Peak(s):  Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Matterhorn Pk  -  13,590 feet
Date Posted:  08/19/2019
Date Climbed:   08/13/2019
Author:  Slawson405
 Wetterhorn - Matterhorn - Uncompahgre   

This was part of a week long trip to the San Juan’s. My room mate’s and I took some time off before they start grad school again to get down to the San Juan’s before that opportunity for the year is gone. Paul and myself are dedicated climbers, we knew our priorities out the would be the Wilson- El Diente traverse and hopefully the Chicago basin. However, for time sake we opted to do Wetterhorn, Matterhorn and Uncompahgre followed by Redcloud and Sunshine the following morning instead of C Basin.

We arrived at the Matterhorn Creek trailhead sometime around 1130 pm and cowboy camped in front of the truck to get a couple hours of sleep. We woke around 430 and got our gear ready, and were off by 5 a.m. we agreed we wanted to head up Wetterhorn first, followed by Matterhorn and then head over to Uncompahgre.

Matterhorn Creek trail is rather short and steady, and in no time the valley starts to open up and you’ll see Matterhorn followed by Wetterhorn poking above the horizon (Image 1). You’ll come across the junction that splits The Wetterhorn trail with the connector trail leading towards Uncompahgre. However, as a side note if you are planning on tagging Matterhorn you won’t want to come this far back on the trail, I will expand on that here shortly when it comes up. Continuing up the Wetterhorn trail we came to a field of boulders, Easier than a boulder field thankfully (Image 2). The wildflowers here were unreal, it was hard to drag myself and my jaw up the mountain. After the boulders we had gained the ridge, and looked up to see the rest of the scramble path up Wetterhorn.

We passed a few others on this stretch, whenever there is an opportunity to use my arms rather than my legs, I tend to take that route. This is where I really had fun on Wetterhorn. The scrambling is very straight forward as you work your way up, mostly solid rock with decent holds.I was dead set on climbing Ships Prow, and as I started climbing, I came upon a precarious cliff and a move that wouldn’t bother me roped up, but definitely made me rethink my confidence with a 30 foot vertical fall down a gully. Turns out I climbed the east face and not the favorable west face like I was supposed to, that’s what I get for not reading the route.

As you get closer to the summit there are a couple moves that are a good introduction to some exposed areas, i passed a gentleman man who was not encouraged by the down ward slab past the upper notch, but once he saw the handholds and got a little encouragement he knew he had it. The stretch from the upper notch to the summit is a real fun scramble, comparatively good rock, good holds, take you’re time to look at your route. This section leading to the summit is probably more difficult going down, but again it’s solid, I felt just using all 4’s and going down face forward was reliable (Image 4). Also, It’s got some areas which give the climber some freedom on how he wants to tackle the summit, which I enjoyed.

We stayed on the summit for a while then all headed down together, we made sure to take time checking out the scenery we weren’t paying attention to on the way up. Incredible. Paul and I knew the turnoff for Matterhorn was before the trail junction farther down, we kept this in mind and looked for a trail leading toward Matterhorn. Eventually we saw one heading down to cross the stream in between Wetterhorn and Matterhorn so we shot for that.

This faint trail got us to the stream which had great water, but started to disappear right as we got to the base of Matterhorn. We were both confused and didn’t see how we’d missed it. In hindsight, I think the trail listed in Roach’s book goes up the west gully leading to the western end of Matterhorn. We did not know this at the time so we, like so many other before, started the steep hike straight up Matterhorn. Luckily, it contained the most beautiful array of wildflowers I have ever seen (Images 6&7). And we both took our time, kept singing the Sound of Music theme, and kept trudging up the grassy slope. Eventually the grass ends, rock takes over and you have some minor scrambling at the end as you reach Matterhorn Peak, which I’m now certain is the smallest summit area I’ve been on. Paul and I looked back at the route and were debating if cutting over from the boulder field on Wetterhorn would save you some elevation in lieu of rock hopping (Image 3). There is a pretty level seeming path underneath the ridge one could take, but it’s all trade offs. I would definitely spent time on Wetterhorn debating which way to take up as that’s the last good vantage point you’ll have.

we came down Matterhorn in a different direction this time to angle us toward that loopy trail leading toward Uncompahgre. On our way down, we found a decently travelled path on the east side of Matterhorn as well that took us most of the way down. We finally met up with the connecting trail and started the long flat walk to Uncompahgre (Image 5). We were definitely moving fast as we wanted to be off the mountain by around 1 for storms sake. We eventually met up with the Uncompahgre trail and began to see people again. We were basically light jogging up because the sky was getting darker. Uncompahgre is a straight forward hike, just keep the legs moving and you will get there. The last 15 minutes was a rushed fast walk, as we could see storms over Sneffels and the Wilson group in the distance. We reached the summit at 1:00 pm and took on the view, it was incredible. The greenery of the valley, the weirdness of Wetterhorn’s North face. It was a spectacular day. We decided to trail run down, to save time in the rain/lightning. And to our shock there were people still trying to go up, as the sky grew dark and thundery. We stopped and talked to them, making sure they had some experience about them, or at least knew what they were in for with the weather. They definitely got rain/wind/lightning up there on the summit, as we were 1500’ elevation lower and only had some wind. Amazing how different it can be on those exposed summits right below an electrical storm.(Images 8 & 9).

We ran/smelled the flowers on the way back down, we both felt really great still after we had returned to the car. We ran into a company contracted by CFI (Colorado Fourteeners Initiative) that were repairing the trails, they did work that weekend. We saw them at Wilson/El Diente, Wetterhorn-Mat-Unc, and also Redcloud/Sunshine. All in a 6 day period, it’s so great to see a good program like CFI to get good funding to be able and maintain these trails for us.

This is my first trip report, and it’s on mobile as I don’t have a computer so I hope the formatting came out OK. Please let me know how I can improve on these as I wish to be submitting more in the future. Thanks all!




Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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