Peak(s):  Wilson Peak  -  14,021 feet
Gladstone Peak  -  13,913 feet
Mt. Wilson  -  14,256 feet
El Diente Peak  -  14,175 feet
"West Wilson" - 14,101 feet
Date Posted:  09/16/2014
Modified:  10/29/2014
Date Climbed:   09/13/2014
Author:  mojah
 Wilson Group Grand Slam: Super Spicy Edition!   

Scovilles. Scovilles Everywhere

Man, what a day. And the spiciness never let up! I drove to and slept at the Rock of Ages Trailhead Friday night. Got up at 2:30 the next morning and was on the trail by 3:00. The RoA trail is very nicely marked and cairned. I had no trouble staying on it even in the dark. Props to whomever to make and keep the trail accessible. It was still dark by the time I got to the RoA saddle. I made my way up to Wilson Pk in the dark and caught the sunrise as I started making the descent. Nothing out of the ordinary here, except that there was some ice and snow on the northern aspect where you climb up past the false summit. First signs of spiciness. On to Gladstone.

Wilson Pk spiciness rating: Banana Pepper (~900 Scoville)

The rest of my day viewed from Wilson Pk in the alpenglow

As I traversed to Gladstone, I mostly stayed just under the ridge proper on the east side to stay in the sun and out of the wind blowing in from Navajo Basin. As far as traverses go, this one was kinda "meh." The climb did start getting interesting as it got steeper though, and I stayed more on the ridge proper as it did. Some more snow and ice here, but it was mostly avoidable. I descended back down the north ridge and scrambled down the big gully ~200' below the summit. There are a couple 4th class moves at the top of the gully, but nothing crazy. The gully is a narrow bowling alley of extremely loose rock for ~500 ft. A bit spicy, but not in a fun way. At the bottom of the gully, I regained the saddle and looked at the pure capsaicin that is Gladstone's south buttress. I'll maybe save that for a day in the future. Probably with technical gear and a partner to cool the heat. On to Mt Wilson.

Wilson Pk-Gladstone spiciness rating: Jalapeno Pepper (~10,000 Scoville)
Gladstone South Buttress: ??? (A lot of Scoville)

The main attactions from Gladstone

I climbed directly up Mt. Wilson's northeast ridge(buttress?) after regaining the saddle. Pretty steep scrambling, upper 3rd class most of the way, but the ice and snow made it very tedious, forcing me to choose between steep terrain (mostly) clear of snow or mellower terrain covered in ice. A bit spicier than I bargained for! Once I gained the ridge proper and rejoined the standard route, it cooled down. The last moves to the summit block were the most fun so far. On to El Diente.

Gladstone-Mt Wilson spiciness rating: Expected about Tabasco Pepper (~50,000 Scoville), got sections of Ghost Pepper (~1,100,000)

Route (roughly) up Mt Wilson from Gladstone gully
A closer look at the route from bottom of gully

Summit in view at roughly 13,900' on the ridge proper
Looking back at Gladstone from ~13,900'. Descent gully is the big one left (north) of the summit

El Diente from Mt Wilson
Wilson Pk and Gladstone from Mt Wilson

The Wilson-El Diente traverse was the most fun so far. The spiciness was juuuuuust right. Mostly solid rock made me feel confident climbing directly over the gendarmes and Organ Pipes. Hardest part was downclimbing the gendarmes at some 5th class moves. Pretty much stayed directly on the ridge here. Ran into a few groups going the other way and chatted with them for a while. It was the only time I ran into anyone else the whole day and was probably in need of a little human interaction. Thanks to those folks for humoring me.

Wilson-El Diente spiciness rating: Habanero Pepper (~350,000 Scoville)

Mt Wilson from the coxcomb
A close look at the conditions on the north face at the end of the coxcomb

The remaining route from the gendarmes
Downclimbed the shady chimney

Looking back
Gladstone and Mt Wilson from just below El Diente's summit

Upon reaching El Diente, I laid down. I stayed down for a while. It felt good to not move. I had been on the move for roughly 11 hours. Felt really thankful to the mountain gods for the superb weather. Lost track of time here as I basked in the sun. Felt soooo good. Probably spent close to an hour on the summit; a new record for time spent on a summit for me I think. I couldn't let my guard down though. I still had the descent to (not) look forward to and I was worried about all the ice and snow on the north face. From what I'd heard, the standard route up El Diente was encrusted in ice. Nope. So I checked the north buttress route to see if it was any better. Nope. Shit. It looked worse. At least the steep part that I could see. So I started to make the downclimb on the south side with the intent of traversing over to get to the notch where the north slopes route gained the ridge. A bad idea. I chose the wrong gully and found myself downclimbing steeper and steeper terrain. After pushing my luck a bit, I bailed on the idea. The walls of the gully seemed featureless and I found myself regretting trying to climb down the ~20' cliff that would have brought me so close to the bottom of the gully leading to easier terrain. So I reversed the climb back to the summit of El Diente and stayed on the ridge all the way back to the north slopes notch. Picking my way down through the patches of ice and snow proved to be just as tedious as climbing up the northwest ridge of Mt Wilson. Finally, I was back on the trail in Navajo Basin and pretty much home free. It looked like I'd still make it back to the trailhead before dark, just as I'd planned. I made it back by 7:00, for a total of 16 hours round trip.

Getting cliffed out: Carolina Reaper (~2,200,000 Scoville)
Icy north slopes descent: Ghost Pepper (~1,100,000 Scoville)

Wilson and El Diente from the RoA saddle
Gladstone and Wilson from the RoA saddle

Surprisingly, I didn't just pass out in my car, though I was not up to make the drive back home either. I slept a strangely uncomfortable night in my car and left the trailhead after a quick Clif bar and old cold coffee breakfast. I stopped in Ridgway for a real breakfast at Kate's Place. Fantastic food by the way. Would probably be my go to place for breakfast/lunch in the area. Fully recommend.

RoA TH to RoA saddle: ~2.25 hrs
RoA saddle to Wilson Pk: ~1.5 hrs
Wilson Pk to Gladstone: ~2.25 hrs
Gladstone to Mt Wilson: ~3.75 hrs
Wilson to El Diente: ~2.25 hrs
El Diente to Navajo Basin: ~2 hrs
Navajo Basin to RoA TH: ~2 hrs

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Nice work!
09/17/2014 04:12
Nice work getting all four of those peaks - very impressive! It was great running into you along the El Diente - Mt. Wilson traverse! Glad you had a successful day and could enjoy a bit of rest on the summit of El Diente. We ate at Kate's Place Sunday morning as well! Great food!

Awesome climb!
09/18/2014 05:07
Man, you had a HUGE day!! Looking forward to more epics.

09/20/2014 23:29
...rating system. On par with Tensleep's kittens, guns, american flags, and pornstars.

Nice day out.

09/28/2015 17:43
You’ve been killing these traverses lately! Great job, and huge props on doing them solo! Be safe out there!

Grand Slam
08/13/2021 20:01
El Diente-Wilson-Gladstone-Wilson Peak from Kilpacker? Thoughts?

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