Mount Taylor Winter Ascent

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: Mar 18, 2009
Activities Activities: Mountaineering
Seasons Season: Winter

March 18 2009

Kessler and I set off to do a winter ascent of Mount Taylor, one of the highest mountains in New Mexico. The weather was perfect, but we weren’t sure how far we would be able to drive up FS Road 193 so we knew it could be a long haul if we wanted to climb the peak.

After an early morning start, we drove towards the trailhead and found that we could only drive two miles on FS 193 before having to stop in our 2wd low clearance vehicle. It would be over three miles each way to reach the summer trailhead (Gooseberry Trail-later we found out that there may be a shorter winter route).

Photo for trip report purposes onlyFS Road 193 was closed after only two miles so we had to walk the rest of the way.

We donned our snowshoes and after walking almost an hour and a half we wondered if we might have over shot the summer trailhead since the area was covered in snow (none of the three ranger stations/visitor centers we visited had a topo map of the mountain for sale!). We decided to head east up the mountain because it really wouldn’t matter if we were on the trail since everything was covered with snow anyway.

Routefinding through the thick forestKesser routefinding through the thick forest on the lower slopes of Mount Taylor. We never did find the summer trail on the way up, so we just headed cross country up the peak.

We climbed steeply to the ridge through the open forest and followed the ridge up the mountain. We found some scraps of trail and a couple cairns, but when we got high enough on the mountain we could see that the real trail was on the next ridge to the south and across a gaping valley.

Climbing Mount TaylorKessler climbing the lower slopes of Mount Taylor on March 18 2009.

Climb along the ridgeKessler climbing on the ridge on our approach to Mount Taylor. Some sections had deep snow and some slopes were more open since the wind blows the snow off the ridge.

We climbed our rugged ridge through the lava rock, having to remove our snowshoes once we hit the rock until we reached the real trail when we weren’t far from the summit. We put our snowshoes back on and climbed to the summit of Mount Taylor on perfect bluebird weather day. It had taken us over six hours to snowshoe the six miles to the summit, which isn’t bad for a six year old.

Mount TaylorKessler approaching the open upper slopes of Mount Taylor after a long climb through the trees.

Rocky section of ridgeHere is one of the rocky sections of the ridge (Mount Taylor). The pitch at this point wasn't too steep, but the rocky sections were a hinderance since we had to remove our snowshoes in a few places. The ridge gets steeper ahead.

Final approachKessler on the final approach to the summit of Mount Taylor on March 18 2009. Notice that much of the upper slopes are quite windblown.

Winter AscentKessler on the final approach to the summit of Mount Taylor on March 18 2009. Notice that much of the upper slopes are quite windblown.

After eating lunch and enjoying the views from the summit, it was time to head back down. We took the “real trail” down, but found that it really wasn’t an advantage or any faster than the route we took up especially in the areas that were sparse on snow. We followed the trail back to the trailhead where it was a long haul back along the snow covered road to the vehicle. It was a rewarding climb and had taken us ten hours round trip. Kessler was pretty tired and went to bed well that night. It was a record long distance for him on snowshoes and possibly for me as well.

DescendingKessler descending from the ridge on Mount Taylor after a long climb to the summit on March 18 2009.


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hgrapid - Mar 27, 2009 5:31 pm - Hasn't voted


I think you meant to list the trip report in New Mexico, but accidentally listed it as a Colorado trip.

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