| 14ers Jihad Week - Uncompahgre/Wetterhorn
Date: Saturday, August 5, 2006
Team: CODave, TalusMonkey
TH: Matterhorn Creek
14ers Jihad Week had been planned since early summer, although the exact peaks had not been finalized. As the summer progressed it looked like Jihad Week would be best utilized to finish up the San Juan range and the Elk range... CODave was able to take a few days of vacation to join me in hitting up some peaks that we both needed.
CODave picked me up in Lakewood on Friday afternoon shortly after 1500. We drove to Lake City through scattered rain showers and arrived at the Matterhorn Creek TH shortly after dark. The road to the TH is somewhat rough and narrow. No problem for CODave's Tacoma, but not recommended for low clearance passenger cars.
We quickly went to sleep in the truck. Although CODave said that it rained heavily about 2300, it was one of the best nights of "car sleeping" I had ever had. We awoke at 0200 and got on trail at 0235.
Our plan was to do a single day jihad on both Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn - starting with Uncompahgre first. Our route descriptions for the combo were vague and we were unsure of the condition of the connecting trail. We headed up the obvious trail from the TH and soon passed a junction for the "Matterhorn Creek" trail and another trail that obviously headed our way. Someone had handwritten "Wetterhorn Trail" for our trail. Be sure not to take the "Matterhorn Creek" trail.
At 0327 we hit another trail junction. One trail splits left for Wetterhorn. We continued right on the "Ridge Stock Trail". This junction is at N38deg 38m06.2s, W107deg 29m34.5s. From here we continued up to the pass on the "Ridge Stock Trail." We arrived at the pass at about 12,400 at 0400 (N38deg 03m38.7s, W107deg 29m11.7s). There are several signed junctions after the pass - always follow the "Ridge Stock Trail" signs.
At 0442 we arrived at a signed junction indicating a left turn to "Uncompahgre Peak" (N38deg 03m27.8s, W107deg 27m55.6s). We quickly climbed to the junction with the Nellie Creek trail at 12,900 in time to see sunrise.
Sunrise through the fog from the trail junction at 12,900:
After a quick breakfast break, we quickly summited Uncompahgre at 0650. Unfortunately, the mountain was in low cloud above 13,500. So we took a photo and left.
TalusMonkey and CODave on Uncompahgre:
For our descent, we improvised and took one of the gullies mentioned by Roach as a snow route. We did not find the descent difficult, but it would be a frustrating ascent route, perhaps. From the bottom of this gully we shortcutted cross country to rejoin the trail from which we had approached. We saved perhaps one mile.
We hurried back up to the pass and came down to the junction for the Wetterhorn trail. TalusMonkey and CODave in the basin below Wetterhorn:
The Wetterhorn trail is easy to follow and is class 1 to above 13,500. At 13,800 we ran into two nice ladies (Pam and Sally) from Colorado Springs who had decided to turn back at a difficult spot. We talked to them and they decided to follow us back to the spot and see how we approached it. We offered to help them. So CODave and I helped spot Pam and Sally up a short class 3 section.
We then ascended together to about 13,900 to the notch and the slab. Here we meet 8 descending climbers from Camp Redcloud Christian Camp. We confirmed with them that there were no others on the summit above. After viewing the slab and the 100 foot class 3 scramble above, Pam and Sally decided not to continue to the summit. However, CODave and I offered to take them all the way up. So, each of us positioned ourselves as spotters and helped guide Pam and Sally to the summit. We all arrived on the summit at 1110.
Sally, Pam, CODave and TalusMonkey on Wetterhorn:
Like Uncompahgre, Wetterhorn's summit was completely in low cloud. So we took quick photos and headed back down. Now CODave and I had to fulfill the second part of our commitment - taking Pam and Sally back down. Each of us downclimbed under Pam and Sally, individually helping with hand and foothold locations. Once we reached 13,800, Pam and Sally thanked us many times and bid farewell. CODave and I began our rapid descent - feeling good about helping two damsels in distress on their first class 3 climb.
As we descended back into the basin it began to rain lightly when we were only about a half hour from the TH. As we overtook two hikers we realized that one was BillyGoatGruff (Clint), whom we had met on the big Culebra hike on June 25th. So we joined him for the descent. It was nice to see another 14ers.com member again! Clint had brought 5 other Texans to experience their first 14ers.
Our jihad on Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn took just over 16 miles and required about 6,100 feet of elevation gain. We arrived back at the truck feeling strong. From there we drove around to Ouray to stage for my hike of Sneffels the next day...
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):