Peak(s):  Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Date Posted:  04/13/2020
Modified:  04/14/2020
Date Climbed:   03/14/2020
Author:  Will_E
 Farewell winter 2020 with Uncle Padre   

Uncompahgre Peak

March 14, 2020

I had a pretty fortunate winter in 2020, every peak I set out to summit, I was able to. Only a few tough weather climbs, and far less snow than winter 2019. After a crazy long night/day on the Crestones the previous weekend, decided I'd do something a bit on the easy side, at least by winter standards. I wouldn't know it at the time, but this was also about a week or so before most of the world/country/state would go into Covid-19 lockdown. The mountain communities in particular would see even tighter controls.

I drove to Gunnison on March 13 to stay the night, I had a boatload of Holiday Inn points, so the room was free. The Holiday Inn Express in Gunnison is a huge hotel, but there were maybe 6-8 cars at the hotel, people had already been backing off of travel for fear of the Covid-19 situation. We were past daylight savings, days were getting pretty long, and Holiday Inn wasn't going to put out their delicious cinnamon rolls until 6:30 am, so I slept in until 6am. On the road around 7 am to Lake City, I was hiking just before 8:30 am.

Nobody else around, I think I've had this spot each of my 4 ascents of Uncompahgre.

Another gratuitous toaster shot, free of charge.

There had been some new snowfall a day or 2 prior, but I was able to make out tracks up Nellie Creek Rd. As long as I stayed on them, everything was good. when I went slightly off track, instant posthole.

Trees had nice coat of fresh snow.



One of the creek crossings


As I continued on, the track became more faint, and I occasionally struggled to find the previous trench and would get a nice posthole prize.



Around the 3 mile mark, I put snowshoes on. The trench was pretty much gone at this point.



Made pretty good time up Nellie Creek Road, I was at the 4wd trailhead in about 2.5 hours.


After passing the 4wd trailhead, I stayed in the trees as far as I could thinking the snow would be more stable. Didn't pay much attention to the actual route, I have this one pretty much in my head. After reaching the end of the thicker forest area, Uncompahgre is finally in view.

Uncompahgre finally shows herself. I love that mountain.


From this point I make my way into the creek and follow it until it ends. The snow was pretty nice, not terribly deep.

Looking back on my nice, orderly tracks.

Camera's optical zoom has just enough capacity for nice closeup.

I continued on in a mostly straight line towards my objective, until nearing the base of the peak where you zig left. I wasn't anywhere close to the summer trail, but I knew how to get where I needed to be.


When I neared the base of the peak, I just went straight up. The summer route does a little zig zag.


From the return, showing the line I took. At the base of the rocky area I left my snowshoes and went straight up in same direction.


Making my way up the rocky section.

After ditching my snowshoes I went straight to the point where its necessary to go to the backside of the mountain. Rather than follow the summer route (which had some steep snow on it) I turned immediately right, there's a class 3ish section I climbed that allowed me to be lazy and not put crampons on. I should have taken a picture or 2. From this point to summit the route was mostly snow free, save for one short deep section.

Nearing the summit. This would be my best shot of Wetterhorn, clouds moved in just as I reached the top.



Summit. Clouds were obscuring most of my views, made me wish I'd skipped the cinnamon rolls and started earlier.

At the peak clouds had moved in and killed most of the views. Waited them out for an hour or so, but didn't clear up.

Summit temp.

Route back down was pretty straightforward, my tracks were pretty much intact, just needed to follow them. The warm weather really softened up my return, Nellie Creek Rd. was miserable a posthole party, and I was the guest of honor. Ugh.

Favorite shot of the day, on my return.

Apple stats.

Garmin stats. No idea why Garmin "time moving" stat is so far off.

GPS track.

Thanks for reading.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38

Comments or Questions

Winter Summit
04/13/2020 20:32
My one and only trip to Uncompahgre was solo in winter a couple years ago. Nobody had been back there and I had to break trail the entire way but didn't mind one bit. That first glimpse of the broad summit is really spectacular and I loved having it all to myself. #9 brings back those feels.


Chocolate chip
04/13/2020 22:00
Aren't snowshoe tracks a thing of beauty? Your favorite shot is killer.

I believe the inReach calculates "moving time" based on either an accelerometer or your compass heading. If those things don't change it doesn't count you as moving, so it won't count if you're sitting around, standing still, yada yada. Now, a difference of four hours seems impossible as I highly doubt you weren't moving anywhere close to that long but I also have an inReach (Explorer+, so a little newer) and find the "moving time" statistic pretty much useless. I wouldn't rely on it at all if I were you.

Another nice report Will, and a great winter for you!

Mooney Pilot

04/23/2020 09:18
Congrats on a successful climb and a well-crafted trip report.

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