| Gorgeous day in the San Juans
Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek, elevation 10,400
Starting elevation: 11,500
Start time: 6.15 am
Summit: 10.15 am
Back to camp: 1.30pm
We arrived at the 2WD parking on Friday afternoon, we hiked up the 0.7 mile up to the upper parking lot and were surprised there were no cars, it seemed very quiet for a holiday weekend. We started hiking up for about a mile and a half and found a very nice camp spot just below timberline.
This is the trail going up to timberline
The next morning we started hiking at 6.15 towards Uncompahgre. This is a view of Wetterhorn peak.
And this one of Uncompahgre
On the way up there are several snow fields to cross, here you can see Mike crossing one of them. The snow was hard at this hour of the day so it was easy to walk on.
We did not follow the standard route that goes around Unc. Instead we were trying to follow Roach’s route number 3, but once we got there we were not sure which gully he refers to. We saw there was plenty of snow to make it to the notch seen in the next picture:
From the picture it does not look too steep, but once we were on it we realized it was pretty steep. We used our microspikes and ice axe to make the climb, the snow was still solid and good.
The views were amazing
Looking down on the route:
There is still a lot of snow in the San Juans!
We finally made the summit, it took us probably longer than if we had stayed on the route around the peak, but hey it was fun. We had the summit to ourselves.
A pic of Wetterhorn (that would have to wait till the next day)
On the way down we were going to do the standard route back to camp, but when we reached 13,800 we looked down and though “wow, wouldn’t it be faster to go this way?”, this is probably the route number 3 that we had been looking for on our way up. And, in fact, we met a group of 3 climbers that had gone up this way. There was a patch of snow and it was pretty soft, but it was so steep that we decided it was not safe to glissade it. So, we just hiked down on the scree, which was not bad at all.
This is what it looked on the way down.
And, again, amazing views of Matterhorn and Wetterhorn.
The lower part of this gulley looked great for a fun glissade.
This is a pic on the way back that looks at the route we took coming down, through the snow field on the right side.
We had talked about doing Wetterhorn on the same day, and looking at the sky there were no threats of thunderstorms, but our legs made the decision of post-pone it for the next day. We had spent a lot of energy post-holing in the soft snow on the way back. “The mind says go but the feet say no…” Chuck Pyle.
Oh and we want to thank our camp site neighbors for the bleach! (sorry, we did not get your names). Our water filter broke down on the day before, so we had to drink from the snow melt.
Report on Wetterhorn coming briefly.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):