This deeply inset and well-hidden line on Mt. Wilson doesn’t get climbed (or skied) often. The approach is rather long and can be somewhat burdensome to access. However, due to its eastern aspect and sheer walls that guard the lower flanks, Boxcar holds snow well into spring and early summer. This couloir typically does not ice up.
The couloir is roughly 1360’ long. One enters it at around 12,240’ and exits onto a slightly tilted plateau at 13,600’. The apron adds another ~100’ give or take, conditions pending of course.
Inclination measurements are as follows:
Boxcar is popular predominantly with backcountry skiers. Most people ascend the northeast couloir (a wide, open couloir), summit Mt. Wilson and ski back down Boxcar. However, that’s not to say that climbers can’t utilize this aesthetic line to summit Wilson. This is a great way to grab a 14er summit using a line that lies off the “tourist circuit”. The views of Gladstone Peak from this vantage are inimical and ferocious. But due to the hidden nature of this side of the mountain, the rest of the Wilson group isn’t visible until one reaches the ridge.
The approach for Boxcar (and the NE Couloir) is via Slate Creek. To start, leave the round-a-bout outside Telluride and drive south on Colorado 145 to the top of Lizard Head Pass. This should be about 12 miles. Crest the pass and continue for another 2.3 miles to the Cross Mountain Trailhead. This will be on the right (north). It is accessible in the winter.
Follow Cross Mountain Trail (a decent dirt trail, easy to follow) north into the forest towards Lizard Head Peak. There is no trail leading up into Slate Creek. This is where a map, GPS, Gaia, etc. will come in handy to navigate through the trees. Leave Cross Mountain Trail striking left (west) anywhere between half and three-quarters mile.
Stay on a northwest trajectory following the contour intervals of least resistance. Take pains to NOT descend too early to the valley bottom as there are cliffs near the exit of Slate Creek. Eventually you’ll pop out near treeline at the bottom of the south face of Cross Mountain. The inimical profile of Gladstone Peak will now be visible.
Trek northward into upper Slate Creek on mellow snow rollers and hills. Around 12,240’ on the left (west), Boxcar will come into view. Walk as far towards the couloir and apron as sans-crampons will allow. Time to gear up!
Route Description forthcoming.....
This is a short climb. So other than possible flotation (snowshoes, skis), plan on having an axe and crampons. Anything else is players choice.
Some decent pics and beta for the approach into Slate Creek. Mt. Wilson via Slate Creek
Via 14ers.com- Mt. Wilson via Boxcar Couloir
Fatmap. This interactive 3D map is INSANE.