Snow Climb Williams Lake Headwall 2011

Snow Climb Williams Lake Headwall 2011

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 28, 2011

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[Updated: 06/02/2011] SummitPosters, if you like this report, please vote for it, thanks! Check my profile for all my state highpoint reports.

Note: If you plan on flying into Denver and driving down to Taos, make sure you get one of those transponder from your rental car company, the E407 highway is cashless and Thrify charges $25 PER violation + whatever toll... It's rediculous, I paid $52 for 4 days for renting the transpoder and paying the toll.

Where to stay: I would definitely recommend a hostel near the Taos Ski Valley. Awesome Hostel! We paid $54 for a private room with FANTASTIC memory bed...definitely recommended. This place is about 10 miles to the trail head (20-25 minutes driving)

Definitely check out Taos, just be prepared for the heavy traffic across town, it's an interesting little town.

Getting to the Trailhead: Just follow the directions on Summitpost... two things: there are a lot of unpaved road driving and you will be driving uphill; in winter, a 4WD is required because of the steepness of the last portion of the road. Don't hesitant until you see clear signs to the trailhead, check out below picture for trailhead parking.


Trailhead parking, plenty of space!

It's pretty easy to follow the trail from here, just remember you should pass the ski lift and then turn left to follow the obvious trail sign, follow blue trail blaze all the way to Williams Lake = 2miles/1-1.5hours. We had pretty deep snow drift in the trees so we postholing all the way...


Trail Map.

A couple of things:

Follow the blue trail all the way to the lake, turn left and follow the blue trail around the lake and into the woods again. The description here is not accurate...

In late May there is plenty of soft snow in the mountain, so an early start is crucial to have some decent footing on the snow, postholing is unavoidable but still I would not recommend snowshoes, it's just too heavy and you can't move as efficient on the snow/rock mixed trail.

When you get above treeline it's hard to follow the 'trail', so bear left and choose the less steep route up to the ridge, then turn right to the summit. We climbed the headwall directly, it was pretty hard.

Gear Review:

REI 30L pack.
One Black Diamond hiking pole.
3L water, consumed 1.5L.
Gloves, hats, food, sunglasses.
Microspikes (awesome gear, used it on pretty much all the snow climbs)

Again I think you should go light so you can go faster and further. We met a couple of people on the trail they all hike light, nobody weared snowshoes.

It took us 6 hours to complete this hike.


Amazing William Lake, 1.5 hrs from trailhead, totally worth the time.


The intitial snow climb, snow condition was ok, not too many postholing.


The correct trail is to our left, to the right is the steep headwall, we went directly to the headwall, during winter there must be pretty high avalanche possibility here, and you should have ice axe and crampons for winter climb.


From this photo you can see how steep the headwall is, I think it's about 40 degrees.



Working my way up.


A brief rest on the slope, taking a picture of the mountains to our right.


After about 1.5 hours climb you get to the top directly.


Celebration on the top.


Views from the top - 1


Views from the top - 2

Immediately after we reached the top I saw a handsome marmot coming out of the summit sign... he was like "How Y'all Doing?" Looking down there were 4 mountain goats hanging out on the steep slope like it was a joke. Too bad we didn't get a chance to take photos... it was very windy up on the top.


A guy and his two dogs on the ridge, you can clearly see the trail to the left. We are ready to go down.


Gliding down the snow slope was so much fun, don't be afraid you just have to do it!


On our way to Oklahoma's HP, lots of bikers in New Mexico~




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Viewing: 1-4 of 4

maddie77777 - Jun 3, 2011 12:46 pm - Voted 10/10

I really enjoy your reports

You take lots of great photos!


sm0421 - Jun 3, 2011 11:56 pm - Hasn't voted


Thanks Maddie, I hope my report can help you prepare for your HP trips... thanks for the comments - carrying a SLR camera is not easy on a high peak :)


AriehDavid - Jun 6, 2011 2:01 pm - Hasn't voted

Nice but...

Hey friend,

nice trip report. Great pics, a nice adventure in a beautiful area well captured in your report.

A quick request as you continue your mountain adventures: even if you think you can see the entire slope below you, please, do not throw rocks down mountain slopes, for the sake of the saftey of everyone in the mountains. Thanks!


sm0421 - Jun 6, 2011 2:40 pm - Hasn't voted

Re: Nice but...

I have removed the video and thanks for the advice.

Viewing: 1-4 of 4