MM Collection
Dispatches from afar - the Alaska Range. Josh Terrell photo
Checking in from the Condor's Nest on Illimani, Bolivia. MM Collection
Writing dispatches in camp on Kilimanjaro. Mark Gunlogson photo
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October 18, 2011

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