What Had Happened WasInclude text here.So I pulled it off. I got my brother in law away from my annoying sister for a whole weekend, and we were really stoked on New Mexico. We were gonna highpoint one day, ski the next - because we're also both doing a "Never Summer" project where we ski every month of the year...for as long as we can, I guess! Anyway, I was kinda putting the idea in his head that we were GONNA do the ridge run, cause, like, how could you not? They're all right there, this is our big shot, I don't wanna have to come back for this, etc etc. I had read a couple really helpful trip reports (shout out Monster5 over at 14ers.com https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=11148), but really I just needed to know it was possible and what class it was. 5.3 and under I'm cool; this maxed out at class 4. The whole ridge was beautifully set up: plenty of gain early on going up Taos access roads and trails, and then an easy stroll and unexposed scramble to the next summit, and then another pleasant, Sound of Music -esque stroll to Lake Fork Peak. You feel pretty good here: 3 under your belt and you're cruising. This is where it becomes a textbook Intro to Mountaineering route. Congratulations, you can walk class 2. The next ridge is sustained but very manageable class three. You lose elevation, and then more. You finally climb back up to UN 12807 for a brief rest, and then to "double check" that you're supposed to go over this steep edge. Don't worry, its not that bad and the path is direct. It seems to be both a sheep trail and a path occasionally used by whomever puts out those USGS survey markers (yeah, I got excited at the first one). Regardless, follow it. Use your hands if you need to. You CAN take the very tippy top but it'll just be real slow. Keep it class 2plus some exposure perhaps. I dunno, I coulda ran the whole thing. Only at the end, going up to Simpson Peak, did I get real thrills. Even then, I felt well within my safety zone. With solid routefinding (the game trail is pretty consistent) and high quality rock with great holds most of the time you need it, this whole route is perfect for the novice. Even the way you ease through the classes (starting easy and working towards 4), the exposure-but-lack-of-serious-falls, the way you can see your whole route...its very accessible and inspiring at the same time. And you can always make it harder, faster or longer. We added Old Mike for good measure (okay we actually weren't sure and the map blew out of my back pocket after Kachina), but I wasn't gonna pass it up! I jogged up to Mount walter and then caught him on the way to the lake. Williams Lake offers a magical place for a brief rest before the pleasant hike back. It it rewarding and magnificent to gaze above and around you...at all the mountains YOU JUST CLIMBED!
And honestly, it was John's first real mountaineering route. He had a bust on Yale and Dome Rock the month prior, so he was kinda in a rough spot. He came in determined, and he went from 0/2 to 8/8! I truly believe this is a top notch teach-em-the-ropes mountaineering route, and is thoroughly enjoyable for all who have the fitness level and right amount of Snickers in their bags (hint: 3).
Possibly Helpful StatsCampsite: right across from Bull of the Woods TH in Taos Ski Valley (clutch catch by John, only four sites!)
TH: Williams Lake, a mile and a half up the road. yeah, drive there.
Initial turn off: Ski Lift 4, to the top of Kachina Peak. Here begins the ridge run.
UN 12535 is next.
Lake Fork Peak has a cache on the summit.
Old Mike is optional but easy and nice.
Wheeler is Wheeler.
Mount Walter is another optional easy fellow, but the one next to it is fake.
Williams Lake is well worth the side hike.
I didn't go to the waterfall but probably should have.
The weather was perfect and the terrain was magnificent. I would gladly go back. We also went to Manby Hot Springs the next day for the win. Highly recommended!