Descent route down the NW...

Descent route down the NW face to Williams Lake viewed from Wheeler summit (9-1-03). You only go UP this face if you don't know any better or your testosterone level is so high it routinely clouds your thinking. Bull-of-the-Woods trail is not only more pleasant and far more beautiful, both coming and going, but takes the same amount of time as does the linearly shorter ascent via Williams Lake, which involves clawing your way straight up a solid mile of 50% grade, 95% of which is scree or crumbling soil. There are absolutely no mitigating, technically-rewarding challenges to be found here. The trailhead for the descent begins just over the hump beyond the small figure on the summit ridge trail at right. If you do descend this way, a walking stick is recommended, as are boots that don't allow your toes to be shoved into the boot toe with every step – and NB: dislodged stones can tumble for hundreds of yards, so be mindful of those below.


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densityaltitude - Dec 28, 2003 5:37 pm - Hasn't voted

Williams Lake route up Wheeler Peak

Actually most people take this route. It's only four miles and 3,000 feet climb. The official trail is painful--twice the elevation gain (all things considered) and twice the length. Plus the first two miles is steep, ugly and has too much horse manure. I always wrap ankles, heels and tips of several toes with moleskin to avoid blisters. Also it's important to keep your pace down to avoid getting nauseous. During my last annual hike up Wheeler, I was passed by a jogger going UP. Aparently that wasn't enough for him, because I passed him jogging on the road while I was driving out of the area.

Alan Ellis

Alan Ellis - Dec 28, 2003 9:19 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Williams Lake route up Wheeler Peak

I think a lot of people are fooled by the short distance of the Williams Lake route. However, the interminable scree slope makes them regret it. Yes, it's short and it gets you to the summit, but you don't get the fantastic scenery that the Bull of the Woods trail offers. A great option is to use the Bull of the Woods up, then take the Williams Lake route down. ......the best of both worlds.

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