Peak(s):  Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Date Posted:  07/05/2006
Date Climbed:   07/01/2006
Author:  aubrey

 Wetterhorn  

Part 1 of my three-part trip report, "2 of us, 3 days, 4 fourteeners."

Wetterhorn Peak - Saturday, July 1, 2006

The dark drive from Lake City to the 4WD trailhead parking lot took us about 45 minutes. The Alpine Loop portion of the drive would be passable in any car, but after the turnoff it got a little rougher. Then, after taking the fork to the right, it became even rougher. That said, it still wasn't so bad. Most high-clearance vehicles should be able to make it without much trouble.

The wife and I left the trailhead at about 6 a.m. The area was incredibly scenic and it reminded me why I love the San Juans so much. It had all the elements – a cascading creek, a dense and richly green forest, mountain meadows and sweeping views of high peaks. Further up the trail, a myriad of wildflowers were in bloom. The columbine patches were especially beautiful. Chirping pikas and curious marmots were abundant as well.

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Once we got to the rocks, the fun meter went up a few notches. Even after reading the route description, we still managed to get off trail … but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. When one rock chute didn't work out for us, we just traversed across over the rocks, pulling some healthy class 3 maneuvers. Some sections were filled with air and exposure, but it was "comfortable" air/exposure. There were many handholds on the gritty rock, and it was dry so our shoes were sticking pretty well.

Here's the base of the first rock section ...

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And another rock section (had to overlap multiple photos to get it all in!) ...

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We were having so much fun we seemed to hit the summit rather abruptly. To be honest, I wanted the climb to last longer.

Made it to the top at about 8:30 a.m. ... and enjoyed it with a couple other people – one guy was from Fort Collins (who has done 21 14ers) and the other was from San Antonio (with 40 14ers under his belt). Had a lot of fun chatting with those two.

We started back down at about 9 a.m., just as a group of three were stepping on the summit. On some sections we ended up doing the crab walk (i.e., going down on our butts). Kind of reminded me of the Homestretch on Longs. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, though, and it went much quicker than I expected. Before we knew it we were back down to the yellow dirt ridge.

After the rocks, it was smooth sailing back down to the parking lot. Finished the climb at 10:30 a.m.

Overall, Wetterhorn was tremendously scenic and extremely fun. The effort/reward ratio was very nice, too.

Sidenote: Dark clouds and thunder rolled in fast – well before noon. While sucking down beers and munching on burgers at the Cannibal Grill in Lake City, the weather was kind of nasty – cold, windy and rainy. Lightning, too.

Uncompahgre was up next …



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