Because of BC’s previous high altitude problems (not making it on Humphrey’s
and going painfully slow on Guadalupe), JO and BC had discussed a strategy of
beginning these high altitude hikes very early in the morning, before dawn, so
we could be back at the car by the afternoon, and BC could go at a comfortable
speed without killing himself.We decided
to go with this strategy, and in the end, it worked beautifully.
Highpoint: Wheeler Peak State: New Mexico Height: 13161 ft. Highpoint #: 39 (JO), 36 (BC) Date: 8/2/2004 Trails: Williams Lake Trail Distance: 7 miles roundtrip Vertical Gain: 3300 ft. Time Taken: 8 hours Weather: Chilly and breezy before dawn, sunny and clear after dawn, 70’s Group: JO and BC Comments:We decided to take the
Williams Lake route up Wheeler Peak, which is by far the shorter, but steeper
route.You first hike just over 2 miles
to Williams Lake, gaining about 1000 feet, then you head east up the slope
towards the saddle between Mount Walter and Wheeler Peak.This slope is extremely steep.We left the WilliamsLake trailhead at about on Monday.It was a nice night, a little chilly.We made it to WilliamsLake a little before 4, and then
headed east up the steep slope.At about
12000 feet, as we were making our way past the last few groves of trees on this
route, JO realized that he was getting very cold and that it would only get
colder as we ascended.We decided it
would be best to rest and wait until sunrise, when it would warm up a bit.So we climbed under the last grove of trees
on the slope and promptly fell asleep.We awoke at about to
a brightening sky, and resumed our hike.The very top section of this slope was nothing but loose scree at close
to 40-degree inclines, which was quite treacherous.We reached the saddle at just after and went over a couple small false summits
to make the summit right at .BC was jubilant, as this was by far his
highest summit, and he was suffering no ill effects from the altitude.We stayed on the summit for about 30 minutes
resting and taking pictures, and then we headed back down.The steep scree slope which was so
treacherous on the way up seemed even more treacherous on the way down, until
we stopped trying to catch ourselves, and basically just slid down the entire
slope, in a skiing motion.This allowed
us to rocket back down to WilliamsLake
before , and we were back at the
car by .Success!
A look upwards, about 2/3 of the way to the saddle between MountWalter and Wheeler Peak.
Along the summit ridge, looking back towards MountWalter.
JO on the summit of Wheeler Peak.
BC victorious at last, 13,161 feet.
A look down from the summit, with WilliamsLake at the bottom center.
Back down at WilliamsLake,
one last look back up at the vanquished mountain.The grove of trees just left of center
directly under the bowl is where JO and BC waited for sunrise.
BC’s success did not come without some scars, however.In what would become a major source of pain
for the rest of the trip, BC’s toes, specifically his big toes, were extremely
sore from sliding down the slope of scree and stones and BC was walking
gingerly for a couple days.