Peak(s):  Mt. Wilson  -  14,246 feet
Date Posted:  07/07/2010
Modified:  08/16/2011
Date Climbed:   07/03/2010
Author:  Carl
 Mt. Wilson via Kilpacker  

Mt. Wilson - My 14er finisher
Route: Southwest slope via Kilpacker Basin trailhead
Vert: Approx. 4,450
Mileage: 13.4
Time: 5 hours to summit
Group: Ben (Benners) & Carl

At the beginning of April I had 13 Sangres and San Juans peaks left on my list of Colorado's 58 14ers. With a little luck and few committed partners, by the first weekend of June, we had managed to ski 12 of these 13 peaks, and I had one 14er left to summit. Unable to squeeze a Mt. Wilson ski descent in this season, the plan quickly came together for a 4th of July trip to Telluride.

Unfortunately, my friend Marc, with whom I had shared more 14er summits than anyone, had a wedding to attend in Seattle this weekend. Marc had been a motivator throughout this 14er project and continues to be a mentor in the mountains. Anyone who knows him wouldn't be too surprised that since he was in Seattle anyway, he climbed Rainer via the Kautz Glacier (with our friend Chris) in a single push from the parking lot the day after the wedding. Congrats guys!

I suppose it was only fitting, however, that I finished the 14ers on Saturday with my good friend Ben. My favorite thing about this website that Bill so selflessly maintains has been the friendships it continues to foster. From the many members with whom I've shared only a carpool and a single summit, to the ones who have become close friends and regular climbing partners. Caroline (USAKeller) introduced me to Ben not too long ago, thinking we might get along well. As we drove down to Telluride this past Friday, Ben and I reminisced about the 25 or so 14ers we've skied together in the last 2 seasons. I guess she was right.

And on to the climb....

With just Mt. Wilson on the agenda, Ben and I opted for the southwest approach from Kilpacker. An inquiry on yielded a useful trip report that included a descent from Wilson into Kilpacker, but with no documented climb on this website of this exact route, we tried to make note of the details during the climb so I could provide them in this TR.

At around 13.5 miles and under 4,500 vertical feet, this route is entirely doable in a day. An excellent camp site exists a few miles in, but it saves less than an hour and a half. With a less than ideal forecast, we left the car at 3:30am. Our approximate route:

About 2.2 miles in, we took the fork to the right, following the sign to El Diente.

Two years ago in Navajo Basin, we almost couldn't leave camp because a mandatory log crossing that was only wet the night before was ice in the morning. Thankfully temps were well above freezing Saturday morning and this log crossing was uneventful.

Me at around 12,500ft as the sun warms the landscape behind us.

A trail leads you below El Diente before it fades in the talus. The route to El Diente weaves its way through the cliff bands before grabbing the ridge east of the summit. Our route to Mt. Wilson continues towards the far side of the Kilpacker Basin before ascending an obvious slope to the north.

Earlier in the year, proceeding on snow directly towards the summit of Mt. Wilson as Roach describes would certainly be the most efficient. We chose to ascend the easy slope pictured below to grab the traverse between El Diente and Mt. Wilson. This gully wasn't too unpleasant, but it is loose and steep enough that in the unlikely event climbers are below you, great caution would need to be exercised.

Ben making the 4th class moves on good rock to reach the ridge.

Ben and El Diente with the sun revealing the portion of the traverse we avoided.

Me on the ridge, pausing to enjoy the views of Wilson Peak and Gladstone.

The remainder of the ridge to Mt. Wilson can be seen here. Our ascent follows the obvious ridge I'm standing on. Our descent follows the less obvious path drawn in yellow.

A hundred feet below the summit we contoured to the northeast side of the ridge. Ben with Lizard Head over his shoulder.

Another great panoramic shot Ben took as I make the final moves to the summit. It's hard to tell here, but there is a huge smile on my face. I'll also add that this was some of the most intense 100 feet of scrambling on any 14er standard route I can recall.

Ben and me on the summit with El Diente in the background.

Another summit shot.

For the descent, we chose to downclimb west a hundred feet then proceed southwest to one of the gullies. Ben can correct me if I'm wrong but I recall being able to keep this entirely at class 3. Here is another look at the descent route.

A few hundred vertical of class 3 puts you in one of these gullies. Probably an enjoyable ascent route in late spring snow. Without snow cover the loose rock and scree are a little unpleasant, but not enough to distract from the route overall. As you can tell here, it's not nearly as steep as it looks in that earlier picture taken from the ridge.

I stayed on the snow for the most part on Saturday, but it wasn't very efficient. Hard and fast snow conditions made for a slow and tedious descent. I think I remember hearing laughter as Ben took this shot from the rocks.

Off the moderately steep snow slope and able to relax, I made a quick ascent of this sub summit.

Time to descent, Ben makes fast progress on the snow fields.

Stopped on the way out to take a few classic El Diente waterfall pictures. This one of Ben's turned out pretty nice.

With the exception of a few climbers on the El Diente/Wilson ridge that we noticed in the distance (and later learned to be members), we saw no one the entire day. This fact, together with the scenery that we both agreed was among the best in Colorado, made this an incredible 14er to finish on.

One of my favorite things about deciding to hike and climb Colorado's 14ers is that it forces you to visit parts of Colorado and to travel places when you might otherwise stay close to home. This past weekend was no exception and this trip to Telluride was particularly enjoyable.

Finishing our Mt. Wilson climb around noon left us ample time to take the spouses rock climbing in Ophir.

The Cracked Canyon is a unique place that seemed to have a good selection of easy to moderate trad routes.

Later that day, we found ourselves planning another climb (Dallas) from the pool at the Telluride Mountain Lodge.

Followed by a gondola ride into town for a few celebratory PBRs.

The next day we hiked from the Cross Mountain trailhead and were rewarded with spectacular scenery, and again, had the place to ourselves.

We decided to save a climb of Lizard Head until next year, but we relaxed for a while near there gathering beta, taking photos, and discussing future trips to Lizard, Gladstone, and the Wilsons.

Telluride's fireworks display doesn't disappoint. As the local who gave us chairs and blankets explained, the town has a long history of enjoying their explosives (like many mining towns I suppose).

Made a few stops on the drive home yesterday. The first to grab this picture of Mt. Sneffels

The final stop was to visit the Black Canyon National Park. Definitely worth the detour to see this magnificent canyon that was carved by the Gunnison River flowing up to 12,000cfs. Also some unique climbing to be had on the Painted Wall if you've got the skills and inclination (we were lacking a good deal of the former, and a little of the later).

A parting shot.

Thanks Ben, Al, Denise, and Dayna, for another rewarding 14er climb and amazing weekend playing in Colorado.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

hell yeah Carl
02/05/2011 00:22
Thats a nice Tour de Telluride over the long weekend. I guess getting turned back on Wilson a couple years ago was a blessing in disguise. Looks like you fit a little bit of everying in this trip and it shows in your report. Good to see you are already planning some 13er outings.

Job well done.


Thanks Brian..
05/02/2011 14:23
I‘m sure you remember that icy log crossing I referenced. Some great memories from our trip to the Wilson group. Was telling Ben about it on the drive down.


Log Crossing
07/07/2010 13:29
I remember that log crossing! That and about 8 hours of thunderstorms after summiting Wilson Peak. Congrats on finishing them up. I have just one left, which I should be finishing next month...


Well done...
07/07/2010 13:48
Congrats buddy. Glad you were able to take it all in and enjoy the finale.


Well played
07/07/2010 14:04
Congrats Carl! Strong work this spring on all of those San Juan ski descents too! Way to finish in style with a nice weekend trip as well. I‘m glad we were able to share a few summits together.


11/30/2010 17:28
Congratulations on your accomplishment! To me, this report IS the essence of hiking in Colorado. Great friends and loved ones together basking in the beauty and wonder of the mountains. These moments can hardly produce words...and rarely need to.

Thanks for posting this. It's really motivating.


04/18/2014 19:27
Carl way to finish in style.What a great finisher fun in Telluride with your beautiful spouses and beta for Lizardhead. I just hope you survived the jump on the last picture


Very Nice!
07/07/2010 15:15
Great way to do Mt. Wilson ... and nice to have the wives along for what was a fantastic long weekend for all of you! Beautiful photos ... thanks for posting. (that last photo is hilarious!) Happy trails!


07/07/2010 15:26
Way to go, Carl! Congrats on #58 and a great way to get Mt. Wilson.


What a weekend!
01/19/2011 03:38
Finish the 14ers on Wilson, catch the fireworks in T-Ride, climb in Ophir, and hit the Black Canyon on the way out.
Congrats on finishing, Carl.


07/07/2010 15:38
Congrats on finishing in such style!!!


FFF = Fantastic Fotos & Finish!
07/07/2010 16:24
Fantastic Fotos and day! Congrats on the acheivement - ! KG


07/07/2010 20:37
Fantastic TR and photos! This will be very helpful as my husband and I hope to attempt the Mt. Wilson-ED traverse sometime this summer (eek!), and I really appreciate the beta. Congratulations on your finish - very exciting and well-deserved!!


07/07/2010 23:49
Nice way to finish Carl!
Sounds like a great trip!


07/08/2010 01:18
Great way to finish up your first lap of the fourteeners. We were on Mt Wilson Saturday also. We got to the summit ridge just as a group who did the traverse were climbing back off of it. They were the first people we had seen all day doing the standard route! Nice report!


07/08/2010 02:02
Way to finish in style.

Ridge runner

Congrats on finishing Carl!
02/01/2011 00:24
Nice work guys! Looks like you all had a great few days out there. Great to see the wives coming along too!


Congratulations Carl!!
07/08/2010 04:52
What an amazing Spring season you guys had. Nice job finishing in beautiful conditions on a beautiful area of the state.


07/08/2010 22:50
Image #24, is that what you get when you finish??? I can‘t wait!!!


06/02/2011 14:57
to see you without skis! Congratulations on finishing the 58. Nice report. Looks like another fun trip with great friends.


05/02/2011 14:23
All the comments are much appreciated. Thanks guys.

Craigo, to answer your question, if you play your cards right, I can only hope that you get something similar (though not exactly the same) as image #24 when you finish. Good luck!


07/11/2010 19:59
Looks like a great weekend - awesome way to finish!


Nice Work
08/30/2010 14:02
Carl, that is a way to go out with a bang. Congrats man!!!


Congrats! And thanks!!
06/22/2011 16:11
Congrats on an excellent finisher!

And thanks for the great detail on the route - especially the descent. Very helpful!

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