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Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2011-07-23

Climber: Richard Oestreicher

Date:Saturday, July 23, 2011
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Wheeler Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13161 ft / 4011 m

Ascent Trip Report

Yippiekiyeah! The Forest Service has built a new trail up Wheeler Peak to replace the informal use trail up from Williams Lake. This one includes numerous switchbacks and good footing most of the way with only occasional patches of scree and rocks. A dramatic improvement over the old route! I especially appreciated it coming down since I was moving fast to get off the mountain before an approaching thunderstorm. The loose scree on the old route would have made that difficult.

I parked at the Williams Lake trailhead, and set out on a route I've done many times. At 0.67 mi. a forest service sign says it's 2 miles to Williams Lake--my GPS track gave the distance as only 1.25 from this point. Since I didn't know about the new trail, I went to Williams Lake and then headed up the old use trail. The Lake had only about half the water it usually has, a consequence of the severe drought in New Mexico. Around 11,300 feet I ran into the new trail (marked occasionally with blue blazes). Marmots and chipmunks greeted me at the top, but I could not have an extended conversation with them because approaching thunderheads convinced me to head straight down.

On the way down I took the new trail to its intersection with the Williams Lake trail. If you're heading up the Williams Lake Trail, the turnoff is a sharp left (easy to miss) about a quarter mile before Williams Lake.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3091 ft / 942 m
    Distance:8.3 mi / 13.4 km
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3091 ft / 942 m
    Extra Loss:90 ft / 27 m
    Distance:4.2 mi / 6.8 km
    Trailhead:10160 ft / 3096 m
    Time Up:2 Hours 47 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Time Down:1 Hours 38 Minutes



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