Mt Wilson

22-25 Jun 2002 - by Ken Barz

Fri, 28 Jun 2002 19:40:47 -0600 On Saturday, 6/22, I backpacked into Navajo lake and awaited my partner for this endeavor. When early evening arrived I figured that I had been stood up and would be climbing solo. As I was getting ready to turn in, the GMRS walkie talkie went off and it was him way down in the lower meadow, still over two hours away. Finally, at about 11:00 he wandered into camp. I showed him to the tentsite I found for him and promptly crashed.

After sleeping in, we got a 10:30 start on Wilson Peak. The trail had no snow and minimal water all the way. From the summit we were able to see the new fire west of Telluride two valleys over. The sky was blue (if quite smoky) and the temperature scorched for the whole round trip.

The following day we set out with the intention of getting Mt. Wilson and El Diente. As the smoke was blowing another direction, we were looking forward to clear views from the top. Now I've done enough of these things to know that each peak will have its own set of challenges. But now I am of the opinion that Mt. Wilson rather bites. The only time I have seen this much rotten, loose talus before was on Maroon. (i.e. grab a handhold and the whole thing comes down on you.) Then we found a nice steep couloir that had the baby-powder scree and large rocks that would fall with minimal encouragement. Of course there was ice below so that if you slipped more than 10' or so, you were going to go for a ride, ice ax or no. Working up the sides was no help as they were crumbling as well. Getting past all of that, we arrived at the notch below the summit. Working along the ~50' knife edge provided me enough adrenaline for a week. (Dave claims it didn't phase him.) The first class 4 move is basically grab the cone of rock sticking up and rotate around it. The second one is basically a nice stretch-the-body-out, pull-up-and-commit bouldering problem. What makes it interesting is that when you set up and commit to the move, there is nothing below you for a long, long, long way. (And yes, the new fire had grown a fair bit.)

The decision not to press on to El Diente was made when Dave realized that his remaining Nalgene bottle dissappeared somewhere. After looking around in vain, I gave him half of my water (just enough to get us down to the basin) and resolved to get El Diente another day.

The trip out on Tuesday proved eventful for wildlife watching. I was assaulted by a grouse after happening upon her chick in the middle of the trail, scared a big buck deer out of some willows, and almost tripped over a snake in the middle of the trail.

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