Ascent of Peak 12014 on 2020-09-18
|Other People:||Solo Ascent|
|Date:||Friday, September 18, 2020|
|Ascent Type:||Successful Summit Attained|
| Location:||USA-New Mexico|
| Elevation:||12014 ft / 3661 m|
Ascent Trip ReportDeparted Albuquerque at 6am and started just before 9. I left Zeus at home for this one, which turned out to be a good decision for a couple reasons. First, he wouldn't have been able to navigate some of the ridge sections between peaks 12,819 and Simpson. Second, there was a little snow but no water. The weather was unbelievable - a beautiful, warm day with barely a breeze (albeit smokey from the CA and OR fires), so that shorts and a short sleeve shirt was all I needed the whole day.
Taos is expanding into the downhill summer mountain biking scene, so the route that I'd taken up last summer (in my failed attempt due to construction below Kachina) now had "DO NOT ENTER downhill biking only" signs for most of the route that I ascended. Since it was early on a Friday, there were no bikers yet and I ignored the signs. My guess is they're encouraging people to ride the lift and hike the Highline trail to Kachina, but there was no signs of where I should hike, other than to Williams Lake. Because of COVID masks were required.
After I made it to the Kachina chair base, I pretty much went straight uphill, and eventually found the resemblance of a trail marked with pink dots. Construction was finished late last summer on the avi control structures that are placed at the top of the runs. From the top of the Kachina chair, the fun part of the trail began. A quick stop at the cairn atop Kachina and I ducked under the boundary rope to begin. The route stays pretty much at the top of the ridge the entire way. There are a number of features at different sections along the route that require easy climbing (Class 3), but nothing I thought felt dangerous. Many sections looked from a distance much tougher than they turned out to be with most bringing a smile to my face. Once or twice I ascended too high and dropped down 10-15 ft, but always found a relatively easy and safe route around the feature. Stav Basis has a good description with pictures of the route. The views are spectacular the entire way with unending views of all the surrounding 12K peaks. I've now hiked Wheeler three times - while backpacking up from Angel Fire and running from Bull of the Woods and again hiking (then descending to Williams Lake). This has to by my favorite route. First the views and the thrill of the route of course, but there was nobody on the route - I didn't see anyone until I reached Wheeler. The register atop Peak 12819 dated back to 2012 and was only a few pages long.
From Simpson I traversed the short distance to Old Mike. A bit of a cornice had built up on the leeward side from the snowfall last week - it had all melted from south-facing aspects. From Old Mike I descended the ridge and made my way to Peak 12014. It looked a more difficult climb from the north-facing aspect, so I continued a bit further south and ascended a steep slope before circling back north. From the peak, I saw that it wasn't so bad descending the north slope and would recommend climbing up that instead of the route I took up. This trek to/from 12014 (and the descent from Wheeler) were pretty much the only parts I was able to run and it was a slog.
It felt great to return to the saddle between Simpson and Old Mike. A short trek further and I actually had Wheeler to myself for 10 min (of course it was 2:45 by this time). Then the people train started. Having not seen anyone for 13 mi, I guess I was due to return to humanity. Must have seen 20-30 people in the 4 mi back to the TH. Funny thing, everyone hikes the trails to Wheeler but you get off those couple of trails and you hardly see a soul.
It total my route was 17.02 mi, took 7 hrs 25 min, and was a total of 6604 ft elevation gain. I was ready to be done by the end.
|Summary Total Data|
| Route Conditions:||Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Open Country, Bushwhack|
| Weather:||Pleasant, Calm, Clear|
|Ascent Part of Trip: Kachina (0 nights total away from roads)|
Complete Trip Sequence:
|GPS Data for Ascent/Trip|
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Peaks: climbed and unclimbed by Will Wente
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