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Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby mackie » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:05 pm

Hello everyone. I just recently move to Colorado from Texas to be in the mountains. I have some limited experience mountaineering and rock climbing. I worked on Mt. Rainier( but never had the chance to summit) so I am used to the snowy conditions. I just recently summited Mt. Sneffels several weeks ago. I have been looking at soloing Mt. Wetterhorn, I see that there are 2 routes. The standard and the snow route. At this point in the season I am an unsure which route would be best. Any opinions or words of caution I should hear now rather than later?

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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby mtndude3737 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:17 pm

There is not enough snow up there to do a snow route yet. Generally speaking, the "snow routes" are best done when the snow is consolidated, holding the rocks in place, yet safer from avalanche danger. Right now there is probably not enough snow on the route to effectively climb it as a proper "snow route" should be. Do the standard route, and save the snow route for April. Bring microspikes and an ice axe for safety.

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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby SurfNTurf » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:18 pm

"Snow routes," if you're speaking about traditional ice-ax and crampon climbs, often don't come into play until spring, once the snowpack has consolidated. Speaking generally, fall/winter routes stick to ridgelines and slopes less than ~28-30 degrees to avoid avalanche danger.

The standard would be the way to go this time of year. Kushrocks and Emily are down there today, I'll point one of them here to give you a conditions update when they get back. If the ledges have significant snow on them it would be a much more serious undertaking than in summer.
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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby jmc5040 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 1:28 pm

I have not done Wetterhorn myself so I can't speak much for the standard route other than that it is class 3 with 4 exposure so I'd be cautious about doing it with sketchy snow conditions. The snow that has fallen recently from what I've seen is unconsolidated on northern exposures and icy/sticky/melted on southern exposures. The unconsolidated snow in the northern exposures does not lead to stable footing so be cautious. With that said the snow route probably doesn't have adequate coverage to make it a preferable route yet given that it is an ESE face. Not sure of your goal, but if your interested in snow climbs I'd personally say to do some snow climbs in CO on some peaks with less consequence first before attempting Wetterhorn... just saying. This information is based on conditions I've seen in the past two weeks in the state so take it for that as that can change quickly.

Just to add caution, just because the snow route has good snow coverage doesn't always mean it should/can be climbed as you need to take into consideration avalanche conditions which is a whole other topic. Getting some avalanche experience is something you should do if your interested in snow climbs.
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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby MonGoose » Wed Oct 17, 2012 2:29 pm

I assume you are referring to Wetterhorn Peak. Wetterhorn is a pretty good climb in the summer and there's just enough snow now to make things tricky. Since you are new to Colorado and climbing alone, it might be wise to do a few more Class II hikes before you try for Wetterhorn. The Sawatch range with a little bit of snow can be pretty exciting.

On Oct 27th a group from this website will be hiking Quandary Peak. That might be a good opportunity to get some more experience and make some climbing connections with folks on the site.

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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby mackie » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:45 pm

Thanks for the advice everyone. I would love to meet up with the group, but will be headed out of state for work on Wednesday. At this point I do not think I will be attempting the peak, I had a fairly serious mountain bike accident and my shoulder is not anywhere near 100%. :? O well what can you do. Thanks again!!

Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby MonGoose » Fri Oct 19, 2012 3:21 pm

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Re: Soloing Mt. Wetterhorn

Postby Rcizzle » Fri Oct 19, 2012 9:53 pm

There's not enough snow up there right now to impact the standard route. The San Juans did not get much in snow from the last storm. Nearby Uncompahgre from the Black Canyon is looking fairly sparse on snow. I would approach it as a winter hike without the necessary gear such as an ice axe, snow shoes, and microspikes. Dress in layers and prepare for cold wind.
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