Peak(s):  Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,015 feet
Date Posted:  09/09/2009
Date Climbed:   09/06/2009
Author:  Mooney Pilot
 Upward Through the Fog  

During what has become an annual Labor Day Weekend trip to Pagosa Springs, I took a side trip to Lake City to take a stab at Wetterhorn Peak.

My wife Beverly and I lifted off from East Texas shortly after lunch on Friday. We arrived at my mother's home in the Texas Panhandle in time for dinner and for me to take a spin on my brother's Harley.

Our Saturday morning departure was delayed due to low clouds and fog, but the sun broke out in time for us to take off and be in Pagosa for lunch. I left Beverly there with our friend Joan, headed to Lake City, picked up a "to go" grilled chicken wrap from Poker Alice, and arrived at the 2WD trailhead shortly before dark.

The route from Lake City up Henson Creek Road to Wetterhorn and Matterhorn is well marked. Turn right at this sign:
Follow this sign to the Wetterhorn/Matterhorn trailheads:
I parked near this sign:
From the 2WD trailhead, I toted my gear less than a mile up to the 4WD trailhead and set up my tent. Shortly after dark a light rain started. It continued off and on throughout the night. My quest to climb Wetterhorn was beginning to look doubtful, but I had come a long way. I decided, despite the inclement weather, to get an up-close look at the peak even if I didn't climb it.

My hike on Sunday morning began in the fog. Fortunately there was a solid trail. Although I couldn't see the surrounding mountains, forward visibility was good enough to keep going in hope that the fog and low clouds would burn off as expected. As I approached the ridge, I could make out a faint outline through the low clouds:
The hike was fairly easy until I reached the Class 3 stretch, less than 1,000 vertical feet from the summit. As I was deciding that it was not a great idea to do Class 3 climbing in marginal weather with no partner, another hiker, Dustin from Denver, caught up with me. Introductions were made, we assessed the situation, and agreed to accompany each other the rest of the way.

In case you've never done any Class 3 climbing, here are a few suggestions: 1. Wear a climbing helmet. 2. Wear gloves with a good gripping surface. 3. Wear pants even if the weather is warm, or you will skin your knees.

The views from the summit were obscured by the clouds, but the clouds started to break up just as I was ready to begin my descent. I was able to get some interesting photos from the summit:
Image Image
Midway through my descent, the fog and clouds began to dissolve. I looked back and had my first view of the mountain that I had just climbed:
I have mixed feelings about my experience of climbing Wetterhorn Peak. There is certainly a sense of accomplishment in having climbed the mountain that the website ranks as the sixteenth most difficult of Colorado's 14ers. But it would have been nice to have better visibility from the summit. I already knew what the inside of a cloud looks like.

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

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