Start Time: 3:01 AM
Uncompahgre Peak: 6:42 AM
Matterhorn Peak: 9:20 AM
Wetterhorn Peak: 11:55 AM
End Time: 2:15 PM
Total Time: 11 Hours 14 Minutes
Distance: 17.5 Miles
Elevation Gain: 8000'
The members of this trip included my Dad and me. A week ago about half a dozen people were really interested in doing this trip, but as per usual, everyone abandoned me the day before. Since it was just Dad and me, I decided to include Matterhorn as well.
In a rather turbulent transition period from working to going back to school I was content to enjoy the soothing solitude of a 6 hour drive alone with my music soaking in the stunning views on the drive from Golden to Lake City.
We met up and camped on the North Henson Road. The night provided a loud windy thunderstorm with considerable (1"-2") precipitation, blowing off my rain cover twice.
After 3-4 hours of sleep we awakened at 2AM to a surprisingly warm (upper 40's) morning. We prepared our packs and drove to the 4WD TH and began hiking at 3:01 AM.
Trip report starts here:
There are 2 splits in the trail. Thanks to gregory_fischer for posting pictures of them.
We hiked 0.5 miles in the dark up across a creek up to the first sign and took a right. We then hiked another half mile (approx) to the second sign and again took a right (we chose to do Uncompahgre first to give Wetterhorn a chance to dry out).
On route we heard a dog that Dad correctly identified as a sheep dog. The upper ~(1/3) of Uncompahgre had a couple inches of show on it and we were happy to have the first rays of sunlight to accompany us.
Light Snow on Uncompahgre
Uncompahgre is a very unique mountain - you hike up a grassy field that has some jagged edges to the left that you can look through and see the other peaks. Then you gain some elevation by some switchbacks and there is sort of a split.
The route description shows a portion where you have to climb up a field of loose rocks, but there is a cairned trail where you take a preemptive right and ascend a set of easy stairs and quickly gain the summit plateau. Easy Class II all the way - no " steep, loose rock" as suggested by the route description.
I then snapped some summit photos.
Dad on Uncompahgre Summit
Me on Uncompahgre Summit
Looking North from Uncompahgre Summit
Looking South from Uncompahgre Summit
We then descended Uncompahgre and ran into some friends.
Uncompahgre from Valley
Dad was concerned at a potentially aggressive sheep dog, but luckily got the attention of the Spanish shepherd who let us pass unbitten.
Next was Matterhorn. The only beta about Matterhorn is that there is a false summit. It is fairly steep, and we were happy to meet up with a trail about 2/3 the way up. Matterhorn is a Class III and the best way to go is to go to the right of the ridge then take a counter clockwise arc to climb the Summit from the East side. It is decently cairned.
Matterhorn approximate route
Dad climbing up Matterhorn
Me on Matterhorn summit
We descended all the way to the Wetterhorn trail junction because that is where we stashed 3 Gatorades and some boots. Then we began the ascent of our final destination: Wetterhorn Peak.
Ridge between Wetterhorn (Left) and Matterhorn (Right)
No pics for the climbing - the Route Description is dead on, the only thing is that the features we recognized from the RD photos were smaller than expected. This was the first summit of the day we had company on.
Dad(s) on Wetterhorn Summit
Image #16 (not yet uploaded)
Similar to the descent of the homestretch on Longs, we took extra time to be careful while descending Wetterhorn's final pitch. We discussed and agreed that it was slightly more difficult than the Longs Peak summit pitch, but that the climb of Wetterhorn as a whole was slightly easier technically than Longs, but roughly equivalent.
We made it back to the truck, drove down the the campsite and packed up and headed to Lake City for a meal at "Southern Vittles". While I was distraught by the picture showing Colorado as part of Texas, the chicken fried steak was of a Ron Swanson approved quantity.
Dad and I said our goodbyes and parted ways until our next climb. Again I enjoyed an incredible drive back to Golden and took a shower and enjoyed some well-earned sleep.
26 unique 14ers (lifetime)
42 peaks above 13000' Summer 2012
107550' Summer 2012
The San Juans are remote, and they were undoubtedly unique and unlike any of Colorado's other ranges. It's impossible to look anywhere and not see an entire spectrum of colors. The sunrise over the snowy Uncompahgre and the views overlooking the neighboring San Juans evokes an ethereal qualia tantamount with any view in the state including the Crestones, Maroon Bells, or Longs.
For 6 days a week my spirit is restless and tormented by abstract layers of distorted cognitions of my own limitations against convoluted reality, but on the 7th day with the solitude of the Mountains my spirit can rest and I am made whole and only then can I feel alive. This trip was an exemplary case of this.