Good Morning, everyone!
I’m so happy to share this contribution this morning, though I’m biased by a deep love of Colorado. Should any have the chance, the drive from Durango to Telluride via Delores, etc. is just amazing, especially if you’re a trout fisher or amateur/professional geologist.
Over our anniversary, my wife and I went on our annual climbing trip, climbing another three 14,000 foot tall peaks over three days. This year we were in the San Juan Range outside of Telluride, climbing Wilson Peak, Mount Wilson, and El Diente. The Wilson group is a collection of some of the tougher peaks in Colorado. All in all, a great adventure.
This first post will concentrate on our climb of Wilson Peak. WP is a classic triangular peak, and probably very familiar to most of you. From Telluride ski area it is the peak that forms the western skyline. It is also the peak featured in caricature on the label of Coors Light beer.
Both Wilson Peak and Mt Wilson were named for AJ Wilson, the chief cartographer for the Hayden Survey. I’m not sure what AJ did to rate having two 14er’s located within a mile of each other named after him, but it was an honor to climb the peaks.
Visually, the Wilson group is overwhelming. The peaks are rugged and the climbing position is spectacular. I have decided to break our trip into a couple of posts in order to share more photos of my home state.
On to the first climb!
For our first climb, we climbed Wilson Peak. We camped at the trailhead, and we were to only people in the parking lot. We got up at an ungodly hour to eat breakfast and begin the climb. By 4:45 we were on the trail, hiking by headlamp through the forest for a couple of mile. As we broke out of the trees at about 11,200 feet, we were greeted by a spectacular sunrise.
We climbed through the Silver Pick Basin, past several Ould mines, and worked our way up to Rock of Ages saddle, near the RoA mine.
From the RoA saddle, our route headed up the southwest ridge, aiming for the false summit above. I felt like we were Frodo and Samwise climbing into Mordor, hiking across steep, sometimes loose rock.
Views from the summit were amazing. This view looks to the east. The prominent peak that is just to the right of the middle of the photo the Lizard Head Peak, one of the most dangerous climbs in Colorado. The risk of rockfall climbing that peak is very high. I was glad to have the solid rock of the Wilson Group for our climbs on this trip. Maybe someday I’ll get up the nerve to climb Lizard Head, but not this trip. Beyond Lizard Head are the four Chicago Basin 14er’s, a trip for next summer.
Another view, looking north from the summit. On the right side you can see the ski slopes of Telluride. On the skyline is another set of 14er’s, including Umcompahgre and Wetterhorn.
After lunch at the summit, we still had to descend the peak. Our route took us over the false summit, visible on the right side of the phono, and then down the long ridge the low point on the left of the photo.
Columbines in the basin. We missed seeing them in the dark on our way up.
I will submit Part 2 soon.