Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn Peaks Elevation Uncompahgre 14,314ft. and Wetterhorn 14,020ft. (Sept. 22, 2002) "Matterhorn Trail Head: Uncompahgre's Southwest Slopes and Wetterhorn's Southeast Ridge", this trail is a class 1,2, and 3, that runs (16.5 miles rt. with 5,850ft. gain). What makes this trail hard is the length, the two peaks are 3 miles apart. The high mountain pass between the two peaks gives the adventurer awesome views in 360 degrees. The light dusting of snow made the 14,000ft.views of snow capped peaks magical.
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Trip Schedule break down
|Friday||12:00PM||-leave work (US-285 to Salida, West to Gunnison, and South to Lake City)|
|5:30PM||-arrive at Silver Creek TH for Handies Group|
|Saturday||5:00AM||-climb Handies Group|
|Sunday||5:40AM||-leave Matterhorn TH.|
|6:45AM||-pass the Wetterhorn Peak trail cutoff and over pass to Uncompahgre Peak|
|9:15AM||-summit Uncompahgre Peak.|
|11:45AM||-back to Wetterhorn. Peak trail cutoff.|
|1:50PM||-summit Wetterhorn Peak.|
|4:15PM||-back at Matterhorn TH.|
|5:00PM||-drive back to Denver after a lot of stretching.|
|10:30PM||-back in Denver.|
Expanding on my Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn outing, I started off this part of the trip by arriving at the Matterhorn TH, meeting a couple of hikers and then driving a hiker back down from the TH to the main road. It seems that a hiking parting that had climbed both Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn on Saturday got split up when part of the group wanted to go up one of the couloirs on Uncompahre instead of going around the long way. One hiker, the one with the keys to the vehicle, did not make it back to the TH. I think that the lost hiker made it back to the Nellie Creek TH and then had to get back to the Matterhorn TH.
I went to bed Saturday night not knowing if I was going to climb the next day or just backpack in on the trail a ways to make the climbs to follow day shorter. After hearing the hikers in need say that they had done both peaks from the TH in one day I thought that I might give that a shot. I woke up Sunday morning, received some reassurance from my muscles and then decided to climb both peaks in one day. I left the trail head and enjoyed the solitude of an easy yet long hike. I hiked alone for many hours until the during the last few yards to the summit of Uncompahgre where I. met two hikers who had spent the night on the summit, and another lone hiker having some breakfast. I took my pictures and then headed back down. As I approached the lone hiker that I past previous I got the feeling I had seen this person before. Sure enough it was the same hiker whom I recalled had the torn water bladder in the tent incident at East Creek. I only heard him recall the story when I met him on the summit of Mount of the Holy Cross two earlier.
Although the hike up the ridgeline on Uncompahgre had a lot of snow, the technical parts of the Uncompahgre climb were free of snow. After having walked across the very expansive valley between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre in the morning while the ground was frozen, I had the task of returning across the valley during late morning when the viscosity of the mud really started to increase.
The climb up Wetterhorn was confusing as there seemed to be many tracks in the snow, but only one set of tracks on what seemed to be the main trail. I probably took a less environmentally friendly path, but at least one that seemed to have been used by the animal herds in the valley. Once you reach the Southeast Ridge of Wetterhorn the path or should I say paths seem to multiply. I followed a set of rock cairns around to the East face and then up to the ships prow. Once at the ships prow I ran in to the two backpackers that I had seen at the Matterhorn trail head the night before. The path from the ships prow up is just like the book (Roach) says. I reached the Wetterhorn summit to find 6-8 inches of snow. The hike back to the trail head was very peaceful as everyone else in the entire valley had already left to make in back home for work or school on Monday. Back at the trail head there was one truck parked but I never saw the person.