Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Date Posted:  07/16/2012
Modified:  07/19/2012
Date Climbed:   07/09/2012
Author:  G-VO
 Summer in the San Juans Part 2  

After camping at the 2WD parking area 0.7 miles below the Matterhorn Creek TH, Mark and I headed up the 4WD drove at around 3:30AM. At the first trail intersection, make sure you turn right! The Matterhorn Creek Cutoff trail is the Wrong way. We figured this out after about 10 minutes and continued up the trail towards Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre. At the Wetterhorn trail intersection we continued right on the 'Driveway' which is actually an old Jeep Trail that used to cut through the pristine tundra above 12,000' before being declared a Wilderness area which has since stopped the motorized vehicles. A few other old Jeep trails intersect the Driveway but just continue to stay right as you pass around the massive summit block of Uncompahgre. Our goal was to summit Uncompahgre first and then climb Wetterhorn on the way back, time and weather permitting. As the sun began to rise, we were greeted by a herd of elk pushing their way through the valley. One elk stood above on the ridge, probably warning the herd of our approach.
Elk on the Horizon

The Herd

Mark on the long approach down the 'Driveway'
The Driveway

After joining the main trail from Nellie Creek at around 13,000', we continued up on the solid trail until passing around the notch to this loose Class 2 area.
Loose Section

The shadow of Uncompahgre back towards Wetterhorn and Matterhorn was pretty cool.
Shadow of Uncompahgre on Wetterhorn

The summit was very large with an abrupt drop off on one side.
Top of Uncompahgre

It was exactly 8 miles one way on the Garmin from the 2WD parking Matterhorn Creek Approach to the top of Uncompahgre. Even though we were coming off a 20 mile, three peak jaunt from the day before we still felt pretty good and made our way back to the Wetterhorn Peak trail where we would make our decision to press with the climb to the top of Wetterhorn. There were a few clouds rolling in but we knew we wouldn't reach the point of no return in regards to the weather until we reached the class 3 sections near the summit.

Looking back at Matterhorn from Wetterhorn Trail

We dared the lingering clouds and continued towards the summit where we negotiated some fun Class 3 scrambling and made our way around the 'V' notch to the left. The route was well cairned and fun if you stayed on route. There are numerous ways to ascend the final summit block and soon we found ourselves hanging out on top with the Wetterhorn marmot.
Looking around the 'V' Notch

Mark, me and the Marmot on top of Wetterhorn

King of the Mountain

We made our stay at the top short since we still weren't sure if the lingering clouds would eventually drop rain on us. The class 3 scrambling would not have been fun in wet conditions. We became somewhat bottlenecked going down as another large group was descending. However, it was pretty cool seeing a senior group of six or seven 60+ year olds tackle the mountain. They were awesome. Eventually we made it down the class 3 section and ran, stumbled, crawled back to camp for another 20 mile day and two more peaks. Surprisingly, it wasn't even 2PM when we got back to camp. After nearly 50 14ers, this was one of my favorite days in the mountains. The wildlife and scenery were amazing as was the scrambling on Wetterhorn and the views from the top of Uncompahgre. I definitely recommend this route!

Click below for the final trip report of the trip

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

07/17/2012 12:34
Almost done with the 14ers! Good job

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