Peak(s):  Wheeler Peak - 13,161 feet
Date Posted:  05/14/2011
Date Climbed:   05/13/2011
Author:  mennoguy

 New Mexico Land of Enchantment  

May 12
Wheeler Peak 13,161
Mount Walter 13,133
Frazer Mountain 12,163
Participants Me, Tyler(tdawg)

Tyler and I had planned on climbing some peaks in the Sangres for these days for about a month to bring in the summer alpine season. Our original plans were to climb the Spanish Peaks and the publicly accessible 13ers of the Culebra Range. Mother nature had other ideas. So a quick look at the forecast in NM gave me the idea to head down there.

We left Boulder early on the 12th, driving through rain and snow over the Palmer Divide. After Colorado Springs the skies cleared and by Walsenburg the clouds were breaking their grip on the skies. At 10:00 we arrived at the Bull of the Woods TH. I know this is a late start for the summer season. However this is not summer and the weather looked great.

It was chilly and the clouds were moving quickly overhead. Wind would great us in the near future. We left the TH at 10:30 and quickly made it up to treeline. Below treeline there was 2” of fresh snow which was in the process of melting quickly. It did not slow our progress. Many people had made the trek to the Bull of the Woods saddle considering the tracks were easy to follow. The tracks started to thin as we climbed up the snow covered slopes to 12k. The trail at this point crossed a steep snow field, this was remedied by heading west around a shoulder. From this point we followed the ridge as it had the least amount of snow.

Tyler on the north ridge


The LaCal Basin had two snow fields to cross both of them very easy. Along the way we saw lots of bighorn droppings. The source couldn’t be far away, not long after commenting on how much sheep s$#% there was we saw some grazing on the ridge. They watched intently as we crossed the basin.

Bighorn Sheep, not Mountain Goats

Enchanted Circle

Once we hit the ridge the wind started to pick up and it was chilly when the sun played hide and go seek with the clouds. On the summit of Wheeler it was pleasant and not windy. The sun came out and we lounged for 15 minutes before heading down.

Me enjoying the views

First flowers of summer

Some trail conditions

The trip down was uneventful. We summited in 3:15 and the descent took 2:30.

We drove to the intersection of FS road 134 and 134A just outside of Questa and set up camp for our assault of the Latir Peaks Wilderness the next day.

May 13
Venado Peak 12,734
Latir Peak 12,708
Latir Mesa 12,692 (unranked)
Virslyvia Peak 12,594
“Cabresto Sur Este” 12,456
Cabresto Peak 12,448
“Bull Creek Peak” 12,170

This was it, my first long alpine traverse of the year, a whole month earlier than last year when I lay siege to the Mount Evans Wilderness. Our day started at 7:15. We didn’t know how far up 134A we could drive in an accord. So we found a nice place to camp and start our day. I would say an accord could not make it up the road, however an outback probably could. We reached beautiful Cabresto Lake at 7:45 and started up the trail. It is amazing how much greener plants are this far south. aspens had leafs on them. Lake Fork Creek had a healthy flow, though I don’t think it will last very long. The trail was snow free up to 10,400 feet. This is when we decided to follow the steep SE ridge of “Bull Creek Peak”. The summit never seemed to appear. Then finally we popped out of the trees and there was the summit.

Cabresto Lake

Lake Fork Creek

“Cabresto Sur Este” is only .4 miles away but it’s a 600 foot climb. We made quick work of the traverse, climbing one small snow field which looked bad from “Bull Creek Peak”. We followed sheep tracks up to the saddle. From there it is a quick hike up gentle slopes to the summit. We lounged around for a while before climbing Cabresto Peak. This went very quickly and in no time we were on the summit. There are two candidates for the high point on the ridge I couldn’t tell which was higher so visit them both.

"Cabresto Sur Este"

Easy snow climb

Cabresto Peak

On the summit ridge

Venado Peak stood to our north begging for us to climb it. So we obliged. We climbed up the gentle snow fields to the summit. We dropped our packs and hurried over to Virslyvia Peak. Sheep trails made the descent and re-ascent easier. The summit of Virslyvia was covered in snow. There was a recent wet slide near the summit, something we didn’t see until on top of Latir Peak.

Virslyvia Peak

Latir Peak was the last peak of the day. The traverse held no difficulties and we were on the summit in no time. Here again was a summit ridge with multiple candidates for the high point. Benchmarks were on two of the summits and the cairn was on the north summit, however it appeared as though the middle summit was the highest also with a BM. At any rate we visited all the summits.

Venado Peak

Virslyvia Peak, notice the wet slide

More easy snow

Unnamed lake 11893

All that was left now was the long hike down. Unlike on Wheeler this would not be an easy descent. We headed SE towards Heart Lake. It was smooth sailing until we dropped down into the valley. There it was a postholing nightmare down to the lake. There were dry spots and spots that were 3 feet deep. At the lake we regrouped knowing the worst was over, or was it. The worst was over with, however the postholing lasted in spots until about 10,800 feet. It was finally time to breath easy and stroll down the trail. We arrived back at the car at 6:30 about an hour later than I anticipated. Though I didn’t anticipate the snow near Heart Lake to be that deep.

Before the postholing

Parting shot of Lake Fork Creek

This was an excellent start to the summer season, it felt like June or July on Latir Peak. This will hold me over for the next two weeks while I visit the flatlands of Kansas.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

Thanks for the conmments
05/18/2011 02:30
I'd been meaning to get down to NM for 3 years to climb these peaks. Now I'll probably get down there at least once more this summer. It is really a special area.

Brian C

05/15/2011 00:04
I'd love to get up there sometime soon. Thanks for the report!


Cool TR
05/15/2011 06:33
Thanks for posting the report, I'm hoping to head down there later this month and this is very helpful.


Good stuff
05/15/2011 16:23
I now have your second day on my 2011 itinerary. I've been meaning to get up there for years. The NM Sangres are underrated, IMO.
It's nice to see a TR here for those peaks.

Steve Knapp

05/16/2011 04:42
Nice job Aaron! Sounds like a fun two-days of climbing. Thanks for the report, I still haven't done Wheeler or any of those.

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