Wheeler Mountain - South Ridge

Difficulty:  Class 3 
Summit Elevation: 13,690 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 10,950 feet
Elevation Gain:2,900 feet
Round-trip Length: 9.25 miles
Trailhead: Montgomery Res.
Author: BillMiddlebrook
Route Added: 08/23/2005
Last Updated: 08/02/2015
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Less than 1 mile south of Hoosier Pass, take the County Road (CR) 4 west from Colorado 9. Start measuring mileage when you turn onto CR 4. At 0.3 miles, stay straight. At 0.6 miles, stay straight. At 0.8 miles, go right on the higher road. At 1.4 miles, reach the parking area at Montgomery Reservoir. Cross a small bridge and continue around the reservoir. Near 1.6 miles, the road gets a little rough. Climb the hill for a bit and locate a turn-off to the left - at 1.7 miles. Turn left and park near a water shed and concrete wall. This is the trailhead.


From your parking spot near west end of Mongomery reservoir, hike west up the rough Platte Gulch 4WD road (Photo #1 and Photo #2) for 2.5 miles. Stay right at a junction and continue to Wheeler Lake (12,168’), 3 miles from the trailhead - Photo #3 and Photo #4.

At the lake, walk along the shore toward a grassy headwall, northwest of the lake - Photo #5. Pass an old car (Photo #6) and follow trail segments and/or cairns next to a stream to reach the top of the headwall at a small, unnamed lake - Photo #7. Cross the lake outlet and follow an old trail north above this lake - Photo #8. If you lose the trail, keep hiking north above the northeast end of the lake. Above 12,600’, reach a flat area with evidence of an old mine. Turn northwest and continue toward the small saddle on Wheeler’s south ridge - Photo #9. The route may appear a bit confusing from this area - locate the saddle and simply work your way northwest up through rock slabs and outcroppings. Look for small cairns but also keep your eye on that saddle. Above 13,100’, the remaining hike to the saddle becomes more obvious - zigzag up the grassy slope to reach the saddle - Photo #11.

The remaining route is more serious and this is a good place to put on your helmet. The summit is 1/4 mile away and some Class 3 scrambling is required. The easiest route to the summit does NOT go directly up the south ridge but instead, traverses north across Wheeler’s upper west face. Walk to the west side of saddle and look for trail segments or cairns - Photo #12. Continue onto the west face and begin our up-and-down traverse over several rock ribs - Photo #13, Photo #14 and Photo #15. There are several areas where you will climb up onto a rock rib only to have to drop again to avoid cliffs up to your right. Work your way to an area where you can see the summit ahead - Photo #16. The summit is not obvious but if you look carefully, you’ll notice a large "Y" of white rock on the west side - Photo #16 and Photo #17. Ascend to the wall below the summit and pick your line to the top. The easiest option may be to climb toward a notch on the left and traverse right across small, easy Class 3 ledges just below the summit before turning left to gain the top - Photo #18. Photo #19 and Photo #20 show the views.


Stock vehicles shouldn’t attempt the very rough 4WD road up from the trailhead. This is one of the roughest roads in the area.


Photo #1 Photo #2 Photo #3 Photo #4 Photo #5 Photo #6 Photo #7 Photo #8 Photo #9 Photo #10 Photo #11 Photo #12 Photo #13 Photo #14 Photo #15 Photo #16 Photo #17 Photo #18 Photo #19 Photo #20