Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2013-05-30

Climber: Tye Scott

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Thursday, May 30, 2013
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Wheeler Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13161 ft / 4011 m

Ascent Trip Report

I arrived in Taos the night before to give myself a quick look at the terrain and trail options before the accent the next morning. Wanting to get an early start on Wheeler (and who am I kidding, being cheap) I decided to camp up at the trailhead at Twining campground. It literally lies next to the parking lot and trailhead. It's plain and simple but offers a great spot for star gazing plus they have picnic tables and fire rings. Availability might be limited since I only saw 3 sites but there are plenty of other free options within the last 8 miles of road to the ski village (Lower Hondo, Italiano, and a few other random sites along the stream).

From what I'd read from previous reports the Bull-of-the-Woods route was the way to go provided you didn't mind hiking a little extra. Since time was on my side this was the route I went with and set off just before sunrise. The first 1.8 miles leads you through the trees and along the stream to Bull-of-the-Woods pasture and from there you essentially follow a cat-track for another mile or so up to Red River Canyon Overlook. This first section is moderately steep but the scenery is pleasant enough to distract you from noticing.

The next few miles take you alongside a ridge that leads you through La Cal basin. If you want to bag Bull-of-the-Woods & Frasier Mtn while you're out they're just off the beaten path. Once you pass the La Cal and get to the next ridge you've pretty much got the uphill parts behind you. Following this ridge leads you up over Walter Mtn and on to Wheeler Peak. The views from here become more expansive and impressive.

The winds were exceedingly strong (in excess of 50 mph with gust in the 75-100 mph range) plus parts of the trail were still covered in snow. Having been blown off the path a couple times earlier in the day I opted to go off trail to get some wind protection. Up at the summit there's a nice rock wind breaker but the winds were howling. I tried getting some photos of me leaning into the wind but the gusts kept blowing my tripod over. I did manage to take a quick photo of the summit and after only 20 minutes spent at the top I started my way back down.

Overall a very pretty hike with great views. I saw 10 sheep throughout the day and no other hikers. If you happen to go early in the season you can get a good idea of the snow levels by checking out the ski cams on Taos.

On a side note - If you're looking for a place to grab a beer and a bite to eat stop off at KTAOS. It's on the way up to the Taos Ski Resort parking lot. Great food, friendly people, and fun, local vibe.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3761 ft / 1146 m
    Total Elevation Loss:3761 ft / 1146 m
    Weather:Cold, Extremely Windy, Clear
Sustained winds of 50+ with gusts 75-100 mph
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:3761 ft / 1146 m
    Start Trailhead:Twining Campground  9400 ft / 2865 m
    Time:2 Hours 45 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:3761 ft / 1146 m
    End Trailhead:Twining Campgroun  9400 ft / 2865 m
    Time:2 Hours 10 Minutes

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