Peak(s):  Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  09/18/2012
Date Climbed:   09/16/2012
Author:  gonzalj
 Wilson Peak via Silver Pick/SW Ridge  

Well it had been 2 months since my failed attempt at wilson peak and I had another opportunity to attempt this majestic peak with Dan_Suitor and was hoping that since I wasn't solo this time that my luck would change. We started off with an early 5:20 am start even though the weather forecast looked perfect and the weather all weekend had been perfect, but anyway I was excited for this one. As we make our way up treeline and start entering in the basin right before sunrise, everything was going well and even though we didn't set any speed records, we managed to make our way up the basin and past the rock house to where the trail merges with the road and actually find plenty of cairns and the trail pretty easily eventually taking us to the rock of ages saddle in 2 and a half hours (not bad I'm thinking as I chipped off 15 minutes from my previous time). And now, where the interesting terrain begins as I'm staring at the wilson/gladstone ridge, where I was forced to turn around right before that saddle last time. After putting our helmets on and taking a second to admire that wilson/el diente traverse view from ROA we start making our way on the trail that leads up to the wilson/gladstone saddle. What I found is that the previous time where I had to turn around probably less than 0.25 mile away from the saddle I went too high that last time and got myself into some sketchy terrain with loose rock, exposure, etc. and this time we saw a trail go right below the loose rock outcropping and were just fine making our way quickly to the saddle.

At this point we're looking at the route description right after photo 15 in the SW ridge route where we have 2 options to either stay closer to the ridge and climb more class 3 terrain or drop down 100' feet down a trail and then start making our way back to the ridge. At this point in time we decided to drop the 100' because we saw the trail going down and it looked "easier" than option 1 of more scrambling. Well after about 10 minutes of cursing at this somewhat ridiculous loose trail I guess I learned my lesson and we started making our way up the trail towards the ridge (needless to say on the way back we did the class 3 climbing and stayed closer to the ridge and even though it was more "technical" climbing, it was definitely a lot more fun and solid). Making our way towards the false summit, there was some loose rock & exposure, but overall it really wasn't bad and fairly straight forward class 2 hiking up towards the false summit. There was 1 point halfway up the ridge where we saw two trails split off with one going just below the ridge and the other trail going lower down and a bit further from the ridge. We initially chose the second trail that was further away from the ridge and after hiking in about 50 feet and looking at a gully that we needed to ascend, Dan tried ascending to no success at all and after releasing plenty of loose rock down the steep slope we decided to make our way back to that initial junction (which was right by a little saddle that you reach on the ridge and can see both the terrain looking north towards silver pick basin and south towards Telluride & lizard head) and take the higher trail that was closer to the ridge and very shortly after that found ourselves crossing the trail directly above this loose gully. After that, it was short timing before we reached the false summit. At first sight, with the exposure on the left and looking at the gully that's in photo 18 of the route description and the climbing to the right of the "crack" (that's in photos 18 & 19) there was some intimidation factor, but shortly after analyzing the terrain we decided to stay right of the "crack" and avoid the gully on the left and just climb up. After a few short seconds on downclimbing, that intimidation was totally gone and it was replaced with excitement. The hand & foot holds were very solid and the climbing was fun and before I knew it I was above the area with "crack"and making my up the last part to the summit. What a fun peak.

At this point, during this special weekend where Jeff & Greg had just finished the 14ers (major congrats to you two!!) and the whole weekend was a memorial finisher weekend for our friend Rob, I felt happy to be able to summit and dedicate this to Rob & Chris and sad due to the tragic events that occurred in the weeks prior. RIP Rob & Chris...

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Great job
09/19/2012 15:02
Way to go back and get it, Jorge. It was great seeing you this weekend. Thanks again for everything.


09/20/2012 01:09
Hey thanks Jeff & Jason for the comments. It was definitely a fun week and a nice way to try to end the summer right.

Eric Stave

09/20/2012 16:32
Excellent work! I saw you guys in the wee hours at Silver Pick Basin trailhead as I did Mt. Wilson on that gorgeous Sunday. I left at 5:40 and saw you again as you approached Rock of Ages saddle. Nice aspens pic.


Way to go Eric
09/20/2012 16:58
Hey Eric,

Yeah, it was definitely a perfect weather day. How was Mt. Wilson? At one point in time in the morning we heard a major rockfall just below the ridge between el d & mt. wilson and was wondering what happened to cause that.

Eric Stave

Thank you
09/20/2012 17:19
Yes, I heard the rock fall. I was traversing the north face of Mt. Wilson below the summit when I heard some guys on the El D-Wilson ridge yell ”rock!” This was followed by what seemed like a constant minute of continued rocks pummeling into Navajo Basin. They appeared ok and continued on the route.

Mt. Wilson was probably the hardest 14er technically having elements of Capitol's exposure, Little Bear's confinement and rockfall, and Sunlight's difficult crux move. It is crucial the ridge and summit push be done in excellent weather. Can't fathom doing the ridge in rain or snow. The return trip up ROA saddle and back to Silver Pick Basin was true punishment after the Mt. Wilson descent. Consider Navajo Basin approach if you do the El D-Wilson ridge.


Mt. Wilson
09/20/2012 17:28

Well I'm glad you're safe and got wilson. Yeah, looking at those dreaded north slopes of el diente & mt. wilson above navajo basin I've basically concluded the only way I'll do those 2 peaks is el diente via kilpacker and then traverse to wilson or do navajo basin if there's a consolidated layer of snow on that side. The terrain looks absolutely miserable otherwise.

Eric Stave

Good route
09/20/2012 17:36
Excellent idea about up Kilpacker. I did that route for El Diente and felt safe the entire time. Always wondered what the North Slope route up that peak would be like. The route up Mt. Wilson's shoulder from Upper Navajo Basin was straight-forward Class 2, but caution is needed with the diagonal Southwest traverse towards the ridge. There are nasty ribs and gullies requiring frequent downclimbing if too close to the ridge.

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