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Wetterhorn and Matterhorn Peaks,
San Juan Mountains, Colorado


Participants: Steve Doorn, Gina Pasquale, Tasha, Jerry Brock, James Hunter, Edward Romero, Rob Deyerberg, and John Meier

Photos: John Meier

We left White Rock at 10 AM on the 21st for Lake City, Colorado. After a couple stops in Espanola and Tres Piedras to pick up Edward and Rob, we were on our way back to the San Juans. We decided on the road through Alamosa, Del Norte, etc. which is probably a half hour shorter than the road over Wolf Creek Pass. In true LAM form, we started working on an epic even before finding a campsite. We unknowingly split up before reaching Lake City, when one group turned off to an overlook to catch the view of Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre above Lake City.

Wetterhorn Peak

Meanwhile, Gina and I drove up the Engineer Pass Rd. to find a campsit--hoping the others were ahead of us. After choosing a nice site along the road to the Matterhorn Creek trailhead, and not yet seeing the others, I went off in search of our missing group and luckily found them. After setting up camp by 6, we enjoyed happy hour with the highlight being many hilarious Forest Service stories, "wisdom", and jokes from Rob Deyerberg.

Looking back down the trail going up Wetterhorn Peak

The next morning, we got up and hit the trailhead by 7AM. (Gina, not wanting to climb too high with our baby on the way, stayed behind with Tasha and went on a nice hike up the Aspen Gulch trail down the rode near Henson.) The Wetterhorn trail follows an old road along Matterhorn Creek, up into the basin between Wetterhorn (14015 ft) and Matterhorn (13590 ft.). Once in the basin we traversed west to climb onto the southeast ridge of Wetterhorn. The views of Wetterhorn's upper cliffs were fantastic. Once on the ridge, the route follows the crest, or just below it, up to a formation called the Sharksfin. The route to this point can follow well climbed 2nd class gullies, with many opportunities for alternative ways on fun 3rd or even 4th class rock. Routefinding was never much of a challenge, given the well worn trails from the number of people who are taken up with 14'er fever these days. Once at the Sharksfin we waited for a large group of people to descend before climbing the final pitch to the top. This is gained by climbing through a notch and descending a few feet down a cool slab to the base of the final cliff band. The last 150 feet are obvious and consist of some of the funnest climbing I've ever done on a 14'er. Too bad it wasn't 1000 feet.

From the top of Wetterhorn Peak looking over
Matterhorn Peak at Uncompaghre Peak

The final pitch is on solid 3rd class rock (possibly 4th depending on the route chosen) with moderate exposure--fun, continuous scrambling. We wanted to do laps on it. Well, we reached the summit by 10 and celebrated Edward's first 14'er with summit snacks and great views of the San Juans, including close-ups of Uncompaghre, Coxcomb, and Redcliff. After an hour on the summit, and still no clouds in the sky, we decided to descend and cruise over to the Matterhorn. On the way down, Rob Deyerberg did the short 3rd-class scramble up the Sharkfin tower. Once off the ridge, we traversed through a boulder field to reach the lower slopes of Matterhorn Pk. Our route led up its steep grassy lower slopes to reach a rocky area below the summit. 2nd class climbing (possibly 3rd) leads to a rocky narrow summit area with great views of both Wetterhorn and Uncompaghre. After another hour of lazing on the summit under clear skies, we finallly descended back to camp. Most of the group packed up and headed back home, but Gina, James and I stayed behind to enjoy another night in the cool, spruce and aspen scented high mountain air.

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