Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Date Posted:  07/25/2019
Date Climbed:   07/24/2019
Author:  Wentzl
Additional Members:   PaulMillar
 Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre in One Day   

This report is an attempt to provide useful information to those who want to climb Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre in a single day.

A couple observations right off the bat. The Gerry Roach guide describes this hike, but the map page does not show an informal hikers trail that has developed to contour around the base of Matterhorn. The text does reference "contour west into the basin between Matterhorn and Wetterhorn", it just does not show this on the map.

Roach also suggests it makes more sense to climb Uncompahgre first. I am not sure why he suggests this, probably because after summiting Wetterhorn, it is shorter and all down hill to the trailhead.

But there are good reasons for doing it the other way round. We climbed Wetterhorn first. When eyeballing the traverse that contours below Matterhorn to intersect the Stock Trail that leads to Uncompahgre, the climbers trail, which is not marked and does not show on maps, is easy to spot. This makes accessing the good trail across the valley very easy. Coming from Uncompahgre to Wetterhorn, this trail is not obvious or easy to find. The consequence of missing the trail would be difficulty in making the traverse and likely losing and regaining elevation unnecessarily.

Also, Wetterhorn is the more difficult mountain. There is something to be said for knocking off the difficult peak earlier in the day, before fatigue and bad weather sets in.

The Southwest Slopes route on Uncompahgre does have a little bit of up and down after getting out of the Matterhorn Creek basin, but it is not extreme by any means and the hike back out late in the day is pretty mellow.

So, while I hate to contradict Mr. Roach, as his guide was my sole resource for about 2/3 of the 14ers back in the late 90's early 00's, I think the better way to tackle these two peaks is to climb Wetterhorn first.

One final observation. This hike is listed as 16.5 miles and 5,850' vertical. We did this in 9 hours. Capitol is 17 miles, 5,000' vertical and last week, same two people hiking, took 13 1/2 hours. Not sure what to make of that, especially since I was dogging it yesterday and felt I was moving much more quickly on Capitol. Just throwing this out there for reader's planning purposes.

We left the 4WD Matterhorn trailhead at 6:00 a.m. and followed the usual SE Ridge route to the summit of Wetterhorn. There are plenty of Wetterhorn reports, so not much to add here. I will show the one large snow field which remains, but this is easily crossed in trail running shoes and no need for any special gear.

First light on Wetterhorn summit

Wetterhorn after clearing tree line

Paul crossing the snow field just below accessing the ridge at 13,060

Closer look at snow

Once on the ridge, there was no remaining snow worth mentioning.

We reached the summit at 8:30 a.m., which might be the earliest I have ever been on a 14er summit!

Once back on the trail below 13,000' keep an eye on the valley floor where it contours around Matterhorn. There is an obvious creek, and at the top of that creek, there is an unmarked trail. On this day, there was a short snow field to cross before reaching the creek and start of the trail. Finding this is key to enjoying this day. Going all the way down to where the Wetterhorn and Stock trail fork would mean losing and regaining something like 1000' vertical and add at least a couple miles to the day.

The climber's trail fades before intersecting the Stock Trail, which is why it would be more difficult to do this hike in reverse. When it fades, just continue gradually climbing towards the Stock Trail, which is obvious and visible during the whole traverse below Matterhorn. Eventually you reach a sign marking a trail up Matterhorn. From here is looks a little disheartening because it appears as if you will give up a lot of elevation working around the SW slopes of Uncompahgre, but in fact the up and down is pretty minimal and the line the trail takes is very efficient.

Looking back at Wetterhorn and Matterhorn from SW Slopes of Uncompahgre

Elevation lost between SW Slopes and Matterhorn Pass

The trail works its way around the south side of Uncompahgre before eventually winding around to join up with the East Slopes route coming from Nellie Creek trailhead.

South face of Uncompahgre

Uncompahgre just before reaching the East Slopes trail

Looking back at Wetterhorn before reaching Uncompahgre summit

Nearing the summit

Paul waiting patiently

I reached the summit of Uncompahgre at around 12:15 .

Wetterhorn from summit of Uncompahgre

Wetternorn from Uncompahgre Summit

Retrace the SW Slopes route back to the trail head. We were back at the car at 3:00 p.m.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Scott Conro

Good info
07/26/2019 14:34
Thanks for this. Iâm eyeing this route for mid August and this answered some of the questions I had ping-pinging in my head.

I would assume the ridge on Capitol soaks up a lot of that time. Iâm planning to do that from the TH this year too, so I guess I can compare as as well!

GPX File?
08/06/2019 09:45
Do you possibly have a GPX file from you day? Would love to get it from you if possible.


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