Wheeler Mtn
(13,690')

13 Jul 2003 - by Darcy Straub

Wheeler Mountain is one of the handful of Front Range peaks over 13,000' that actually requires some climbing to reach its summit by the easiest route. I haven't heard too much about the difficulty of Wheeler Mountain. Martin and Garratt state some moderate climbing is required to reach the summit, and I heard a BMS instructor had to administer first aid to a student who impaled himself with an ice axe in the thigh during a spring ascent. Other than that . . .

The climb of Wheeler is uneventful until one reaches the saddle at 13,400'. From this point, one climbs along the northwest side of Wheeler's southwest ridge. The climbing is mostly class 2+, with a few class 3 moves thrown in for good measure. There's a little loose rock, but compared to other ranges, it's nothing. A faint climber's trail is present for much of the way from 13,400', and cairns delineate the route where necessary. One ultimately reaches the summit by a class 3, 10-foot chimney.

Wheeler is probably a good warm-up for many class 3 Fourteeners -- it's close to Denver, not too long, and the exposure is minimal.

Other Observations:

We started from Montgomery Reservoir and followed the Middle Fork of the South Platte. This basin is becoming very popular with the jeep crowd. On the way down, there must have 5 or so jeeps at Wheeler Lake, and many more driving to and from.

We finished at about 3:30 and wondered if we should take I-70 home or US 285. We opted for the latter and we didn't encounter any delays. Recent road construction near Conifer has eliminated the two stop lights which created the backups in years past (so I speculate).


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