Peak(s):  Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,309 feet
Date Posted:  09/15/2008
Date Climbed:   09/14/2008
Author:  14ergirl

 2 days in the San Juans  

The husband and I took off Friday night for a 2 day adventure in the San Juans! We had Uncompahgre in mind since our first attempt was rained out and we were turned back at 14,000ft. We hoped to get Wetterhorn in the mix, but we were going to play it by ear.

Uncompahgre report

We pulled into Lake City late Friday night and decided to just camp in the back of the Tahoe at TBears campground in town. We knew the weather was going to be perfect so we set the alarm for 6, but figured a little snooze wouldn't hurt. We slept until 7 and awoke to frost on the windows, it was 22 degrees outside. We hit the bathrooms in the campground and found yummy coffee awaiting. Something warm was perfect at that moment. We paid our bill and headed up to Nellie Creek TH. The road up Henson Creek is an easy gravel road and the road up to the parking lot is 4 miles of rough 4 wheeling. Our Tahoe was fine, but we heard that it was hard on some other trucks that had turned around. We hit the trail at 9:15 and were on the summit by 1:15. The sky was so blue so we stopped a lot, took our time, relaxed and it felt great! the trail is straight forward, there was some snow on it this time around and the gully at the top was muddy and slippery, but there was a 70 year old couple climbing it and doing great!! I was impressed!!! We spent a while on the summit and took in the sun, a little too much, I am so sunburned!
Here are pictures from the hike!

Starting out

Snow on the trail

On the summit

coming down the gully

Much deserved Beer!

So after a great Chicken sandwich and cheeseburger at Southern Vittles in Lake City we headed back to the campground and showered, went to bed.

Wetterhorn report
Up the next morning with anticipation of climbing Wetterhorn. I have to admit, I was really nervous. We stopped by a bakery and grabbed a breakfast buritto and coffee at 7am and headed to Matterhorn Creek TH. We made it up to the 4wd parking and met up with Carpe Diem (dave). He was hiking alone so we decided saftey in numbers and the more the merrier. We headed up the trail together at 8:15am.

Heading out of the Valley

On the easy part of the trail with the danger behind us

We followed the trail past 2 other turnoffs and the Wetterhorn trail is apparent as you wind underneath Matterhorn and then under Wetterhorn. We went through talus and boulders and caught some pics of a great Marmot who posed for us

Then headed up through a snowfield and onto ridge

Once on the ridge you walk up and over the yellow dirt and rock and look head on at the difficulties which never exceeded class 3, but definitely gets your heart pumping at times.

the view looking down as you traverse

We traversed through dirt and rocks on a steep slope and up into a gully that leads you to 2 rocks that are slanted towards each other.
We assumed this was the notch where you have the 2 choices. After speaking to someone on the trail we were told to go left at this point.

Once through this notch we found a gully that we went straight up and gained the ridge, but we aren‘t sure that this was correct???

From here at the top we became very confused. We looked at Bill‘s Route and Gerry‘s route several times. We were still pretty far from the "Prow", but going left took us up over the ridge and required class 4 moves. Going back down looking around the first tower appeared to be the wrong way, so then we went back up to the ridge and went to the right and around the northeast face. We split up to try and find the route here and just found Carins going every different direction. I decided after up climbing and down climbing some class 4 stuff that this was getting to be too much and I wanted to go home. I yelled at the guys and said let‘s give up. I was shaking from fear and realized that this just wasn‘t worth it. After getting back up to the top of the ridge, my husband said he wanted to check one more time by going left around to the 2nd tower. He had to cross a few slick slabs of rock with the steep slope behind him, but once looking up he decided this was the route and we just had to get past both the towers of rock and head up the the gully to the right side of the prow.

Looking back at the notch while trying to figure out where to go

Finally getting over to the left and finding the route up to the prow, this is looking back to the notch

Once at the Prow

Christian going through the notch

Choose the notch on the right of the prow- not this one

Once through the notch there is a slab of rock you come out on and then move over to the right to climb the rest of the route up a 150ft of fun class 3 scrambling!

the slab of rock after the notch

Holy Schist climbing the stairs

looking back down at Carpe Diem on his way up- we went one at a time- no sense in 2 or 3 people dying in case of fall.

Once you are 15ft from the top there is a nice ledge that you have to walk across, pucker facter with snow on it... 9/10

And then the summit!!! Hell YEAH!!!!!

christian sighing relief

Dave gaining the summit!

Summit photos

On the way back down we easily found the route and just had some heartpumping downclimbing, but mostly because of the exposure.
Some of the downclimbing:

And then back at the ridge/saddle:

And finally a few water photos;

Carpe Diem.. Thanks for keeping us company yesterday. Hope to hike with you again sometime. What a perfect day yesterday!!! We loved your comment as we got back down on the easy trail - when you shouted your expletives of joy!! Our sentiments exactly!

A few notes on this route: Bill describes it best, but with so many options and even more carins that lead you so many different ways take your time once through the first notch and look carefully at where you want to go. It is obvious now to go all the way left once out of the notch, but it isn‘t easy so you may continue looking for the easier passage- seems to us, there isn‘t one. Once you are all the way to the left and can see the top of the prow on your left you will know you are in the right place.

I have a very healthy respect for this mountain, looking back I had a great time, but glad it is done. I don‘t think I want to do anything harder than that. Therefore there will be no finishing of the 14ers for me. :-(


 Comments or Questions

09/15/2008 20:16
Great and exciting photo‘s, made me want to be there, right now!
I LOVE the marmot pic! you either must have been rally close to him, or had acamera with telephoto!


Awesome photos
09/15/2008 21:55
Awesome trip report. It‘s funny that you had so much route finding difficulty on Wetterhorn; typically I‘m horrible with route finding but I found my way flawlessly on Wetterhorn.


Nice job!!!
01/19/2011 03:38
I bet you‘ll be chomping at the bit for a harder 14er soon enough
nickaa, do all TRs get three stars, regardless of quality?


Good for you!
09/16/2008 17:25
Nice climb, guys; and nice photos, too! Not sure why you had problems with the route-finding (maybe it was the snow), but glad you hung in there and bagged this one--definitely one of my own favorite summits.


So easy a 5-year-old could do it
09/16/2008 19:28
Just kidding!! I couldn‘t resist. Your pics turned out great! It certainly was a gorgeous day! And thanks for letting me tag along. I don‘t know if I would‘ve tried that last pitch alone. I‘m definitely glad I did Sneffels first and gave Wetterhorn another day to dry out. I‘d hike with you B.A.M.F.s anytime.

Powdergator, yes, 14ergirl was just about close enough to floss that marmot‘s big teeth.

cftbq, snow wasn‘t the cause of the route-finding difficulty. We just came to a point on the left (west) side of the ridge where we (or maybe it was just me) didn‘t see any more cairns, couldn‘t spot a clear trail segment, and it looked like we‘d have to traverse on/across some steep, loose dirt and possibly a little patch of snow. So we investigated the right (east) side of the ridge which did have more cairns but wasn‘t described in either route description.


09/16/2008 23:08
Well done, kids! Looks like a blast! I‘m guessing you‘re not going to be willing to go back and do these again with me? ;)


The photos alone got my heart racing!
09/19/2008 04:40
Awesome trip report... Makes me think twice about trying to tackle this peak next year...of course, I‘ve nearly run out of easy ones, so I guess it‘s time to give it a go.


Photo Assay!
10/22/2008 10:35
Dam! You‘re smiling so big in most of these photo‘s, it made me laugh! You VERY obvisouly had a great time


Strong Work :)
09/19/2008 12:46
I‘m glad to know the two of you made it -- I thought about y‘all while I was strolling up redcloud & sunshine... I may have to pick your brain next year when I attempt the challenge.

Side note: I caught up with the 14ers police forum and have had quite a chuckle on some of the comments... people are interesting

Say hello to Scott & John.....

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