Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2012-02-21

Climber: Shane Vaughan

Others in Party:Shane Groves
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Wheeler Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13161 ft / 4011 m

Ascent Trip Report

Left out for Williams Lake at 8am from the last leg of the maintained road past the far ski lift. We had the advantage of a friend who was willing to drop us off. (Take a left uphill past the gates at the last lift and the grill. No parking here only dropoff) Snowshoe in to the lake in deep snow but otherwise unremarkable. Taos ski area was reporting 3+feet of new snow since Feb. 6inches 2 nights ago. At the lake the last snowshoe trail stopped and we were on our own. We broke trail staying in the trees. This was a very hard climb (snow past waste in the treeline) This was my friend's first hard climb and he threw in the towel at around 12000 feet. Since he dug in I got rid of my pack and everything but my snowshoes, poles, radio and tracker then made my way up. I had to cut switchbacks for over 2hrs to get out of the trees. This is when it became dicy. I broke loose a slab about 30m x 60m and flushed a chute. I crossed the best place and got on rocks and did not leave them. I have never broke anything loose under snowshoes before (only snowboarding). I finished the climb to the summit on snowblown rocks to find the canister register frozen shut and 40mph+ gusts on the ridge. I quickly made my way down (on my butt most of the way.) I had to traverse the same chute I broke loose. I did so quickly and with a lightfoot. I made my way back to S. Groves and my pack and we then down to the lake around 3pm. I ate like 5 nutragrain bars 2 enerygels and 600ml of water. and we pounded the lake trail out. Bad time to climb this Mt. In the current conditions I would suggest at least a 3 man team. Winter climb exp. a must.
Summary Total Data
    Elevation Gain:3771 ft / 1149 m
    Elevation Loss:3771 ft / 1149 m
    Grade/Class:2 snow
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Snow on Ground, Exposed Scramble, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Crampons, Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Nights Spent:0 nights away from roads
    Weather:Snowing, Frigid, Very Windy, Low Clouds
Cold, light and hard blowing snow with gusts of 40mph
Ascent Statistics
    Elevation Gain:3771 ft / 1149 m
    Route:Williams Lake
    Trailhead:Dead end road past the far ski lift  9390 ft / 2862 m
    Time Up:6 Hours 
Descent Statistics
    Elevation Loss:3771 ft / 1149 m
    Trailhead:9390 ft / 2862 m
    Time Down:2 Hours 30 Minutes

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