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Northwest Ridge

Northwest Ridge

Northwest Ridge

Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 37.86030°N / 107.9842°W

Object Title: Northwest Ridge

Route Type: Ridge Scramble

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: 4th Class

Route Quality: 
 - 3 Votes


Page By: nickd

Created/Edited: Sep 17, 2003 / Sep 17, 2003

Object ID: 158836

Hits: 4594 

Page Score: 73.06%  - 3 Votes 

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As you drive the road toward Silverpick Basin, notice the elegant Northwest Ridge of Wilson Peak dropping from the summit. It forms the right skyline of the summit pyramid when viewed from the Telluride area. A closer look also shows the Southwest Ridge - the standard route skirts this ridge to the south, beginning at Rock of Ages Col. Begin the approach to the northwest ridge as if you were going to Rock of Ages Col. However, as you ascend the basin, stay to the left (east), following one of the myriad roads, or the trail that begins just past the large switchback above obvious private cabin/property.

Once in the basin proper, look left to see the
Northwest Ridge above a large, often snow-filled basin that faces west-northwest. The ridge climbs directly to the Wilson Peak summit, with only one small notch breaking its sweep. The west-northwest basin is a popular backcountry ski destination for locals, so look for tracks in the early season.

Leave the trail (which continues all the way to the east side of Rock of Ages Col) at about 12,000', and aim for the lowest point on the northwest ridge. This point is just left (nw) of the
obvious notch. Follow scree, then weaknesses in the steep rock to the ridge at about 13,000'.

Route Description

Once on the ridge, the route is obvious. There are a number of 4th class passages, and the rock is quite broken in places. Staying to the ridge proper requires a few 5th class moves. These can generally be passes on the left.

Descend your ascent route, paying attention to return to the lowest point on the ridge. Don't try and descent at the notch, unless you are prepared to rappel.

Essential Gear

In the early season an ice ax is useful in attaining the ridge. Otherwise, good approach shoes will suffice for the ascent/descent.

Miscellaneous Info

This is a very efficient and direct way to climb Wilson Peak. Suprisingly, I have never seen it mentioned in any guidebook, and have never seen anyone on it while skiing or climbing in the area. It is an attractive alternative to the trade route for those comfortable with 4th class scrambling on the scale of Mt. Wilson or Gladstone Peak.

Of course, you can also use the west-nortwest basin to reach the Southwest Ridge proper and follow that to the summit. This is about the same difficulty as the Northwest Ridge.


Looking down at a crux...View of Wilson Peak from the...The Northwest Ridge of Wilson...A closer view of Wilson...The Northwest Ridge of Wilson...