Wilson Peak - Southwest Ridge
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 3 |
|Trailhead:||Rock of Ages (S. Pick)|
|Total Gain:||From Rock of Ages TH: 3,800 feet|
From Navajo Basin TH: 5,000 feet
From Navajo Lake: 3,000 feet
|RT Length:||From Rock of Ages TH: 10 miles|
From Navajo Basin TH: 16 miles
From Navajo Lake: 7 miles
|USGS Quad.:||Mount Wilson|
|County Sheriff:||San Miguel: 970-728-4442
| ||Dolores: 970-677-2257
|National Forests:||Uncompahgre, San Juan|
|Wilderness Area:||Lizard Head|
From Ridgway, leave U.S. 550 and take Colorado 62 toward Telluride. Drive over Dallas Divide and down to Placerville and turn left onto Colorado 145. Drive 6.5 miles and turn right onto the Silver Pick road (dirt). It's over 8 miles from here to the trailhead. Drive 4 miles to an intersection and turn right onto FR 622. Continue 2.2 miles, turn right onto FR 645 and drive approx. 2 miles to the Rock of Ages trailhead, near 10,350'. Notes: After 1 mile on the FR 645 road, you must cross the stream in Big Bear Creek which usually isn't too bad by early July. Also, there are some designated camp sites along this road.
Follow the Rock of Ages Approach to Rock of Ages saddle or follow the Navajo Basin Approach to 12,300' in upper east end of Navajo Basin. If coming in from Navajo, continue to the east end of the basin (Photo #1) and ascend the trail northeast and then north towards Rock of Ages saddle above - Photo #2 and Photo #3. Follow the trail north, pass the Rock of Ages Mine and reach the Rock of Ages saddle, at 13,000'.
From the Rock of Ages saddle ( 37.85657° N, -107.99325° W), look east to see the route as it crosses the saddle and traverses the side of a steep slope - Photo #4. Cross the narrow saddle on a good trail and continue across a rugged slope (Photo #5) to reach the small saddle between Gladstone Peak and Wilson Peak. Photo #6 looks back on the hike from Rock of Ages and Photo #7 is the view to the south. From the small saddle ( 37.85579° N, -107.98877° W), look northeast to see the remaining route to the summit - Photo #8 and Photo #9. From here, you have a couple of options: 1) Scramble north across the rocks (Photo #10) until you reach easier terrain or 2) Descend approx. 100' east on steep dirt, turn left and pass under the Class 3 ledges before climbing back up the slope. Option #1 requires Class 3 climbing but is more direct. Option #2 is easier but requires a loss of elevation.
After getting past the steep slope near the saddle, find a trail which heads north and northeast towards the southwest ridge - Photo #11 and Photo #12. The slope is steep and loose but you should find a trail all the way to 13,900'. Continue to climb the slope (Photo #13) and gain the southwest ridge, near 13,550' - Photo #14. Stay near the ridge crest and gain a 13,900-foot false summit - Photo #15 and Photo #16. From the false summit, the true summit is not far away but the remaining route is Class 3.
Your next challenge is to descend from the false summit, cross below the connecting ridge, and gain the summit - Photo #17 and Photo #18. Downclimb about 50', cross some difficult rock below the ridge (Photo #19) and climb back to the ridge (Photo #20 and Photo #21) to reach easier terrain. Walk a short distance north to reach the summit ( 37.859913° N, -107.984795° W) - Photo #22 and Photo #23.
Bring a helmet on this one. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Lizard Head Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the Wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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