Ascent of Wilson Peak on 2018-08-01

Climber: Marcus Lostracco

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Wednesday, August 1, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Wilson Peak
    Elevation:14017 ft / 4272 m

Ascent Trip Report

I had biked up Sunshine Mesa Road on 7/31 and noticed a huge mountain looming over the beautiful meadow. I learned it was Wilson Peak, so I had to go back and bag it!

I drove from Telluride to the trailhead at the top of Sunshine Mesa Road at 9,800 ft which leads to the Bilk Basin - this is one of the less popular routes up Mount Wilson but I found it to be really amazing. I got a pretty late start - only getting started about 11:50am. I had a good weather window and a long summer day ahead so I wasn't too concerned. The first couple miles are flat/rolling and very beautiful among tall aspen trees with some clear views of the summit in the distance. It looks huge! And far! Next there is a river crossing - I crossed too early, it's best to cross where there are logs dammed up. The trail is very obvious after this switchbacking up and eventually leading into the lush Bilk Basin. From here you can see Lizard Head Mountain from fairly close - what a crazy looking peak!

I lost the trail (not sure how) early on in the Basin which I then decided to cross over to reach the large talus field to climb up. The bushwhack across was not very easy! Thick shrubs that were taller than me. Eventually I made it to the talus field and marched upwards to reach the upper basin where there is a small lake. Then, I followed the talus rock which covered up the water flow up into another basin where there is a larger lake. Here, you can find an old mining road/trail which is a good route to get up into the top "bowl" where you are now standing with the entire ridge to Wilson Peak overhead. Very intimidating!

From here I just followed the loose talus up to the saddle. On reaching the saddle you get the dramatic view over to El Diente. After this, I followed the ridge, mainly staying high up - this was a class 3 traverse as I was using my arms quite a bit to hold myself up and at times lift myself. I noticed a trail lower down that was probably the easier way to go, but oh well, I was making good progress. I had a water bottle tied to the outside of my pack which got loose at one point and fell down the talus slope and basically exploded. I was more concerned about losing the water since I was only down to half a bottle! The final summit push really isn't that bad - just have to be smart with where you go! I stuck to the left of the ridge and there was a clear path that led me to the top. I summitted Wilson Peak at 5pm and cracked a Coors Light (this mountain is featured on the can). The summit register was an empty PVC pipe with no cap... my 3rd Colorado 14er bagged!

Going down was annoying - I took the trial I had noticed earlier which takes you right through the loose talus. I got my water bottle back and it still had a sip of water in it (the cap had exploded but the bottle was intact). I made my way down the scree, ankles taking a beating from this stuff. I was out of water but I knew there was a stream I could fill up at. First chance I had I filled my bottles and added some iodine tabs to them. Continuing on the descent back down to the Bilk Basin I found a creek which was easy to navigate down, avoiding the basin bushwhack traverse I did on the way up. I ended up finding the main trail and getting down easily. When I got to the switchbacks there was a huge owl that took off right in front of me! I made my way down to the waterfalls and I decided to go down and check them out since there was a side trail there to do so. When getting up close to the falls I tried to cross the stream. I stepped on a big rock in the shape of a cube. It immediately slid out from underneath itself causing me to fall awkwardly - I scraped my shin and landed on my pole which is now bent. Luckily I was totally fine. Got a picture of the falls and then headed back out.

I jogged the last section, feeling great and ready to be done. I had food on my mind! I returned to my car at 8:20pm - 8.5 hrs roundtrip. I reached for the pocket in my pack where I had put my car fob... and it was empty. My keys were locked inside my car and I was locked out! I could not believe it. I was furious, and in a panic. My phone was at 1% and I didn't have service. I had an emergency blanket and warm layers so I thought about spending the night and waiting on someone to come through. Then I remembered I saw a sheriff station on my bike ride the previous day not too far down on Ilium Road (which Sunshine Mesa Road connects breaks off of). I came to the conclusion that I was just going to run down there and see if they could help me out - I had the appropriate gear to do it (headlamp, layers, water, running shoes...) so I set off at 8:30 down Sunshine Mesa Road. I eventually embraced the fact that I was out there - it was a very mild night and I was feeling good. It got dark at 9pm, but the ambient moon and starlight was enough for me to not require using my headlamp. I made it to the bottom of Sunshine Mesa road by 9:15pm. I stopped to put on my headlamp before getting on the paved Ilium Road (mainly so that cars could see me - it's not a busy road by any means but there is some traffic). I reached the sheriff station at 9:55pm. I explained to them my situation and they made some calls to get a unit out to help me after taking my information. Soon enough they had a couple deputies with a lock kit arrive and give me a ride up to my car. They were really nice guys and we had some good conversations. I didn't expect to be riding in the back of a police SUV today! We got to my car and one of the deputies got it open with the hand pump tool and unlocked the car. I grabbed my keys and I was good to go!

It was now about 12:15am and I was ready for a good night rest. I stayed at the Mountainside Inn in Telluride. What a day!
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:5017 ft / 1528 m
    Extra Gain:400 ft / 121 m
    Round-Trip Distance:14 mi / 22.5 km
    Route:Bilk Basin
    Trailhead:Sunshine Mesa  9800 ft / 2987 m
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack, Scramble, Exposed Scramble
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Clear
clear but overcast and perfect temperatures
Ascent Statistics
    Time:5 Hours 10 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:3 Hours 20 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marcus Lostracco
Click Here for a Full Screen Map
Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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