For the first Fourteeners of the 2018 season we traveled across Colorado to the San Juan mountains. Uncompahgre & Wetterhorn Peaks are relatively close together and near the town of Lake City, which we had not visited. One of the reasons why I like to do Fourteeners is that the mountains take you to parts of the state that you might not usually travel to. A little camping, a little towning, a little mountaining — a good plan for a long weekend.
Uncompahgre Peak, Thursday 12 July 2018
First up was Uncompahgre Peak. We camped near the end of the Nellies Creek 4WD road. Monsoon rains had contained the nearby fires, but also made for a slippery trip up the road the day before. We started at 05:30, which was early enough to catch the sunrise light on Uncompahgre.
The hike itself was a wonderfully scenic walk-up, but the overcast sky prevented any remarkable photos of the verdant & varied San Juan landscape.
The view from the summit didn’t disappoint, with the jagged peaks of the rest of the San Juans to the south and the long green valleys to the north. Spent about thirty minutes taking photos & eating lunch, then headed back down.
Got back to camp at 11:00, then packed up & headed for Lake City for lodging, food, beer and as many OHV (Off Highway Vehicles) driven by Texans as you could ever want.
- When: 12 Jul 2018
- Distance: 8 mi RT
- Total Elevation: 2,849′
- Time to Summit: 3:00 hrs
- Total Time: 5:30 hrs
- Colo 14er Rank: #6
Wetterhorn Peak, Saturday 14 July 2018
We spent a leisurely Friday provisioning in Lake City and playing tourists on the Alpine Loop. We took the spur leading to Matterhorn Creek and camped just below the trailhead.
Another early start assured us morning light on Wetterhorn Peak. Wetterhorn proved to be a more enjoyable mountain with much better light.
Much like Uncompahgre, it’s a curving trail that gives you an unobstructed view of the surrounding landscape. It’s all pretty easy-to-follow trail walking. And then you come to the ‘yellow dirt’. After this section the easy scrambling begins. So we put on our helmets (primarily for rockfall from those above us) and started the steeper part.
This was our first Class 3 Fourteener, and it proved to be a fun and easy scramble, with only a wee bit of exposure.
The summit may have been the best view from a Fourteener I’ve yet seen. The sun was out, showing the San Juans in all their dramatic glory.
The down climb wasn’t bad either. Overall it’s the most fun I’ve had so far on a Fourteener.
On our way out of Lake City and en route to Creede, we stopped at Windy Point on Rt 149 near Slumgullon Pass. The view afforded us a nice panorama of our recent accomplishments.
Uncompahgre & Wetterhorn are a great introduction to both the San Juans and a more challenging mountain.
- When: 14 Jul 2018
- Distance: 7.3 mi RT
- Total Elevation: 3,295′
- Time to Summit: 3:00 hrs
- Total Time: 6:00 hrs
- Colo 14er Rank: #49