Ascent of Wheeler Peak on 2012-02-02

Climber: Marlin Thorman

Others in Party:Trisha Thorman
----Only Party on Mountain
Date:Thursday, February 2, 2012
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Wheeler Peak
    Location:USA-New Mexico
    Elevation:13161 ft / 4011 m

Ascent Trip Report

We got up at 4:55am to start packing and getting ready for the hike. The weather forecast was calling for a snowstorm to arrive in the afternoon, and we were hoping to go up and back before it started. We drove up to the ski bowl and followed our directions towards the hiker's parking lot. Unfortunately we ran into a locked gate and an unplowed road about a mile before the parking lot. After parking the car and strapping on the snowshoes, we set off up the road by 6:30am. Within a few minutes it started to snow large flakes in the predawn air. After hiking along the road (and several other roads) we passed the hikers parking lot and the ski lifts. The trail was well marked with paint on the trees and there were numerous cross country ski tracks left in the snow. After an hour and 45 minutes we reached the edge of Williams lake and the beginning of the steep climbing. Heading up the side of the mountain we attempted to stay on the ridges near rocks, trees, and wind blown grass. This would greatly reduce the risk of starting an avalanche in the 4-6 inches of powder snow on top of hard crust that lay in the gullies. After 1,800 feet of struggling up steep snowy ridges with 40mph wind pushing snow into every crevice, we finally reached the saddle on the ridge just below the peak. Lucky for us the snow stopped falling and the sun came out just long enough for us to see down into the valley below. Upon reaching the summit we hastily took a couple pictures, and signed the summit registry while trying not to be blown off the top of the mountain. The way back down seemed to take almost as long as the way up as we weaved from rock pile to rock pile trying to avoid avalanche conditions and post holes. Just after leaving the summit the sun disappeared a the weather returned with a vengeance of wind blown snow. Finally down to the valley floor we strapped on the snowshoes and hit the Williams Lake trail. After 9hrs of hiking we made it back to our car, now covered in 3 inches of fresh snow, tired and hungry.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3360 ft / 1024 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.7 mi / 14 km
    Route:Williams Lake Trail
    Trailhead:Ski Resort  9801 ft / 2987 m
    Grade/Class:Class 2
    Quality:8 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Open Country, Snow on Ground, Snow Climb
    Gear Used:
Ice Axe, Snowshoes
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Very Windy, White-out
Ascent Statistics
    Time:0 Days 5 Hours 30 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:0 Days 3 Hours 0 Minutes
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Marlin Thorman
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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