Peak(s):  Gladstone Pk  -  13,913 feet
Wilson Peak  -  14,017 feet
PT 13,540 B  -  13,540 feet
Date Posted:  09/30/2020
Date Climbed:   08/09/2020
Author:  CaptainSuburbia
 Rock of Ages Scrambling Fun   

Day: August 9th, 20020

Trailhead: Rock of Ages

Peaks: Wilson Peak, Gladstone Peak and Unnamed 13540 B

Mileage/Elevation Gain: 12.7 miles and 5259 feet of elevation gain.

We left the Rock of Ages trailhead at 3:15 am towards our primary objective, Gladstone Peak. If that went well, the plan was to climb Wilson Peak since we'd be right there, and then go explore the school bus ridge and try and get a couple of those peaks. We made good time up the trail, and it was still dark when we entered the Silver Pick Basin where a fox (we think) started tracking us. He was very curious and it took a lot of noise and some rocks to chase him off when he got too close for comfort. We continued on in the dark, eventually passing the old stone cabin. From here things got a little messy. Even with a gpx file we lost the trail. Large sections of it were covered in dirt and rock debris. The moonlight helped us here, and we found some gullies that led up to the high traverse which got us to the Rock of Ages saddle before sunrise. From there it was a short jaunt over to the North Ridge of Gladstone.

Gladstone Peak as we approach it's North Ridge from the Rock of Ages saddle
Looking back at the Rock of Ages saddle and Unnamed 13540 B.

As first light hit the ridge we began the traverse to Gladstone. The summit looked far in the distance and we knew this would take a big effort. The weather was perfect as we initially made quick progress following the ridge crest. At the first of many bumps on the ridge, we elected to go low to avoid the unnecessary gain. We then quickly returned to the ridge proper where we found much better climbing. It didn't take long to learn that the crest was best.

On our way
Going low around first ridge bump
Back to the ridge
Gladstone and Mt Wilson

The rest of the way we stayed on the ridge or very close to it. Getting off the ridge meant climbing in dangerous, loose talus while the ridge itself was more stable with larger talus and big blocks. It almost looked like a fleet of Star Destroyers had smashed into it. For the most part though, if you stayed on the ridge proper, the climbing was solid and fun.

Some of the talus
Still a long ways to go
Class 4 down climb coming off of Pt 13,341
Looking back on the rollarcoaster ridge and Wilson Peak
Skirting a rise here through the talus as we approach the final summit climb.
Looking back at Wilson Peak

The final section to the summit had some of the best class 3 scrambling of the day, especially right up the spine of the ridge. Leaving the ridge here was not a good idea unless you wanted to deal with very loose talus.

The final climb to summit
Fun section here
Some solid climbing here with Wilson Peak in the background
Still lots of elevation to gain over messy blocks and talus
Final segment to summit
The last few steps to the summit

We finally reached the summit after about an hour and forty-five minutes. From the saddle of the ridge it had been about 850 vertical feet. Although there was plenty of loose rock, I didn't feel it was as bad as reports made it seem, especially if you stayed on ridge crest. The views from the small perch were astounding, especially the El Diente-Mt Wilson Traverse and The Navajo Basin far below.

Mt Wilson and El Diente
Looking down Navajo Basin

With abundant sunshine and very low winds, the weather was perfect for summit hanging. However, we had a lot left to do, so I signed the register and we almost immediately began our descent. Like the ascent, we stayed ridge proper as much as possible for the best climbing and the most efficient route. The return to the base of Wilson Peak went much quicker with less gain. We only left the ridge towards the end to avoid some unnecessary elevation gain.

Heading back!
Great view of Wilson Peak!
Where's my partner going?

Once off the ridge we immediately started our ascent of Wilson Peak. The hard part of the day was done, and now it was time for bonus fun! We had about 700 vertical feet to climb to reach the summit. My partner and I had both climbed Wilson last summer, but it's always fun to repeat. Plus, the crux of the route is a great scramble.

View of the class 3 route crux
Looking up the crux

The climbing went smooth and we reached the crux quickly. There was a bit of a bottle neck at the short, tricky down climb just before the crux. We waited that out and then enjoyed the scramble to the summit. It took about 45 minutes from the Gladstone Ridge to Wilson summit and the views were magnificent. We didn't linger though as we had one more peak to grab from the Rock of Ages saddle.

Left to right - Gladstone, Mt. Wilson and El Diente
Down climbing crux
Almost back to Gladstone Peak junction

After leaving the Wilson summit, we retraced our steps and returned to the Rock of Ages saddle. We then continued west along the saddle and started the 500 vertical foot ascent up the East Ridge of unnamed 13,540 B. This was the first of three peaks along what was known as the school bus ridge. The initial ridge (or lower ridge) up 13,540 B got steep quick as we followed a faint path over rocky terrain. The climbing was a bit loose but never exceeded class 2+. Nevertheless, it was a fun ridge scramble with lots of bumps (or points) along the way.

Starting the ascent
Approaching first bump.Not as crazy as it looks.
Standing on the first bump. The high point ahead is still not close to the summit.
Almost to the high point on the lower ridge. Climbing on the upper ridge is less steep after this.
Topping out on the high point of lower ridge about 2/3's of the way to summit.
The rest of the route can now be seen with the summit in the distance. Climbing becomes much easier from here to the summit.
More moderate climbing here and a few more bumps before summit.
Looking back on Wilson Peak
Good view of summit plus Fowler Peak.
Almost to summit.

It took less than 30 minutes to reach the summit of 13,540 B. The spectacular views of the entire Wilson Group made the effort very worth while. We really wanted to continue down the school bus ridge, but decided we were running short on time. I still had the 8 hour drive back to Fort Collins. So we turned and headed back towards the Rock of Ages Saddle and the long walk back to the trailhead.

Looking down at Fowler and Boskoff
Gladstone and Mt. Wilson
Looking back at Gladstone.
Heading back with a great view of Wilson Peak
Descent off 13,540 B and view of Wilson Peak

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions

Solid Effort
10/05/2020 12:35
That area is absolutely spectacular. Thanks on posting the quality trip report. For so many reasons. Keep it up.

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