but miles of talus.

- #42 for me.
- Useful trip reports: Kitten, 08/27/2011. LynnKH, 09/03/2010. Carl, 07/03/2010. Dancesatmoonrise, 08/08/2011
- Highly useful report I wish had been posted before we departed: highpilgrim, 7/26/2012
- Roundtrip from Kilpacker Trail Head via El Diente: 15 miles.
- Camped overnight in Kilpacker near stream about 2.5 miles in.
- Departed Camp: 4:00AM
- Summited El Diente: 7:50AM
- Summited Mt. Wilson: 10:45AM
- Met along the way: Alan from Vernal Utah, LOVENIT.
- Biggest surprise: Going up El Diente you have to stay on the gray talus almost to the ridgeline
- Many thanks to Kitten and MountainMike for talking me though the plan on the phone ahead of time.

The south slopes climb from Kilpacker to El Diente is straight forward, so I won't discuss that much here. The only surprise we had was that we had to climb almost to the ridge line between El Diente and Mt. Wilson before heading back west under the Organ Pipes toward the notch to the north slope.

Coming off El Diente, we got to the bottom of the Gray Talus and tried to maintain our altitude by contouring at around 13,500 feet. This was a mistake. We would have made better time had we descended another 250 feet where the talus was a little larger and a little flatter. If you are standing at the base of the gray talus looking east toward the east end (toward Mt Wilson) and are thinking of crossing to the red rocks across small, red talus. Don't do it. We did. It's like trying to move on steeply stacked marbles.

Image The image above is an Overview of the entire route from Parking.

Image The image above shows a closer view of the GPS track from Kilpacker to El Diente then on to Mt Wilson. There is a lot of work off trail. As the word spreads, I won't be surprised to find this route become more popular. Except for the long walk on talus, the climb is much easier than the north slopes: Nothing really harder than a few Class 3 moves, unless you take the shallow gully which is Class 4+ on very nice rock (with just a few loose handholds). Note, on this image, we took a more western route when we down climbed off El Diente (down the gray talus). The rock looked more stable. This route has been used extensively by others as noted from the cairns on it.

Image Up and over the upper waterfall, El Diente will pass on your left

Image The image above is a shot is taken from the Down Climb back into Kilpacker, but it gives a good idea of what to expect on the way up.

Image If you climb with a GPS, you are shooting for a spot at the base of the gullies coming off the south side of Mt. Wilson (N37 50.337 W107 59.579). You cannot see this spot (in the photo above) from Kilpacker until you are very close to it.

Image This shot above is taken from another trip report (from the traverse). It gives a good idea of what you are shooting for. The yellow line shows the easiest route (Class 2+, 3). If you want a more challenging climb (Class 4 on great rock), choose the shallow gulley (red line) that appears as soon as you make the contour across the easy Class 3 section. It appears on your left. This was actually a mistake we made due to my error in trip planning. However, it turned out to be a lot of fun, if you are into steep, exposed terrain.

Image The screen shot above is a closer view of the GPS track.

Image See Ernie, in the image above, at the base of the "Y" shaped gullies. He is going to cross the base of the "Y" from climber's left to right, cross some easy Class 3 into the wide gulley that heads West to East and up. Just over Ernie's left (climbers left) shoulder, you cannot see the colouier that heads straight up to the summit notch. If you take this, you will end up in the same place you would had you done the traverse. By heading more east up the wide gully in front of Ernie, the climb is easier with no need to get over the exposed Class 4 summit block.

Image The image above from Google Earth is simply another view. It gives a good idea of the orientation of the gulley you are looking for to the E-W.

Image Above is the obligatory summit shot. Lest you think we are really organized, LOVENIT brought the really cool sign along. In the next shot you can see Alan with a white tube sticking out of his backpack. He brought the sign along.

The weather was not near as bad as it looks in this photo. There was some sort of interesting short wave weather system moving through that brought a zooming AltoStratus deck across the range at about 14,500 feet ASL. There was no convection present. By the time we got back in the basin, this phenomenon had moved through so that insolation could begin forming cumulus castelanous again. We had a few drops of rain from the cumulonimbus clouds by about 3PM. By this time we had pulled up camp and were hiking back to the car.

Image The photo above is of Alan and Vort beginning the down climb into the gulley right off the SSW corner of the summit. Walk to the east end of the summit, sit on a large flat rock, and drop about 4 feet directly into the Class 2+, 3 gulley that takes you to safety.

Image Above, Ernie is in the E-W gulley (not steep). If he continues straight down, he runs into a very steep section, so instead, he takes the route we climbed on the way up. It's an easy Class 3 contour into the next gulley to the west, then very simple from there.

Image The image above is a closer shot of Ernie taking the traverse into the other gulley. It's very simple.

Image I use a location identifier so my wife and family know I am still alive. This is what they get in an email.

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

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/30/2012 02:09
Congratulations on a great TR and hike! I am sure many people will find your description of the route extremely helpful. Nice GPS graphs and maps describing the route. Well done!


Nice report.
07/31/2012 17:07
I just did it this past Sunday based on a trip report from Highpilgrim, I crossed the rib between the two gullies too high and got a bit of taste of that class 4 you are talking about. Pretty solid but exposed to me. Unfortunately, I had much more rain this weekend, so was pushed away from ElDiente twice and will have to return there once more.


Very informative report
08/02/2012 20:25
I plan on this climb over the coming weekend. Your report will go a long way in helping us efficiently make the climb in what looks to be a tighter and tighter weather window. Thanks for taking the time to share your experience and insight with the community.


Thank You, Thank You
07/16/2015 21:34
I’m planning on using this route later this Summer and your route description makes this doable. Thanks for all the details and the GPX file!

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