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 Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
 Post Date:  06/29/2009
 Date Climbed:   06/26/2009
 Posted By:  Ericjlindy

 Uncompahgre in the Rain - Nellie TH   

Mike, Tom and I drove into Lake City and arrived late Thursday. For most of the trip we traveled in the rain, hopefully not a sign of things to come the next day. The evening news report was not promising as wet weather was predicted early. Made the mental note and crossed our fingers for a 5 hour sliver of time in the morning that would keep us dry. There was no changing the plan (2 months in the making) to hike Uncompahgre at this point.

We left Lake City at 5am and make it up the rough and muddy road to the Nellie Creek trailhead. The skies where partly cloudy and the air was relatively warm (about 50) but very humid. We started out on the trail at about 6:15am. The hiking was fast paced and rather easy. We made short work of the first 1,000ft past tree line and well into the basin. Uncompahgre dominates the view ahead and most of the route is visible from the entire basin.

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The were several small stream crossings at this point none of which were a problem. As the trail turned toward the south ridge we encountered several small snow fields. Each were very slushy and in some locations slippery. This was more apparent on the way down (each of us took at least 1 spill).

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As we gained the south ridge from the basin, the wind picked up and the clouds started to build. Conditions were starting to go bad. The wind was constantly in our face and was strong enough to slow progress but we pressed up the route.

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By the time we hit the bottom of the steeper switchbacks the sun was gone for the rest of our hike.

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At the crest of the south ridge views to the west and Wetterhorn Peak basically confirmed that it wasn't if weather was going to hit us but when.

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We started to get spit on as we climbed through the rocks on the west face.

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We picked up our pace not wanting to get stuck on the summit in a storm. We made short work of the rocks to gain the summit plateau.

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By this time the summit was immersed in cloud cover and the trail ahead was not completely visible. The wind was still blowing pretty good but luckily to our backs (nothing like a little help for the final push).

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There was no rain at this point. As we reached the summit at about 9am, things seemed to calm a bit. Unfortunately there was not a view of anything (always a downer at the top of a 14er).

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We spent about 15 minutes snapping photos and checking out the fairly large summit area before heading back down.

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The rain gods were kind to us to this point, but as soon as we descended down the rocks and past the steep switchbacks the skies opened up.

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For the next 2 hours we were hit with sideways rain till the point we were soaked and chilled to the bone. There was minimal conversation amongst us as the only thing on everyone's mind was to get down and back to the car as soon as possible. There were several groups coming up the trail that thought better of going much further once they realized the rain was here to stay. We reached the car as three drowned rats at about 11:15. Once we loaded the car to head out the rain stopped….of course. Once we made it back to Lake City the sun was out and the temp was warm again. Oh well that is the way it goes sometimes in the mountains.



Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
 


  • Comments or Questions (4)
Dad Mike


Trailhead?     2014-08-12 17:13:45
Great trip report. I love picture #3.

How were the road conditions? Were you able to get to the upper trailhead? What were you driving?


theredmex

UnC to Wetterhorn     2009-07-01 09:09:49
Is it possible to do UnC and then Wetterhorn from Nellie Creek? Please let me know.


Ericjlindy

Trailhead / Traverse Response     2009-07-07 23:30:27
Drive a 4 Runner - No problems on road. Was wet and muddy - no snow. Had to get out and move some boulders that washed onto the road from rain. Few steep spots.
You could get Wetterhorn from Nellie but would entail a long trek through 2 basins. There is a fork at the Nellie Ck. trail at 12,900 ft (at right switchback of south ridge). Bear left at a sign and decend a few hundred feet to pick up the Matterhorn Ck. trail on way to Wetterhorn. Few trip rpts out there describe the route. Good luck.


Tjohn67238


Weather     2010-11-30 10:28:47
I'm hiking Unc on 7/3/10, very similar to the time of year as your hike. It was good to read your report, especially since it involved less than ideal weather conditions.



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