Peak(s):  Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
Date Posted:  09/21/2012
Date Climbed:   09/18/2012
Author:  shaunster_co
Additional Members:   Mountain Woman
 Wilson Pk from Silver Pick  

One cannot resist the amazing September weather in the San Juans. Elle (mountain woman) needed a partner for Wilson Peak, so off we went. We also checked out Coxcomb and the north approach to Wetterhorn / Matterhorn / Uncompahgre from the Silver Jack Lake area (Middle Fork), but I will save that for another report. We planned on the Silver Pick Basin approach. Elle had previously attempted this approach but was turned back at the ROA saddle due to weather. Her trip wasn't wasted though, on that particular attempt she had the opportunity to see the elusive wolverine that has been seen in that area. Sadly we didn't see it this time around, but we did get a basket of nice weather.

The weather was just amazing. We left the ROA trailhead at roughly 4:15am and made it to the ROA saddle right at dawn. I am glad I went through Silver Pick Basin under headlamp, the remnants of mining trash is of course everywhere. Silver Pick still has it's own character, but seeing it in one direction was fine with me. From there the first light of alpen glow cast on El D.

For the most part the approach to Wilson Peak is straight forward. There is a small technical section just after the saddle of Gladstone as mentioned in the route description. If you have a heavier pack (since the weather is getting cooler) you may find this cumbersome. Dropping below may be an easier option.

There are many places along this route with loose rock and cracks in the dirt. I talked to a guide on the way up that mentioned it has gotten much worse in the past year. Perhaps a word caution there because the Wilson's in general seem to be experiencing loose sections. Paying attention to critical foot and hand holds is key is some of the sections. I haven't been on the Mt Wilson side, but I hear it is just as sketchy in places.

I snapped a few pics (pics 11 & 12) of Mt Wilson from the Gladstone Saddle (between Gladstone and Mt Wilson, on Mt Wilson's Northeast face). There seems to have been a massive rock slide at some point, does anyone know how recent? Years, weeks, days?

In July 2011 Elle and her climbing partner Ryan (and I believe another 14ers member-schrund?) were traversing the ridge between El D and Mt Wilson when flash-boom lightning came in from the Kilpacker Basin side. They had to bail about three-quarters of the way across the traverse. She pointed out the descent to me from the distant false summit of Wilson Pk... It made my skin crawl thinking of having to bail on that side. I have no interest in doing El D or Mt Wilson from the Navajo Basin side - I will be doing it from the Kilpacker side.

A beautiful fall in the San Juans - the colors are just beginning to turn around the Dallas Divide. Peak on Red Mountain and Molas passes as well. Enjoy the fall!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Nice pics
09/22/2012 01:32
Those aspen look beautiful.

Not sure if that rock slide is new or not - it certainly looks fresh in your pic, but scanning some other TRs from last year I am going to guess it is just a function of the particular rock and lighting conditions.


Rock slide.
09/22/2012 14:44
We climbed Wilson Peak in less than ideal conditions at the end of August. The rock slide below Mt. Wilson was clearly visible.

Sure is nice to see these September trips reports with beautiful blue skies.

Bill Oliver

Thx for the update
09/22/2012 17:36
Can you say approximately what time you summitted and the time back at the car?
On 9/19, I climbed Eolus & Sunlight - thanks to long sunny days. Thx a lot, Bill


Climb time
09/22/2012 18:08
Bill - we left the Rock of Ages trailhead around 4:30 and we reached the ROA saddle right at sunrise (alpen glow on El D). We took a breakfast break on the Gladstone Saddle for about 45 mins to warm up and admire the views. In all though we were back at the trailhead by 2:45, taking some breaks to admire the aspen. If there would have been afternoon weather we could have made it down much faster, but there was no hurry. It's my opinion that coming down Silver Pick Basin took a little longer than going up (ankle biting scree), but I have a knee that hates that stuff so maybe I am just whining.

Bill Oliver

Climb time
09/22/2012 18:59
Thanks so much, Shaunster. I'd like to try it later next week, along with Mt Wilson, if the snow continues to hold off.

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