Distance: ~10.2 milesElevation Gain: ~3100'
Wheeler MountainAfter turning back on the Northeast Couloir on November 24, 2007 due to avalanche danger, I decided to attempt Wheeler Mountain from the standard South Ridge.
North Star Mountain & Mount Silverheels, from front to back
I got to the Montgomery Reservoir Trailhead in less than 2 hours from Boulder via 285. I started hiking up the Wheeler Jeep Trail at the road closure at 9:10 am. There were many people climbing the Lincoln Ice Falls. However, I was the only person traveling beyond the falls. I continued up the icy trail to Wheeler Lake, then traveled cross country on the lake's west side while trying to minimize postholing. The climb up to the upper lake was primarily dry. I made my way above the lake where the worst postholing ensued just below the saddle on Wheeler Mountain's south ridge. I should have probably brought snowshoes or even gaitors. On top of the ridge, the winds were nearly unbearable. The winds influenced my route finding process keeping me on the east, leeward side of the ridge where possible. This put me on some 5.easy, but was worth it in order to minimize my exposure to the wind.
"Drift Peak" & Fletcher Mountain, from left to right, from Wheeler Mountain
Some of the sections of the ridge were quite fun, but sometimes dangerously loose. At one point, my foothold broke loose, but was not phased since my hands were bomber. The snow was primarily unconsolidated, but there were sections of consolidated snow and ice on the southeast side of the ridge. My crampons and/or ice axe were never used. I reached the summit at 1:28 pm. The winds were not so bad on top, so I decided to take a few photos after signing the register. According to the register, nobody else had been on the summit since October. I made my way down the windy ridge, then postholed down the slope below the saddle and continued past both lakes. I descended directly down the drainage below Wheeler Lake, then met up with the Wheeler Jeep Trail. I followed the trail back to the trailhead. I made it back to the car 7 hours after starting.
Quandary Peak from Wheeler Mountain
Map. Click to enlarge.
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