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Wilson group logistics

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Wilson group logistics

Postby Andymcp1 » Wed Mar 13, 2013 4:48 pm

I hope to head down to the Wilson group this summer ( August), and am a bit confused by the routes. Does anyone have any advice on the routes?
1. Can you do them all from the same TH?
2. If so, is this the best way- or is better to go from different TH's.
3. I hope to take the "easier" routes up these mountains, which routes/ TH do you reccomend?

Thank you

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Monte Meals » Wed Mar 13, 2013 5:46 pm

When I climbed these (several years ago)

We got an early start up the Silver Pick Basin approach ( a dull but easy jeep road) to The Rock of Ages mine.
It was still early in the afternoon (springtime) with stable weather so we scrambled up Wilson Peak and back
before dark.

Spent the night at Rock of Ages.

Next day we hit Mount Wilson & the ridge to El Diente (with only a MODERATE amount of lightning while exposed
on the ridge) and a snow glissade back to Navajo basin before returning to Rock of Ages for the night.

Next day - hike out.

Easy Peasy - but we had almost perfect conditions.
Last edited by Monte Meals on Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Wyoming Bob » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:00 pm

Last year, new Silver Pick to Gladstone and Mt. Wilson on day one; then Wilson and traverse to El Diente next day, again from new TH. Bit boring as to repeated approach but did not want to hump the O/N gear to Rock of Ages. Two very early starts, Rock of Ages at dawn but not that hard, just long days.
Last edited by Wyoming Bob on Sat Mar 30, 2013 7:36 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby JosephG » Wed Mar 13, 2013 6:08 pm

Well, here goes:

1. It depends what you mean by “do them all from the same TH.” If you are camping, the best way is probably either (a) to pack in from the Silver Pick TH, which provides the shortest approach, or (b) pack in from the Navajo Lake TH. SP was closed still when I was last down there, so I’ll leave it to others to chime in about it. By most accounts, it is fairly straightforward. This Navajo Lake approach is longer but not particularly arduous. It allows you to set up a camp somewhere around Navajo Lake at the base of El Diente’s north slopes. I’ve heard good things about the Woods Lake approach, including that it’s more scenic and shaves off driving time, but I’ll let someone else address that, too. The problem with the Navajo Lake approach is that it forces you up El Diente’s north slopes route or possibly its north buttress. That said, a camp at Navajo Lake allows for straightforward access to all three peaks. Another option would be day-tripping twice from SP: Wilson Peak one day; Mt. Wilson and El on the other. (Edit: I see Wyoming Bob already endorsed this dual day-trip option!)

If by “do them all from the same TH” you mean all in one day, I would start at the Kilpacker TH, go up El Diente’s south slopes (which by many accounts is much nicer a route than the north slopes; I also found it fine en balance), traverse to Mt. Wilson, descend Mt. Wilson, then “run” over to Wilson Peak, descend Wilson Peak, find the trail on the north side of Navajo Lake that will lead you back down the Navajo Lake trail, and then well on your way down the Navajo Lake trail keep your eyes peeled for the signed turnoff back to the Kilpacker TH. That will be a long day.

2. A lot of people now do Wilson Peak as a day trip from Silver Pick then drive over to Kilpacker and go up El Diente’s south slopes, traverse to Mt. Wilson, then descend Mt. Wilson and meet back up with the Navajo Lake trail as described above, (descend from Navajo Lake until the obviously-marked trail split for Kilpacker and return to the Kilpacker TH). That duo by itself still is a long day, but an enjoyable one. You also could take the descent off Mt. Wilson described below. I did Wilson Peak as a daytrip from the Navajo Lake TH, which was long but very doable.

3. The south slopes route up El Diente is less tippy and less prone to rock fall than the “standard” north slopes route, but that is not to say it is by much or is particularly stable or free from rock fall. Be especially cognizant as to (1) people above you, and (2) how much precipitation has fallen in the area recently. Both contribute to slides. The traverse from El D to Mt. Wilson is pretty straightforward, particularly if you are careful not to knock down rocks and are comfortable with route-finding, scrambling, and some exposure. I took the standard route down Mt. Wilson, which I didn’t find too bad, though it can be confusing and a bit tippy if you’re not careful. Some people take a southwest-facing gully down Mt. Wilson to return to Kilpacker. I haven’t done that and will leave it to someone else to comment. The standard route up Wilson Peak is fairly straightforward. The final scramble up to the summit from the false summit goes quickly and enjoyably in good conditions.

All of the above assumes no snow. Good luck! You will remember these peaks.

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Andymcp1 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:13 am

I would plan on doing 2 or 3 days for the group. I saw a trip report on people doing El D and Mt. Wilson without the traverse and am curious about that option, as I dont think I will be up to doing the traverse. How are conditions doing it that way. What about mileage, class 3 or 4, and time? By skipping the traverse do you just descend to the shared saddle and complete Mt. Wilson from that point?

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby wildlobo71 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:35 am

The two times I went to the Wilson Group last year - wait, I actually went three times but the third time was re-climb El Diente (two weeks after first doing it) to support a friend during his finisher weekend on Sneffels...

First trip: Silver Pick Basin, hiked in to Navajo Basin and camped... snow climbed the north face gully of Mount Wilson, I failed - no one else tried El Diente, either; too risky in the weather... next day, hiked out, and attempted Wilson Peak, I failed again... it was a bad Memorial Day Weekend for me, no summit scotch visible.

Second trip: First day, Silver Pick Basin, day hike up and summit Wilson Peak - success! Back to car. Drive to Kilpacker Basin TH, sleep. Wake and Get El Diente-Mount Wilson traverse - success! Back to car. This was an excellent Labor Day weekend, not so much summit scotch, but just enough - it's a risky downclimb from Mount Wilson perfectly sober.

Third Trip: Kilpacker basin to get El D again. You're welcome, surfnturf, I keep my promises.

I highly recommend staying out of Navajo Basin - I think the south face of El Diente is much more interesting, more stable - the traverse is fun and exciting and not too difficult at all. It is a long hard descent back down Kilpacker, however but lots of great scenery and waterfalls.
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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby mtgirl » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:57 am

Good info from Wildlobo71. And I agree that the south slopes of El Diente and Mt. Wilson are the safer way to go (although all routes have lots of loose rock). My itinerary for the three peaks in August 2012 was similar to his "Second Trip", with the exception being I reversed days. I did the El Diente to Mt. Wilson Traverse from Kilpacker on day one. Then did Wilson Peak via Rock of Ages on day two. My thought was to get the harder day over with first.
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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Monster5 » Thu Mar 14, 2013 12:46 pm

Kilpacker and Silver Pick combo: easiest all-around. Drive between THs
Navajo: safest all-around, but harder (NB; would not touch north slopes). Accesses all three.

I had just about zero loose rock concerns ascending ElD's North Buttress and descending MW's north gully via snow. It is a step up in technical difficulty and the NB exit can be spicy (caveat: I was off route), but it compensates with solid rock (relative term). Both routes, and Wilson Peak, can be accessed from Navajo Basin, which is spectacular and I'd post pictures if I knew how to operate a camera.

I thought the Silver Pick (re-routed from ROA TH) approach was ugly and dull. I recommended it in the past and I apologize for that terrible transgression. It is only good for those in a time crunch wanting a short WP day trip.

An approach via Bilk looks awesome for WP and I'm surprised it isn't done more often. It is more mileage, however, and stats trump quality when it comes to us fledgling mountaineers pickin' up chicks with our peak lists and FB albums.
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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 14, 2013 1:18 pm

We did El Diente and Mount Wilson as a three-night backpack last September. We started at the Kilpacker trailhead. Hiked in and camped in lower Kilpacker in a couple of hours the first day, climbed El Diente via south slopes the second day, then moved our camp across the river to a spot along the Navajo Lake approach. The third day, climbed Mount Wilson via Navajo Basin. Then took a leisurely hike out the fourth day. We did it this way basically to avoid the north slopes of El Diente and the south slopes of Wilson, neither of which I was comfortable with. Here's an example of what south Wilson can do; all of the upper end of Kilpacker Basin looks like a giant debris field.
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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby MountainMedic » Thu Mar 14, 2013 4:48 pm

I second Monster5's rec. I did them last August from Kilpacker, coming out at Rock of Ages. Started around 3 AM, topped out El D around 9, Mt. Wilson around 11 after the traverse, dropped down into Navajo and hit Wilson Peak around 3-4 PM, out around 7 PM. It was a long day, made longer by the hours of constant attention the loose rock demands. My climbing partner and I split at the summit of Mt. Wilson (he got S. Wilson); he got the car at Kilpacker and came around to pick me up. Very doable if you have the time, fitness, and a willing partner!

EDIT: I figured the trip to be 18 miles with 8000 vert.

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Wildernessjane » Thu Mar 14, 2013 5:12 pm

I don't know how you define "easier" (less technical, distance, etc.) but we went up El Diente's North Buttress from Navajo Basin and did the traverse over to Mount Wilson. The next day we did Wilson Peak. I hear people talk all the time about how miserable El Diente is but we loved that North Buttress route. It is technically more challenging but the rock is nice and solid, which I personally would prefer over loose rock any day. Plus, Navaho Basin is spectacular.

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Re: Wilson group logistics

Postby Michael J » Thu Mar 14, 2013 11:28 pm

mtgirl wrote:Good info from Wildlobo71. And I agree that the south slopes of El Diente and Mt. Wilson are the safer way to go (although all routes have lots of loose rock). My itinerary for the three peaks in August 2012 was similar to his "Second Trip", with the exception being I reversed days. I did the El Diente to Mt. Wilson Traverse from Kilpacker on day one. Then did Wilson Peak via Rock of Ages on day two. My thought was to get the harder day over with first.


+1
I did all 3 peaks last summer and if I had it to do over again, I would avoid the North slopes of El D at all costs. Not to mention the drop from Mt. Wilson into the Navajo basin is no picnic either. If I did it again, I would do it exactly as mtgirl described.

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