Brian and I took a late August trip down to the San Juan mountains to climb Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente. As one of the four great traverses in Colorado, I was very much looking forward to the ridge run from El Diente to Wilson Peak.
|Approaching Ridge Crest|
|El Diente ascent to ridge|
|First good scramble|
|El Diente Summit|
|El Diente to Wilson Traverse|
I made it to the trailhead and found Brian's vehicle before midnight. I hit the bag immediately in the back of the Frontier under the stars. Brian and I got a good start the next morning on our way to El Diente. The first part of the trail is a nice but never ending hike through the woods in the basin. Eventually the waterfall comes into view and the ascent starts in earnest.
Once on the ridge line, the final push to the top of El Diente is quite an interesting scramble. We made the top and took some great pictures. There were a couple of military guys on top as well as a guy and gal hiking partners.
I made my way to the ridge crest and spied other scramblers. The views are spectacular and the route is epic. The next section involved a lot of easy but very engaging scrambling. It takes some time, but there is nothing I would rather be doing. Then I came to the crux ramp. This looks quite ominous and I had time to evaluate the approach as other climbers ahead of me were planning theirs. One of the three in the group decided not to even tackle the pitch and bailed off the ridge.
The climb of the ramp was definitely Class 4 and probably lower Class 5, but I was never nervous due to the nice selection of holds and the solid rock. I would like to put down more adjectives to describe this awesome section and will do so as more memories come to me.
The final pitch to the top of Wilson Peak turned out to be quite a challenge. There is one rock that takes an awkward belly-rubbing pull to get over. It was even tougher coming down. There is some exposure here to make it even more interesting. Coming down as a short guy leaves ones feet dangling, searching for any kind of a footing. In the end I survived and was the last guy off the summit.
I heard Brian shouting from down in the valley and assumed he was headed back home. I couldn't exactly make out the words, but was still amazed at how voices carry in the mountains. I was trying to keep up with the others just to make sure I was on the right track. Part of the way down the descent, I realized that their group was taking a different route than Brian. I wanted to be sure and hook up with Brian eventually, so I had to make my way back up to the ridge. This was a bit of an endeavor because I was already spent of energy and more ascent was not easy.