What a way to celebrate the 4th of July!
WOW ... what a peak. People say this is a fun mountain and it is SO true. The hike is in relatively mild (by 14er standards) and the scramble to the top is pure joy. I am Chiken-Little and scared to death of heights. So, needless to say hearing the mention of "ropes the last 85 feet" had my full attention.
We stopped right above the easily recognized "yellow sand" and had lunch before starting the real scrambling. I opted to leave my pack and poles at this point based on advice from a fellow 14er buddy. It was the right decision because it certainly made climbing easier for me ... HOWEVER ... my "Snickers/PB&J/Gatorade/Cheese Its" flavored pole handles made a delicious snack for some lucky Mo-Fo-Marmot (I USED to think they were cute ... now they are all just sneaky robbers/vandals/thieves in my eyes).
Dirty Rotten Scoundrel
The route finding from in this section was a little tricky for us. This was our first Class 3 route and we picked some wrong cairns at one point. We ended up traversing some VERY loose sand on the right side (made me very nervous) and spit out at the Ship's Prow staring back at a well-marked trail. How the hell did that happen? Oh well, so at this point some real 4-point scrambling starts. I was shaking in my boots. My partner is a former free climber and shot up the wall like Spider woMan.
Damn Free Climber I was impressed ... and depressed. I felt so slow. I guess I tested every hand and foot hold 3 times each. I abruptly stopped about half way up and said, "I'll never be able to climb all of the 14ers". I was so worried about the last section that people rope on ... then all of the sudden ... WHAM! I see a big FAT CAIRN and seconds later I was standing on the summit. SWEET HEAVEN - I made it! We were greeted with the Most Absolute Perfect July 4th Summit Day EVER ... warm and no wind. I never dreamed it possible ... but it happened.
I celebrated my successful Class 3 climb all of 5 minutes before I started worrying about down-climbing ... because I heard at an REI Seminar that some people have a horrible time going down ... but it turns out that I LOVE to down climb. It seemed so much easier to me than coming up. I think it's because I have the perfect ass for going down. What EXACTLY does the perfect down-climbing ass look like, you might ask?
Perfect Down Climbing Booty
Some helpful things that I'd want to know:
1. The 4WD road above the Matterhorn TH sign is NOT bad. We parked at the bottom and walked this section. HOWEVER, a 4WD vehicle would have NO problem and it'd knock off some extra hiking (UNLESS, of course, you want do some EXTRA hiking).
2. We did notice the white "slime" on the rocks and would never consider drinking water up there.
3. If you're comfortable sleeping in the middle of nowhere ... the dispersed camping along the Alpine Loop Trail ... where you turn to the Matterhorn Creek TH ... is gorgeous.
4. If you're scared sleeping in the middle of nowhere ... stay at Wupperman's Campground. Pat and Cecil Mitchell ... good Texas people running the show there ... they will take care of you for $15/night.
5. Lake City ... is a sweet little place. Good burgers at Packer's Saloon ... FANTASTIC ice cream at the San Juan Soda Shop.
6. If you trout fish ... carry a pole ... and hook a fish or two (like me!).
Hiker AND Trout Slayer
Difficulty: Class 3
Summit Elevation: 14,015 feet (Wetterhorn Peak)
Elevation Gain: 3600'
Round-trip Length: 8.0 miles
Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek TH
5:30 AM Awake
8:00 AM Start Hiking
12:00 PM Summit Wetterhorn Peak
3:00 PM Back at Trailhead
Date Ascended: 7/4/10
Roundtrip: 7 hours
Temperature: 38 start temp .... 60's at the bottom
14ers for Dummies ... by Dummy (I THOUGHT that was Wetterhorn straight ahead .... ummmm, it's not, it's the one over my right shoulder!),
People going down while we were going up.,
Check out the moon!,
The ramp ... ,
Spider woMan (and Uncompahgre),
14er #7 for me,
Perfect Down Climbing Booty,