| San Juan trio part deux
Moving up in class...
Ever since I saw a picture of this uniquely shaped peak, I have wanted to climb it. Well, now I have my chance - if the weather holds out. 50% chance of thunderstorms say the weather 'experts'. Mainly after noon though, start early and hope for the best
The last time we climbed the 14ers in the area (Handies/Redcloud/Sunshine), we stayed on the Ouray side and woke up very early and drove over either Engineer (only once!) or down to Silverton and back up to Cinnamon. Now I really enjoy 4-wheeling but not that early in the morning, and not for such a long time before a hike. So this time we stayed in Lake City. Booked at room at the Lake City Resort (use the name resort with caution). Very basic accommodations with a bed, a kitchenette that harkens back to Leave It To Beaver days, a tv that my BlackBerry rivals as far as screen size, and a bathroom that you could literally sit on the john and brush your teeth over the sink at the same time and a shower that even my wife had to squat to fit under (she's 5'6"). Now, all that being said, the place served its purpose well. I didn't go to Lake City to lounge around in my room all day. It was very reasonable for 'high season', I think $75/ night, and the people who run it are very nice. I wouldn't mind trying another place to stay if we ever go back, but would stay there again.
After hiking San Luis the previous day, we didn't have much trouble sleeping this night. A 5:15 alarm came quickly and we were off to an early start up Engineer Pass toward the Nellie Creek trailhead. Taking advantage of having a very capable 4wd, we drove to the top of the 4wd trail for our start.
At just after 7:00, we began our trek. Now this is where I have some confusion. The sign here in the picture says 'Uncompahgre - 2.5 miles'. Ok, I aren't the smartest feller, but I think that means 5 miles round trip. The route description page on 14ers.com says round trip 8 miles. Maybe thats from a bit further down the road? Bill still says it's about 7 - 7.5 miles rt from that point so, dangit, that's what I am taking credit for!
Uncompahgre is not nearly as shy as San Luis. Showing itself proudly within 20 minutes of the start of the hike.
Couldn't pass up this shot of a beautiful clump of Columbine along the trail.
The sun is now illuminating the mountain before the valley below.
Once you reach the basin, the peak is not shy about showing its prowess in full view.
As you slowly (at first) gain elevation, you are steered to the left (south) of the mountain.
Once you approach the steeper part of the hike just before going to the west face, the trail starts to incorporate some switchbacks for quicker elevation gain.
When you walk around the west face, you are approaching the 'crux' of the route. A relatively short scramble up some loose rock and dirt. This section has to be the sole reason that Uncompahgre is rated a class two.
Now, you should be paying attention to what you are doing while climbing this part, but keep an eye out for the fox family that darts in and out of the rocks around this area and the area right after this climb. I kept seeing something out of the corner of my eye, but by the time I got my camera ready, all I saw was a tail darting behind some rocks. Now I was at first disappointed because I really wanted a picture of a fox in my trip report, but patience paid off and I was lucky enough to get one:
After you finish the 150' scramble, the trail continues north to the last semi-steep area before you see the easiest final approach to a summit I have ever seen.
An easy 2 1/2 hours after starting at the upper 4wd trailhead, we made the summit. Summit shot with tomorrow's goal in the background.
We spent alot of time at this summit. Eating, enjoying the views, chatting with fellow climbers and 14ers.com members. I asked a guy to take a summit shot of my wife and I and I would gladly return the favor. We got to chatting about 14ers after he mentioned that he really loved Wetterhorn (tomorrow's destination). He told me that this was his 24th (I think)- and my mind quickly tallied this one to my total and I was about to say that this was my 27th, but before I could even say anything he finished his statement- this summer. Wow, what did you just say? Yep, his goal is to climb all of them this season! He started on the first day of summer and has been able to continue climbing every other day. Just a quick shout out to Bohica from Tulsa - it was a pleasure meeting you and I wish you luck and fortune on your goal this summer. I still plan on several more hikes this season too, so maybe we'll see each other again! We also met and chatted with a couple of gals from Denver (I am such a dork for not getting names ) who we later met again at the Packer Saloon - hey ladies!
Anyway, after spending about 45 minutes on the summit, we decided to make our journey down. Here is a shot looking back at the west face.
Just before decending the class two scramble, I was able to get a legit shot of the fox. Now I don't know if this is the Uncompadre fox or Uncommadre fox .
A nice easy descent put us back at the trailhead at about 12:20. 5hr 15 min, not bad including a 45 minute summit break. We both really enjoyed this one. In fact, it is now my wife's favorite. Beautiful green basin on the approach, great trail, awesome views on top, and including one on the early part of the Nellie Creek road, several waterfalls to check out.
Next, it's on to our final destination for this trip....
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):