Uncompahgre Peak - 14,309 feet
Uncompahgre Peak - 14,309 feet
|Uncompahgre- Matterhorn Creek|
This is a continuation of this TR of Wetterhorn:
With Wetterhorn now under our belts and the weather holding we were feeling pretty good about our chances for summiting Uncompahgre. We didn't backtrack all the way back to the junction that is shown in Roaches book, instead we followed a trail that skirted under Matterhorn, this trail eventually dies out near the stream but it's clear where you need to go in order to hook back up with the Uncompahgre trail near the top of the ridge.
Here is Uncompahgre as see from the top of the ridge. These peaks really are 3 miles apart and while it was great to summit both of them in one day, be prepared for a looong day. I am not sure we would tackle both of them in a single day again....well...maybe we would. We slogged along the well defined trail hugging the gentle ridge line for a considerable distance before stopping around 11am to eat some lunch and weigh our options. We decided we really did not want to hike all the way around the north side of Uncompahgre, instead we took stock of the available couloirs on the south side. Finding one to our liking we head off cross country.
Uncompahgre from where we stopped for lunch. The couloir we picked is the major one just right of center. From a distance it looks like it's no big deal to reach it, in reality its 3 distinct sections each with some quick elevation gain in a relatively short distance.
The first section is the grassy slopes, brutally steep. Lovenit making his way up
The second section is the boulder filled slope,- brutally steep. Again Lovenit picking his way up.
and finally the rubble filled couloir, brutal- lots of loose rock and oh did I mention steep?!. This is a view looking back down it. This couloirs is filled with loose scree so be careful if people are below you.
This gives you an idea of how far away Wetterhorn is, notice the endless valley you cross to even reach the ridge line.
This not something you see (well at least I see) every day on a 14er hike. This badger was looking at us like:
"You guys realize you are NO WHERE near the trail right?
This is looking back at where we popped out of the coulior and met back up with the main trail.
Loveinit on Well defined trail just doing the elevation gain thing...
I guess I did not do enough research on this hike but I was not really expecting this short class 3 section, it was a lot of fun, loose but fun. A guy from Chicago hit this section and it scared him so bad that he forgot all goals of reaching the summit and was very slowly making his way back down the trail.
Looking back down the same section
I would like to say this is the final push to the summit, but it's not, one more to go still. This mountain seemed to keep going up and up. I am sure it had a lot to do with the fact that it was our second mountain of the day and the fact that Uncompahgre is the 6th tallest was not lost on us either.
OK now this is the final push to the summit. I was dead tired by this point and was questioning my sanity.
This is looking back down the trail from.. yes! finally the summit. I think we arrived around 1:30pm
Not wanting to go back down the coulior we came up, and still not quite ready to tackle the long hike around, we decided to follow this coulior all the way down. It's the same one I was surprised was class 3 on the way up.
If you decide to do this like we did beware this one class 4 rock band you will have to navigate. It was interesting but I think we were both so tired we didn't really stop to think much about it.
This is looking back up it after hitting the valley floor. You can see where the class 4 section is. That piece aside, its a pretty quick decent off the summit. It was interesting that we met a group of people who left 30 min before us down the standard route, and we beat them to this ridge line.
It seemed like an endless treadmill of this type of walking back out to the Matterhorn TH.
It seems like everyone is hiking 14ers these days, not sure if these gals made the summit or not, but they were heading up the trail making a lot noise.
We made it back to the parking lot by 5:30pm, very tired and dreading the couple hour drive we still had to get to the San Luis TH. It was a great accomplishment and I loved both these peaks for very different reasons. Wetterhorn was just a really fun climb and Uncompahgre is such a unique moutain full of contrasts. As usual a big thanks to lovenit for always being willing to go hiking with me! I always like to thank my family for allowing me the freedom to hike, I know it hard on them sometimes.
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