| El Diente/Mt. Wilson from Kilpacker - no traverse
After reading the real negative trip reports of doing El Diente's North slope without snow, we decided to backpack in Kilpacker Basin and climb El Diente and Mt. Wilson from there. We are not technical climbers so we knew we did not want to try the traverse and with the recent trip reports showing a route up Mt. Wilson that would avoid the Class 4 crux move, we thought this would be a good way to go for us, and it was (except for all the talus, some of which we could have avoided).
We got to the Kilpacker trail head Saturday afternoon, August 25th and backpacked in until Photo #6 from the 14ers.com route description (it says this is at about 10,700 feet). The route turns left as you can see from Photo #6 and goes up the hill but if you turn right at this point, there are several very nice campsites in the trees that are close to the creek and a small waterfall you can't see from the trail. Very nice place to camp close to water and I don't think there are any other good camp sites further up the trail. It took us about an hour and 25 minutes to backpack in to our campsite.
Our camp site
The next morning, Sunday, August 26th we left camp at 6:00am when it was still a bit dark out. We had a group of 6 people but we are all about the same pace so it worked out well. Not far from camp after the steep climb up shown in Photo #6 and then thru the trees a little ways then I think we were at about where Photo #7 was taken, we came to what looked like a fork in the trail, the left going up a ravine and the right staying on relatively flat ground going into some trees and willows - we went left but realized on the way back that the easier proper way to go is to go right. The trail is easy to follow all the way up to 12,600 where Photo #17 was taken. Then there seemed to be cairned trails all over but we just continued following the route description and the photos and it worked out great. The climbing was pretty much as everyone described, Class 3, but for us, there were a couple tricky spots just under the Organ Pipes shown in Photo #29. We had good weather and reached the El Diente summit at 9:30am. I'm sorry but most of the photos I took were from the summit with nothing new to help out to describe the route.
We left the top of El Diente at 9:45 and descended down to what we think was about 13,200 because the trip report by vorticity recommended going lower than he did which was about 13,500 because of all the loose stuff at that altitude as you head towards Mt. Wilson. Well, we now recommend going down even lower before heading towards Mt. Wilson because we had to go across some of the same very loose talus as vorticity described as steeply stacked marbles. That's exactly what it was like as everything was sliding out from under us as we tried to traverse across. If I did it again, I would drop all the way down close to where we left the trail to head up El Diente. Later, when we descended down from Mt. Wilson, we stayed at the bottom of the valley and found that is where all the bigger rock is and it's much more stable than the steep talus on the side of the valley. We wanted to stay left but you don't need to do that until you get up in the basin of Mt. Wilson. The trip reports by vorticity and highpilgrim and their photos were very helpful once you get up into the basin and can see Mt. Wilson. We followed their descriptions and just like they said, Class 3 climbing all the way to the top, just have to deal with some loose areas. We got to the Mt. Wilson summit at 11:45, just 2 hours after leaving the El Diente summit.
We didn't spend much time on top of Mt. Wilson either worried about weather coming in. We got back to camp at 2:00pm after getting a little rain and hearing some thunder in the distance. Roundtrip from camp was 8 hrs. We took a break and then packed up and backpacked out which took us an hour and 15 minutes.
Hiking out almost back to the cars
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):