San Miguel County Highpoint Trip Report
Date: October 23, 2005
For the Wilsons, I basically used Adam Helman's fine report,
taking 2 1/2 days to do the peaks. I drove in to
Woods Lake, getting there about noon, and backpacked
up to the pass, down into Navajo Basin and up to
Navajo Lake. I found a nice campsite near the lake
outlet for the next two nights.
Early in the morning found me on the trail moving upstream till I was due
north of Mount Wilson (about 11,950 ft), then headed South
and up following grassy use trails and keeping right
of a large snowfield, toward the notch East of the peak.
Just below this point the climbing turned to Class 3,
and once on the ridge I encountered a few
Class 4 moves climbing over and around the blocky
pinnacles and finally topping out on the airy summit around 11:00.
A look across the connecting ridge to El Diente
was scary looking, nevertheless I decided to
give it a try. I backtracked to below the notch and
began traversing below the north face of Mount Wilson,
eventually gaining the ridge about 1,000 feet beyond.
Then began a continuous lesson in route-finding,
climbing down, around and over the many obstacles along the
Class 3-4 route.
The ridge involved thin ridges, airy traverses,
a few large towers and lots of exposed cliffs, and loose scree on everything.
Not nice. Three hours later, with my nerves and most of the afternoon shot,
I joined three other climbers on the summit of
El Diente. As they had come directly up from Navajo
Lake and knew the route back, I followed them down a
fun scree chute. A wild, satisfying day.
Next morning I was on the trail early again, working
my way slowly up past a mine claim to the Rock of Ages
saddle at about 13,000 ft. I met two couples here who
had come up from the Silver Pick mine. I asked them
about the trespassing problems from that area and
their reply was that they had started from a new
parking area for the new trailhead. Noone was around
so they just walked up the road past the mine.
As we sat there, I noticed two other groups working their
way up to the pass from that direction. The trail had
noticeably deteriorated approaching the pass from the
south but now it was in great shape and well-worn as I
followed the others across to the Gladstone saddle.
I dropped down a bit and started up the Class 2-3 scree
slope to the false summit, dropped about 40 feet and
climbed talus and ledges to the Class 4 top of Wilson Peak.
I took the obligatory pictures, and grabbed a
bite to eat while admiring the Wilson-El Diente ridge
across the way and headed down as the summit got crowded.
7 hours after I left I was packing up for the down,
up and down trip out.
Needless to say, I was impressed with this area of the
San Juan Range. The peaks are spectacular and imposing.
If only they would sweep away the loose
scree that's covering everything. I doubt whether this
report will aid anyone in climbing these peaks but it
was fun reminiscing as I related my experiences.
Although I was climbing alone most of the time,
I don't recommend it. The terrain is too unpredictable.
I found myself using parachute cord to lower myself
from cul-de-sacs a couple of times and slings to
manipulate airy traverses occasionally.