So after weeks and weeks and months and months of delaying, I finally got the urge last minute to make the 4 hour trek over to the San Juans to climb Wetterhorn. I departed Pueblo around 2pm Friday (Sept 7) and got to the upper 2WD parking area with plenty of daylight to spare to set up camp and wait patiently while it got dark so I could attempt some astrophotography. Eh...it went alright, but on to the fun part.
Wetterhorn, Matterhorn, and the connecting ridge.
I departed camp around 6:30 or so Saturday morning. To my delight the trek up the .7 mile 4WD road wasn't bad at all. Though in the past I've done some long grueling 4WD road hiking such as the Castle Peak approach....never again without a 4WD.
Matterhorn, with Uncompahgre in the distance.
Somewhat better look at the route up Wetterhorn
On the trail I met two ladies who had done Matterhorn that Thursday and were now doing Wetterhorn Friday. We wound up leap frogging each other the entire way up to the saddle because of how we timed our breaks. Eventually we started to stick together once the scrambling and route finding began.
Starting the main scramble
The official route goes left here I think. We went right.
I don't know how most people ascend to the Prow, but we wound up taking the wrong gully (wrong maybe the wrong word, the less used gully, and there were cairns) that led off to the right and wound up making our journey twice as hard as it should have been. Going right essentially skirts you around the mountain via some very exposed, very loose ledges and slopes.
Here's where we got stuck because we're in the wrong gully according to the route desc.
Skirting the mountain
A look back at the path we took.
When we finally topped out we were directly across from and facing the Prow, unlike the route description on here which says you should be walking up alongside it when you top out. Needless to say, we were all glad when it was over, yet after doing it, I'd totally go that way again.
Facing the Prow head-on
After that it was a breeze with just a quick walk across the slope to reach the cairned notch, then up and over. Quite interesting after that. You top out on a flat downsloping rock that you walk down and wind up coming to a halt on a simple ledge with nowhere to go except up, which is the famous 100' final wall.
After the notch, the sloped rock on the other side.
The 100' slab of wall to reach the summit.
Looking down from part way up.
I gotta say, this final wall was a blast to climb. Bomber hand holds and ledges to step on. There's a shelf about 2/3 of the way up, then after that the remainder 1/3 gets slightly trickier to ascend. I say that strictly relative to the lower portion because it still wasn't all that difficult. I think I reached the summit a little before 11:30.
I met a few people on the summit (shout out to Mike Spalding, Dave, Kate) who were actually below us before we got offroute and wound up beating me to the summit. They mentioned they decided on taking the left (correct) gully route up and it wasn't too bad.
I tagged along with them on the descent, taking their same ascent path which was good because I was truly not looking forward to returning the same way I came up, down those loose ledges.
Hopefully I can return with some friends to climb this again. They were all busy and couldn't go but I know they'd love Wetterhorn.
Uncompaghre. Just a great shot. Had to share it.