Wetterhorn/Uncompahgre Trip Report
Author and Leader: David Rogers
After a continually vacillating list of possible trip participants, and continual vacillation on the part of those who did attend regarding their departure times and modes of transportation, I finally set off from work Friday afternoon at 1:30, meeting Ruth Lommel in Espa–ola. We stopped in Creede and had dinner, then drove up to Lake City over Slumgullion Pass, arriving at the Matterhorn Creek trailhead about 8 pm. We set up our tents, and about an hour later Ellen Kress and Patti Krueger arrived.
Due to fear of the rainy August weather we set off at 5 the next morning. By the time the sun was well up we were at the 12,400 ft pass SE of Matterhorn Peak, which lies between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre. As the weather appeared favorable, we set off for the East Slopes route on Uncompahgre. There are a couple of west slope routes on this peak, but they are better done when snow covered, to avoid horrible and endless scree and talus.
We reached the top of Uncompahgre at roughly 10:30 following a pretty easy walk with a brief section of class 3 scrambling. By this time we were seeing increasing numbers of folks who had come up from the shorter Nellie Creek Trailhead route, including three other folks from Los Alamos. After a short break on the summit, we retraced our route to the 12,400 ft pass SE of Matterhorn Peak, to contemplate our future.
There were some expressions of fatigue, but eventually Patti, Ruth, and I set off towards Wetterhorn's SE Ridge route. The climbing was again not terribly demanding, although for this portion there was no clear trail. We proceeded up a steep section towards the ridge where we joined a trail. The upper portion of the ridge appears discouraging, but as Roach says "it is easier to climb than it appears".
Finally we arrived at a shelf just below the summit, after a short traverse on some disagreeable scree. At the shelf you step around to the left and enter a steep, stair-like class 3 gully for a climb of about 150 ft to the summit. This could be unpleasant if wet, but we didn't get to verify that possibility. Having arrived at about 3 pm, we relaxed for awhile on the summit, happy that the weather was still favorable (cloudy but little buildup and no sign of lightning anywhere).
The return to our origin was uneventful except for pleasant conversation, along with whining about fatigue. About half an hour before the end of our 13-hour trip at 6 pm a light shower began. Ellen and I drove to Lake City to enjoy a great pizza accompanied by beer we illicitly brought in and poured into plastic cups. Can you imagine serving pizza without beer?! Then back to snooze in our tents under an occasional light shower, until we departed for home the following morning. Finally, I got to lead an all-women 14er trip... and they even waited for me to catch up.