This was a route of a lifetime, and is strongly recommended for those comfortable off trail. Steve Howe recommended this route to me when I met him unexpectedly in the Wind River Range a few years back. Thank you for putting it together and recommending it to me, Steve. It is a shorter but similar version of Roper's Sierra High Route. It is found at http://bp2.trimbleoutdoors.com/ViewTrip.aspx?tripId=43747. You can download the waypoints and send it to google earth and your GPS.
Good eye-foot coordination and a calm disposition are prerequisites (along with stamina at high altitude as his article says, so pack lightly).
By that I mean there are several steep alpine tundra or talus slopes after you leave the Vallecito Creek trail to the end of the route that can rattle the uninitiated. If you fall on one of these slopes you could be injured to the point of being immobilized. Take your time on these sections and concentrate on your immediate footing, trekking pole plants, and handholds. I would not go without poles; you’ll use them when traversing a steep slope of loose talus (that has eroded away any available use trail), or when descending talus/boulders. Some talus will move underfoot and you won’t know it until you’ve got your weight on it; recall the Presbyterian pastor who got trapped in the Wind River Range and died. If you get preoccupied with the possibility of a fall, you'll panic and miss the scenery. I went solo and sent an OK after or before any sketchy section. As suggested, I sent several OK messages a day. As you get accustomed to the slopes, it is easier to manage your emotions.
The best route referenced at WEM026 is do-able; it took me less than an hour from the tarn at the foot of the pass to the top. However, there were times when I was using feet and hands to ascend and rocks were unavoidably falling behind me. So, don't follow someone in the fall line. It appears from the tarn there is an unpassable cliff band at the top. It is not unpassable, and can be walked around easily. I hiked up through the lower diamond shaped tundra area just above the tarn, then climbed the talus to the left or west of the outcropping of rock in the center. There may be other routes, but from the tarn that looked easier to me. Note, however, that erosion and more rock fall over the years may change the best ascent. Once you are at the top of this saddle or pass, it is an easy meadow walk back to Steve's coordinates. Having not taken Steve's original route, I can't say how much time I saved, but I would guess it was substantial. I can’t comment on whether it was safer for the same reason, but my educated guess is the less time you spend on talus slopes the safer you are even if the slope is a bit steeper.
The route's views were spectacular and rarely seen by those who stick to the Weminuche trails. I saw only two groups of people, once on the Vallecito Trail and once again at the Highland Mary Lakes region. Otherwise, it was just me, the moose, the mountain goats, elk, and seemingly overweight marmots!
The worst section for me was finding the use trail in the first half of a mile from the Elk Trail towards Verde Lake. I ended up following the coordinates from point to point from the foot bridge on the trail. It was not hazardous, but it was hot and exhausting because the slope was really steep and there was a lot of deadfall. Eventually, I caught the use trail, near the tree line, and gasped my way up to the Whitehead trail.
Don't worry about WEM045. Since Steve was there they may have also color coded those handholds...
Like any other Weminuche trip, timing is critical because of the altitude. Don't try this route until the snow has melted otherwise crampons and an axe would be essential, and don't schedule it during the monsoons. I went the end of August and beginning of September and managed all dry days except one with hail. The slopes would be too steep for me if the wind is high or variable, and/or the talus/tundra is wet and slick.
My sense is this route is more demanding than others that are rated strenuous. Has anyone else done this route?