Rachael and I started from Bull-of-the-Woods trailhead, summited Walter, Wheeler, Simpson, Old Mike, "Fairchild", Lake Fork and Kachina and then descended the ski area back to the car. Some fun scrambly sections between Simpson and "Fairchild" and again to get up Lake Fork. Long loop, not sure the mileage of vert but we took about 9 hours to complete it. Note, this mountain is unofficially known as Fairchild Mountain on other sources.
It was the 3rd of 3 summits that day. Kachina, Lake Fork and Bighorn. Fun day. Did not continue to Simpson, but downclimbed the saddle between Lake Fork and Bighorn. Next time I'll try the rest of the traverse. Great ridge walking. All in all, the toughest was maybe 2+. Next time I'll bring the dog.
The most difficult climb I’ve done so far, but also one of the most exhilarating. I’ve done more than a dozen other ascents over 12, 000 feet but mostly on trails or at worst some scrambling across boulder fields. This one demands bush whacking through woods and deeply weeded areas; long, steep boulder fields; and some climbing on all fours approaching technical climbing grasping for hand holds. I did it by myself, which was probably foolish as I had a fall and minor injuries on the way down. A couple of other trip reports I read on line before going don’t emphasize these challenges. Probably the climbers were younger and more experienced than I am. I will be 63 in four days. I don’t imagine too many other geezers have been up here lately!
I left the Williams Lake trailhead at 11:20 AM and made it to Williams Lake in 49 minutes (my fastest time in eight trips) with another ten minutes around the west side of the lake. From there several semi-paths lead into the woods. I took one just south of the first major stream with small waterfalls. Coming back I took another just east of the second cascading stream. From the lake it’s about half a mile through the trees to a large marshy and heavily weeded meadow and then a treeless chute resembling a ski slope. It took me 30 minutes from Williams Lake to the top of the meadow and the bottom of the chute where it gets increasingly steep. At that point I’d estimate (I don’t have a GPS so it’s just a guess.) the elevation at around 11,500 leaving about 1300 feet to the top.
That 1300 feet took me about 2 hours and a quarter. One trip report recommends heading for a saddle east of the peak, but it looked to me like cliffs that would be dangerous to climb without ropes topped the saddle. I headed up the chute to a smaller series of cliffs and rocky outcroppings just west of the peak. From below it looked like narrow, grassy and walk able slots penetrated the rocks. When I got there, I discovered that was not the case, and I had to climb up on and handholds. The last few scrawny trees sit atop these rock faces. From there it’s another 700 feet up of steep rock and boulder scrambling to the ridgeline about 100 feet below the peak. The ridgeline is relatively level with several cairns holding USGS markers.
Impressive views in all directions make it well worth the effort. To the southwest you see Taos and vicinity in the distance and farther off the Jemez Mountains; to the South Jicarita Peak and the Truchas Peaks; to the Southeast Angel Fire, the Mora Valley and beyond; immediately below the peak a series of lakes on Taos Pueblo land; West the entire Wheeler Peak range; North Gold Hill and successive peaks all the way to Colorado.
I headed down after a half hour on top. Coming down, predictably, seemed more dangerous than going up. Finding safe footing coming down the rock faces scared me a bit. At the bottom of the rocks I stepped onto snow patch that apparently masked a sheet of ice, my feet slipped out from under me and I skidded twenty feet on my back like an overturned turtle into the top of the boulder field resulting in a six inch gash on my right forearm and various bruises. After patching myself up with first aid supplies, I headed gingerly down the boulder field to the meadow where I ran into a Taos teen hiking group bivouacked for the night. They seemed surprised when I told them where I had been. Time down—2 hours and forty minutes including a 20 minute rest stop enjoying afternoon sunshine at Williams Lake. Back to the area at 6:05 P.M. Total elapsed time: 6 hours 45 minutes. Actual hiking/climbing time: 5 hours 40 minutes.
Skinned up NW face x2. Skiied NE face (from summit) then NW face. Also booted up and skiied the NE facing coliour on the ridge to the west, between Sin Nombre and Lake Fork Peak. Down by 3pm, overnight at lake.
Hiked up from Williams lake on a steep Class 2 slope. Saw a herd of 6 Bighorns. Nice views, perfect weather.
Climbed the ridge from Kachina all the way to Wheeler. We hit Kachina Peak...An unnamed peak, Lake Fork Peak, "Bighorn Peak",Pt 12,728, Simpson, Old Mike, Wheeler, and then Walter. Started at 7:20am and then finished at 5:30. We started at the Williams Lake Trailhead. Amazing day! The weather somehow cooperated with us the whole time. Very fun traverse. Saw lots of Elk, Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Goats. SO MUCH FUN!!
Climbed Bighorn as part of Kachina-Wheeler ridge traverse. Snow on the ridges and summit. Fun scramble on the way to UN 12,728.
I've skied off it several times, but the only time i went to the true summit was when I did the Wheeler cirque from Lake Fork to Wheeler. We snow climbed up a N facing couloir on the east ridge of Lake Fork and descended down the W side of Wheeler. (edit: skied off the exact summit and down the N chutes on May 8, 2009 and again on May 22, 2011.)
Watched the sunrise over Wheeler and Simpson Peaks. Massive Bighorns filled the air with their musky scent.
Beautiful day until I was chased down by a thunderstorm. Saw a couple herds of bighorn sheep.