Wilson Peak, Colorado 14,017'
October 13, 2003
|Fall colors with Wilson Peak in the background.|
On my first attempt on Wilson Peak last winter I spent the morning finding the trailhead. My next attempt with Jared, I spent the first three hours postholing with my $30 snowshoes. Finding myself back in Telluride the following fall I decided to take a day to settle an old score. Driving down the dark Silver Pick Road I found that I could recognize individual trees, which served as a testament to how miserable the snow-covered approach had been the previous March.
Parking at the gate in the road I jumped out of the Toyota as the first light of the new day seeped through the naked aspens. After the light, the next thing I noticed was the wind howling off the top of the peak. My entire approach to this outing was casual. Shorts, a t-shirt, and a windshirt - my only clothes - suggested I was better outfitted for a stroll through the park than an ascent of a 14er. Even with the casual approach I still planned to climb three 14ers in one day including El Diente and Mt Wilson. I don't know the history of how these peaks were named, but I imagine it didn't involve much creativity seeing how two adjacent peaks have the same name.
As David set off up the trail to slay three Goliaths just before 7 a.m. it became immediately apparent that no matter how fast I hiked I wasn't going to warm up. In addition to being cold at 10,000' another problem emerged: the call of nature and no toilet paper. Not wanting a rerun of previous experiences I searched my pack in search of a suitable substitute to the preferred 2-ply. A hard decision was made which resulted in the sacrifice of my route description which I had so meticulously wrote down on a piece of paper the previous night.
I continued over the dry but familiar ground of the Silver Pick Basin and up to the Rock of Ages Saddle tromping through shin deep sugar snow. On the ascent I had hoped that the rising sun hurry up and warm the morning air, but upon reaching the saddle I was met by howling winds that made me wish for pants and a jacket. I didn't stop long and continued up a talus slope, scrambled on rock around a corner and continued on a longer talus slope.
|Lizard Head Pk as seen from the SW slopes of Wilson Pk.|
The path finally gave way to full-time snow just before the crux of the climb - a short narrow section of 3rd class exposed loose rock that was partially covered in ice and snow. Although this section got my attention I was so cold I didn't hesitate for fear of losing all feeling in my hands. Shortly after I was on the summit just as the clock turned 10:00 a.m. I huddled behind a rock out of the wind and in the sun while I gobbled a quick lunch and stared at the expansive views towards Telluride to the east, Utah's desert to the west and the towns of Montrose and Delta to the north.
|Narrow ridge step (crux) looking down from the summit.|
|On the summit with the Telluride area to the right in the valley below.|
|The Mt Wilson - El Diente (14,000' +) ridgeline as seen from the summit of Wilson Pk.|
As I descended Wilson Pk's SW ridge I decided I could either go do Wilson and El Diente or go to WalMart. I must have really been cold because the decision was easy - I bombed back down to the Toyota and made a bee-line to the warm confines of WalMart in Montrose. When I returned to Telluride that evening I noticed that the waterfalls had begun to freeze - the temperature had dropped almost 20ºF that day. The temperature with wind chill factored in had been below zero when I was on the mountain. Not a good day for shorts, but a good day to settle an old score with my nemesis, Wilson Peak.
-written October 2003