|  Home |  Canada Trips |  US Trips |  Hiking |  Snowshoeing |  MAP |  About

Mount Wilson
Red Rock Canyon NCA, Nevada
November 7, 2010

Distance: 14.2 km (8.8 mi)
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 1110 m (3642 ft

Mount Wilson is not only the second-highest peak in Red Rock Canyon (after La Madre Mountain), but it also poses one of the most difficult routes. So Dinah and I turned to our Las Vegas friend Shin to guide us. Before our trip, Shin had been up Wilson five times using different routes. For this trip, he chose to do a loop. We would hike partway up First Creek Canyon before leaving it to scramble to a hidden bowl. From the bowl, we could gain the ridge leading to the South Summit and Mount Wilson. For the return trip, we would come down the standard (easiest) route using the southwest ridge.

At the trailhead, while we waited for Shin's friends Adrian and Matt, Shin pulled out his cell phone and talked to a friend who had camped on Mount Wilson. Although his friend was too far away for us to see him, we could see flashes from his mirror. When Adrian and Matt pulled up, we were introduced and the five of us started up the trail.

First Creek Canyon, like most canyons in Red Rock, involved some fun bouldering. Shin led us through a maze of rock and bush leaving us to concentrate on scrambling rather than routefinding. Eventually, we left the canyon and scrambled up steep rock slabs. Here Dinah and I wished we had grippy climbing shoes like the others instead of our light hikers. But the slabs didn't last long and after reaching the hidden bowl, the grade eased. We ascended the ridge south of the summit.

Before climbing the summit of Mount Wilson, however, Shin took us to the seldom-visited South Summit of Wilson. Because it's an exposed class 3 ascent, few people venture to climb it. First, we took a break on a five-foot-wide ledge under the South Summit. Below the ledge, there is a 600 m drop.

After the break, Dinah opted to stay behind while the rest of us climbed 5 m to the top. I couldn't help but be aware of the terrific drop below me, although the ledge below gave me some comfort. On the airy top – it falls sharply away in all directions – there was barely room for the four of us.

After carefully down-climbing the south summit, we set off for the true summit. In contrast, reaching the true summit was just an offtrail hike. Regardless, the views were inspiring. Shin celebrated by drinking from a bottle of Powerade he had cached on the summit more than two years ago. The best-before date had long since expired, but that didn't stop him from enjoying it.

From the summit, Shin took us on a route that avoided the steep slabs we had ascended earlier. We followed the southwest ridge to the west end of First Creek Canyon and followed the canyon back down. We bounded down the canyon, jumping and bouncing off the boulders until we reached the desert flats.

Dinah and I had a great time climbing Mount Wilson with Shin, Adrian and Matt. We have to thank Shin for leading us. Without his routefinding, this would have undoubtedly been a longer, more difficult trip.

GPX and KML Tracks

Mount Wilson: South Summit is the yellow bump on the left; true summit is right

Starting on the trail

First Creek Canyon

Scrambling in the canyon

We followed Shin up the canyon

Reflections in the creek

Adrian starts up a chimney while Dinah waits. Shin is coming out at the top

After this point, we'll leave the canyon

Starting up out of the canyon

Traversing slabs

Looking back

Looking back at the slabs we climbed above the canyon

Dinah carefully ascends a steep slope

Easier terrain

Following a ledge

Heading to the hidden bowl

Hidden bowl

At the bottom of the bowl

Above the smooth rock we'll angle right

Stopping to regroup

Terraced slopes

Here the ascent becomes a slog

Climbing shoes would have worked better here!

On the ridge heading to the South Summit

On the ledge below the South Summit. We'll ascend the rock behind Shin.

Below the ledge, there's a big drop

Scrambling up the South Summit

Reaching the top

Looking back at the South Summit (mouse over for a close-up). The point on the right is slightly higher but the left one that we climbed has a register.

Hiking to the true summit (not visible here)

Las Vegas in the distance

True summit

Matt, Adrian, Dinah, Shin and me on Mount Wilson

Our Calgary, Alberta friend Sonny Bou beat Dinah and me up Mount Wilson by four weeks

Heading down the descent route

We passed some desert bighorn sheep

Close-up of one of the sheep

Nearing the top of First Creek Canyon

Back in the canyon

Adrian inspects a strange object. Looks organic but it's actually rock (mouse over).

Shin drinks from a bottle of Powerade that he left on the summit more than two years ago

Cool rock

Shin enters the chimney

Climbers in the centre (mouse over)

Blue Diamond (8.8 mi, 7070 ft, 3415 ft)

U.S. Trips | Home