Route: South Face to North Face and Navajo Basin
Team: Ted, Christy
The was a big two-fer to pull off. After El Diente, we began to climb up Mount Wilson. The route up the North Face is straightforward until you get right below the summit. That’s where the snow dries up and the skiing suddenly doesn’t seem so reasonable.
For years, much like El Diente, it was considered good to ski from a point just below the summit, from the highest continuous snow. More recently though, skiers have connected snow patches, or billy-goated through the rocks to actually get a true summit descent. And nowadays, that’s the expected standard. So as we poked around below the summit, we decided to just climb to the top with our skis and then decide from there what looked best for skiing, if anything.
After some tricky, exposed climbing on the San Juan loose rock, we made it up the north side of the summit block. In hind sight, it may have been easier to just follow the more standard summer route, a bit to the west.
From the top, a strip of snow led down to the south. It was littered with rocks, but was continuous enough to allow us to click in to our skis at the summit. We could make our way off the top through the thin stretch to more continuous snow below, and then traverse around to the east. After the traverse, to the col between Slate Creek and the basin to the south, we started down Slate Creek– the tricky part was done, we had pulled off a continuous ski descent of one of the more challenging summits.
Since we started at Silver Pick, we had to traverse once again, and then climb up a short way to another col, that allowed us back into Navajo Basin. We skied back towards Rock of Ages Saddle, and then down Silver Pick Basin as it got dark. We finished by headlamp.