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Wetterhorn Peak: A Colorado Classic

July 27, 2009

Wetterhorn Peak: 14,015 feet
Round-trip distance: 7.5 miles
Elevation gain: 3,800 feet

With the temperature in the thirties, the brisk early-morning breeze kept me moving from the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead. Wildlife was abundant, with deer, chipmunks and squirrels in the valley, and pikas, marmots and sparrows as I hiked higher. There were plenty of wildflowers too, including colorful columbine as I hiked through the boulder-field toward the saddle.

Matterhorn Peak

Matterhorn Peak

Just above the saddle, I caught up with some other climbers, and we helped each other with route-finding the rest of the way to the summit. After passing through the notch behind the Ship’s Prow, the cliffs of Wetterhorn Peak’s south face were amazing. The scrambling from here was solid and fun. I didn’t want the climbing to end, and I could not believe I had already reached the summit when I arrived. The three other climbers, from Utah and Arkansas, joined me on the summit to enjoy the view of the San Juans.


Pika, Columbine


For a little more fun, I climbed Ship’s Prow, another short and easy scramble, for a good view of Wetterhorn’s summit pitch, as the others descended. The weather held beautifully and I saw more mule deer at timberline during my pleasant descent.

Wetterhorn Peak

The Prow, the cliffs...


... and the summit pitch:

Wetterhorn Peak

Now I understand why Wetterhorn Peak is such a beloved mountain. Put simply: a pleasant trail leads to a scramble up solid rock with good exposure and a great view. The slippery scree that curses so many of Colorado’s mountains is nowhere to be found here. This is one of Colorado’s most aesthetic fourteeners.

Wetterhorn Peak

On the summit, descending...

Wetterhorn Peak

... and a look back:

Wetterhorn Peak

Some parting views:

Wetterhorn Peak

Wetterhorn Peak, Matterhorn Peak, and Uncompaghre Peak

Uncompaghre Peak