Wilson Peak - 14017' - East Ridge Class 3
Gladstone Peak - 13913' - North Ridge Class 3
El Diente Peak - 14159' - North Face Class 3
Mount Wilson - 14250' - Traverse from El Diente Class 4
My Gladstone Peak Page on SP
Wilson Peak and Gladstone Peak
So Josh finally made his way to Colorado. After I picked him up from Denver we drove straight to the San Juan Mountains. The first part of our trip I was going to take him to the Wilson group. After some rest at the trailhead, we realized after walking 15 minutes of hiking up the closed road we were in fact going right into the private property that no one is supposed to be in. So we turned around and ended up losing about an hour but that was ok. We drove around to the actual Rock of Ages Trailhead and started up the correct trail. This trail headed up the valley just over from the private property and above it into upper Silver Pick Basin. We hit some remnant snow in the upper basin but easily followed the trail all the way to Rock of Ages saddle. The views of Mount Wilson and El Diente from here were fantastic. I could tell though that Josh was having a hard time with the altitude. After a good rest at the saddle we dropped our stuff and headed up for Wilson Peak. The initial hike to the next small saddle between Wilson Peak and Gladstone Peak was on a boot path. Past this the route turned into more class 3 scrambling. Josh was really slowing and we still had 600 feet to go so I told him it was best to wait the rest out while I ran up and back. The final little scramble to the true summit was a fun little traverse. I didn't spend much time here though despite the perfect weather as I needed to get back and get Josh down lower quickly. When I reached him again, he was almost asleep! We worked our way back to the saddle where we grabbed our things and descended into upper Navajo Basin. We went all the way down to a small tarn at 12,100 feet right at the base of the north face route up El Diente. It was only 1pm so we took a nap in the tent under the hot sun that Josh didn't like.
Wouldn't you know it while we slept for a few hours a dumb marmot ate mt trekking pole handles again. For petes sake they were brand new! When I woke up it was 4:30 and the sun was still hours from setting. So I also wanted to climb Gladstone Peak and after a nice nap and now sufficiently angry at the stupid marmot, it was a perfect time. I still had over three hours of daylight so I began heading back up Navajo Basin and worked my way up a very loose talus slope to reach the north ridge. I felt like I was taking one step up and sliding down two. Add too that much of the talus was actually decent sized rocks. I sent a couple slides down below me. Finally though i reached the north ridge and scrambled up the surprisingly solid crest all the way to the summit where I had beautiful late afternoon lighting on Mount Wilson. This was a perfect place to be...no one else was around at all and we had all of Navajo Basin and the Wilson group to ourselves that night. I descended and met back up with Josh who opted to sit it out to try and be able to do the Wilson/El Diente traverse the next day.
Mount Wilson and El Diente
The next morning we woke early and started the snow climb up the north face of El Diente Peak. Josh mentioned he was doing much better and we actually made it up El Diente in good time. We dropped the packs and finished the shorter section of ridge to the summit while getting lots in the route-finding which killed some time. We made it though and looking to the east though we could see the long traverse to Mount Wilson ahead of us. I was excited to embark on my first of the four great Colorado 14er traverses. We returned to our packs and checked for marmot chewing. Luckily we were spared but there were marmots nearby. We continued on the traverse going around towers, through notches and dropping below cliffs. There was one spot we had to drop 200 feet to avoid a group of large towers, then climb back up to the ridge crest. We crossed over a very narrow section of ridge with big cliffs on both sides and eventually reached the summit block of Mount Wilson. This final climb was on loose 4th class rock that was a definite no-fall zone. Going up wasn't so bad but coming down was scary. We had the whole traverse to ourselves and the summit of Mount Wilson was spectacular. I noticed many people I knew on the register. We then made the long tedious descent down the north slopes back to our tent. After quickly packing up we had 900 feet of ascending to do to reach Rock-of-Ages Saddle once again. The sun set just after we crossed over the saddle and the final hike out we did in the dark. Josh was able to make the whole traverse despite feeling horrible the previous day and I was impressed.