Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2012-07-12

Climber: Greg Bramlet

Others in Party:None
Date:Thursday, July 12, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Wheeler Peak
    Elevation:13063 ft / 3981 m

Ascent Trip Report

Start at trailhead 8:30AM
Arrive summit at 4:00PM
Thunder and overcast skies with rain after 10 minutes on summit.
Upon descent of headwall, winds at 40 mph with increasing rain and grauppel snow.
First and second steps, 40mph wind and horizontal rain.
In saddle, 60 mph wind with horizontal rain. 6" steps to remain vertical. Much erosion in saddle area and difficult to stay on trail that is not well marked anyway. Arrive at timberline approximately 7:30 to 8:00 pm. Disconnected from trail system and ended in next valley over. Bushwacking at this point and would have to do a lateral traverse to my right to gain sight of Wheeler campground. Climb to top of the ridge instead to assure a direct line of sight and minimize risk.

Time to use headlamp but a point of futility that only increased the risk of hypothermia. Still thoroughly soaked and chilled from the pounding horizontal rain. Could not see more than 10-15 feet ahead. Realized that I am benighted and should prepare to pass the night.

Came across a moment of clarity that made me choose a pine tree low to the ground as bivy site. Thick bed of needles with enouth overhead to provide some protection from the night drizzle. Hunkered down to pass a very surreal night.

Dawn and I could target east and approximated path to my vehicle.
Got back to trailhead about noon. Set a park return trip record of about 28 hours that included the bivouac.

Suffered painful chilblains to fingers of both hands.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3063 ft / 933 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3063 ft / 933 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.6 mi / 13.8 km
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack
    Gear Used:
    Nights Spent:1 nights away from roads
    Weather:Raining, Cold, Extremely Windy, Low Clouds
Severe Storm on Descent
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3063 ft / 933 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.9 km
    Start Trailhead:Summit Trailhead to NNW Ridge  10000 ft / 3048 m
    Time:7 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3063 ft / 933 m
    Distance:4.3 mi / 6.9 km
    End Trailhead:Summit to NNW Ridge Trailhead  10000 ft / 3048 m
    Time:10 Hours 

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