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Colorado 14’er Reached

MM Guide Dave Ahrens and climber Pat­ti Slaugh­ter recent­ly climbed El Diente in the Rock­ies while on our Wilson/​El Diente Tra­verse trip. Dave writes:

Fall in the Rock­ies this sea­son brought a vari­ety of col­ors as the leaves begin to change along with bril­liant white peaks from an unex­pect­ed, but not uncom­mon, Sep­tem­ber snow storm. Pat­ti and I had a 3 day trip planned for the Wilson/​El Diente Tra­verse depend­ing on the con­di­tions of the ridge. The first day we hiked into our high camp nes­tled in below a clas­sic water­fall at just over 10,000ft. It was a gor­geous hike in, com­plete with a herd of elk run­ning just below us on the approach not more then 50 yards away. The under brush was a vibrant yel­low and the sun was warm, lead­ing us to expect the usu­al after­noon thun­der­storm which is so com­mon in the San Juans. The rain even­tu­al­ly rolled in after we were com­fort­able in camp and gave us a nice cool down before hit­ting the sack. 

Dave Ahrens photo

Dave Ahrens photo

We awoke at 3:30am, ate break­fast, and were on the trail by 4:15am. We hiked in the dark through a steep for­est trail before hit­ting the scree tra­verse which takes you into the upper El Diente/​Mount Wil­son Basin. We had a great view of the sun­rise yet con­tin­ued in cold shad­ows until reach­ing 12,600 feet when we were final­ly greet­ed with direct sun caus­ing a wel­come spike in tem­per­a­tures. We soon reached the steep­er 4th class of the upper part of the route and roped up to add some wel­comed secu­ri­ty for Pat­ti in the blocky exposed ter­rain. We could see that the tra­verse was very snowy and we opt­ed for mak­ing the sum­mit of El Diente, our main objec­tive, and sav­ing the tra­verse for anoth­er day.

Dave Ahrens photo

Dave Ahrens photo

Dave Ahrens photo

Just before the sum­mit, I typ­i­cal­ly wrap around to some loose gul­leys on the north aspects. How­ev­er, both were filled with 2 feet of uncon­sol­i­dat­ed sug­ar snow which had been rot­ting out since it fell under clear Col­orado skies. After a lit­tle wal­low­ing we opt­ed for a direct fin­ish along the exposed ridge. We climbed cau­tious­ly in the sun on the exposed ridge and even­tu­al­ly made it to the sum­mit with warm temps and not a breath of wind. It had tak­en us longer then expect­ed to make the sum­mit so we quick­ly head­ed down back to camp being care­ful to not knock rocks on a group below us who was also head­ed down.

Dave Ahrens photo

Dave Ahrens photo

We made it back to camp just before dark and ate a large meal of veg­gies and cous cous before head­ing off to sleep. The next day we hiked back to the car with El Diente loom­ing above us framed in fall col­ors. It was a clas­sic fall Col­orado trip and a big thanks to Pat­ti and her ever pos­i­tive atti­tude and infec­tious smile.”

Dave Ahrens photo

Dave Ahrens photo