Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Date Posted:  06/12/2012
Modified:  07/17/2012
Date Climbed:   06/09/2012
Author:  BirdMan

 San Juan Suffer-Fest / Day 2: Uncompahgre (and almost Wetterhorn) from Matterhorn Creek  

Road and camping conditions: The dirt road to the Matterhorn Creek TH was in very good condition, even the last two miles until you get to the 4 WD turn-off. Also, there is plenty of space to camp before the 4 WD turn-off.

Up at 5 am, drove to the 4 WD TH at 6 am and on the trail at 6:30 am with Chris and Jared.

We came to a junction in the trail with a sign indicating Ridge Stock to the right and (I believe) Wetterhorn to the left. You should go on the Ridge Stock route to the right. We went left and were soon crossing back and forth over Matterhorn Creek.


The forecast was for another bluebird day - windy but cold - as the ice in the stream below indicates.

Having got out of the Matterhorn Creek area and into the open Jared does a Babe Ruth impression with his pole pointing to the first goal of the day, Uncompahgre.

Another look at Uncompahgre.

Having gained a ridge, below is a closer look at Uncompaghre.

Closer to the cliff bands, the below is a look out a notch on the greater San Juan range. Words and photographs can't do justice to the beauty of this area - it just has to be seen!

Getting closer to the most technical points of this route

There is some brief class 2+ scrambling through the cliff bands, but it is short and I think very do-able for many skill levels. Chris coming through the cliff bands - me in silhouette.

A last shot below the summit.

The happy victors, Chris and Jared, on top at roughly 11 am. (By the way, that's a beef jerky stick, not a cigar in Jared's mouth!)

A shot with Jared and myself. Will have to remember to stand uphill from Jared next time!

After refueling, snapping photos and celebrating it was time to head down and head towards our next goal for the day, Wetterhorn!

Chris looking back and seemingly thinking, did I really just climb that?!?

Jared in front of a wall of unmelted snow - Matterhorn and Wetterhorn poking out above.

Ah, the beauty of the San Juans... the ridge between Matterhorn and Wetterhorn.

At 2:30 pm, we reached the junction in the trail to go either back to the car or on up to Wetterhorn. Chris was feeling the effects of having just completed his first 14er and had decided to head back to the car. It was late in the day but the weather was holding and Jared and I were feeling strong enough to still go for Wetterhorn.

Spoiler Alert: I did next to no research before attempting Wetterhorn (as I think my comments below will reveal) so guess what the end result was?

We figured we'd have to hurry and optimistically estimated if we made it in an hour and a half up and and hour down then we'd be back at the trail junction at 5 pm and then back at the car at 6 pm. It would be a BIG day, but we felt we had enough left in the tank to go for it. So, we ditched the heavy pack, combined food and water and pushed on as quick as we could.

Jared on Wetterhorn ridge with jet stream above his head.

We made good time getting above the ridgeline. However, the mountain seemed to get more technical the higher you went and we became slowed down with route finding. At 4:30 pm (a half hour after when we had planned to be on the summit) we realized we weren't where we needed to be and that we were both seriously running out of steam.

At this point we made the decision to stay safe and head down and let Wetterhorn be a peak we'd have to come back for. The mountains will always be there so better to know your limits and stay safe.

A view of Uncompahgre and Matterhorn from the Wetterhorn ridge.

Jared on the long walk out. We arrived at the car at 6:30 pm, or a full 12 hours from when the day began! Time to head into Lake City for some grub.

San Juan Suffer-Fest
Day 1: San Luis Peak -
Day 2: Uncompahgre Peak
Day 3: Handies Peak -
Day 4: Redcloud and Sunshine Peaks -

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

A LONG day!
06/12/2012 18:26
Nice report and pics. And when you finally do Wetterhorn, I'm sure you will love it!


Good to see you!
06/12/2012 18:45
Nice to see you getting out there Brad! I guess you'll need to return to Wetterhorn... maybe you should hire a guide that's already climbed it twice. Uncompahgre from that trailhead is a long day in and of itself.


San Juan June
06/13/2012 03:29
Nice report! I too am doing a San Juan suffer fest. 4 down, 9 or 10 to go...10 if u count N Eolus, and I DO! GL...maybe see u on the summit!


Miscellaneous Stuff...
06/14/2012 20:33
Keith - Wow, is that your little one? Man, it has been a long time! Let me know if you want to get together for lunch or a happy hour. Naw... don't need a guide - just need to have not already hiked for something like 8 hours before attempting Wetterhorn. Will get it next time.

Jay - Didn't we meet on Sneffels some time back? If so, man, that was a beautiful one.

Rick - Wish I could say I'll run into you on Eolus... not sure when I'll be getting back out but am thinking Holy Cross or something in the Elks would likely be next on the list for me. Yes, that was me on Redcloud by the way - looked like you had a great camp site picked out!

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