Mountaineering – Wilson Peak (14,017 ft)

Success on Wilson Peak
Clare, Mark, and Seth on the summit of Wilson Peak

Clare Scrambling on Wilson to Gladstone Ridge
Scrambling on the North Ridge of Wilson Peak. Gladstone and Mt. Wilson are behind me.

After climbing Dallas Peak, Seth, Mark, and I were hungry for more rock scrambling. There are so many mountains in the San Juan Range, one could spend hours deliberating…

However, having done Gladstone less than a week prior, and spending a couple days staring at Wilson Peak from the south side, I proposed we do Wilson Peak. Lucky for me, the guys were on board!

Strategically, by bagging Wilson Peak now, the next time I was in the area I could focus on El Diente and Mt. Wilson without having to cram all three peaks into one long weekend.

One advantage to climbing mountains with fit people is the ability to leave at a more reasonable time, if conditions allow. Yesterday was an 18 hour day, so starting later gave us a few extra hours of well deserved sleep.

Rock of Ages Trailhead
Here we are leaving the Rock of Ages Trailhead at 6:35am (nice!)

Heading into Silver Pick Basin
After 1.5 hours of hiking, we get our first view of Wilson Peak. It’s the dark bump on the horizon.

Looking Back Down
From the same spot as the picture above, I turn around and get this shot of the view. The road bed is full of cobbles, so it’s not exactly easy traveling…watch your ankles!

The hiking continues along the road until you reach a spot where there are remnants of an old cabin. From this spot, there is a trail which takes one up to the rock of ages saddle.

Upon arrival at the saddle, we were greeted by a female ultra runner. Traveling very light, she had a hydration system, but no windbreaker or other gear. She plowed down into the Kilpacker basin, after saying a quick hello. We were all amazed.

Ridge Between Wilson and Gladstone Peak
From the Rock of Ages Saddle, the path contours around the Northwest side of the mountain towards the ridge between Wilson Peak and Gladstone. This picture was taken while I was contouring over. The dirt trail leading up to the ridge can be seen in the distance.

Note: It is important not to head straight up the ridge from the Rock of Ages saddle. By contouring over to the ridge, you will make much better time and stay on route.

Gladstone Peak From Below Wilson Peak
When I was just below the ridge, I took this shot of Gladstone (looking West). It was neat to see our ascent route, from the climb last weekend!

Mt. Wilson and El Diente from Wilson Peak
Here’s a great picture of Mt. Wilson and El Diente! A little something for me to dream about between now and next year!

Poser Marmot with Gladstone Peak and Mt. Wilson
When we arrived at the Wilson Peak/Gladstone connector ridge, we were greeted by this poser Marmot. He clearly has had numerous run ins with hikers…Look at the way he is modeling in this shot of Gladstone and Mt. Wilson!

From the connector ridge, one does an ascending traverse over to Wilson Peak’s North Ridge. A couple hundred feet from the summit, the climber transitions over to the east side of the north ridge, from the west. It took us 45 minutes to get to this spot.

Clare and Seth Climbing Wilson Peak
On the north ridge of Wilson Peak…Seth and Clare scrambling up the final couple hundred feet. This part of the hike was wicked fun. I wish the whole thing were like this bit! We had a bit of extra challenge as we were climbing in a cloud and the rocks were a bit wet.

Successful Trio on Summit of Wilson Peak
It took us a little under 4 hours to get to the summit, from the trail head. There was a storm brewing, so we took a couple pictures and then headed down.

Lizard Head and Bilk Basin From Wilson Peak
A peek into Bilk Basin from the summit of Wilson Peak.

Descending Wilson Peak
On the way back down the north ridge of Wilson Peak, I got this picture of Seth scrambling down. About 100 feet below him, you can see the dirty flat spot, where you transition to the West side of the ridge. In the distance, Mt. Wilson and El Diente are attracting some gloomy clouds!

Panorama of Gladstone Peak, Mt Wilson, and El Diente
Kilpacker Basin from Gladstone/Wilson Peak connector ridge. To the far right, you can see the trail back to the Rock of Ages Saddle.

Wilson Peak from Silver Pick Basin
It took us 2 hours to get back into this spot, in the Silver Pick Basin, from the summit. A parting look at Wilson Peak and the Rock of Ages Saddle. It finally started raining, so from here back to the car, between bouts of intermittent sunshine, we got soaked.

Ptarmigan in Silver Pick Basin
Can you spot the Ptarmigan?

Wilson Peak Topo Map With Waypoints
Our route with waypoints! Wilson Peak was a fun mountain to climb; with a fairly innocuous approach hike and some fun scrambling. It was ~4 hours on the way up and ~3 hours on the way down. Thanks to Mark and Seth for being such excellent companions, I really enjoyed our banter and time in the mountains!

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