Dan and I hiked Wetterhorn Peak on June 25, 2017 – my birthday (!) – and both really enjoyed the hike. There was surprisingly little snow along the trail, as opposed to our hike up Mt. Sneffels the day before. We started the hike at 6:15 AM and got back to the car around 12 PM, which included ~30 minutes at the top for view-gazing and a 9 AM lunch of beef jerky, hah.
Wetterhorn Peak – Southeast Ridge
- Round-trip distance: 7 miles
- Start elevation: 10,800 feet
- End elevation: 14,015 feet
- Elevation gain: 3,300 feet
- Difficulty: Class 3
- Range: San Juan Mountains
- Trailhead: Matterhorn Creek
We started nice and early with the alarm going off at 5:30 AM. I usually don’t get home from work until 12 AM or later –> sleep time is usually 1 AM+. So anything before 7 AM is a calamity in my hazy, sleep-deprived brain. We keep honing our car camping skillz and discovered on this trip that we could leave breakfast and coffee supplies in the back of the truck with us = bonus 15 minutes extra in the warmth.
Eventually the time comes to get going. Goodbye warmth, hello cold cruel world. Plus immediately hiking UP + sucking wind.
Wetterhorn Peak is one of my favorite 14ers so far. The first half or so is beautiful single track (barf, pretentiousness) through rolling alpine tundra, naturally weaving through a billion marmot neighborhoods. Half the fun of this hike was watching all the marmots cheep, chase each other around, and of course, drink urine off the rocks. They must have an alarm system engage in their brains because within 30 seconds they are NEARLY AT YOUR PANTLESS SELF. That’s why the trail head signs warn you to pee on rocks not dirt or alpine plants..
The second half ramps up to second class and then to second/third class – rocky, loose and steep. There were so many paths through this section and we ended up going (incorrectly?) around the east side for worsening loose-ness which was not fun. I would step up on a large rock, it would shift, and naturally I was convinced that a thousand tons of rock was imminently ready to slide me down the thousand foot cliff. With a whiff of danger, everything is remarkably much larger/more catastrophic in my mind! I think that’s a cognitive distortion called magnification.
Then was the actual third class section which involved climbing with hands (not actual rock climbing, but I used my hands to heave myself up..). It was a lot less scary than the slide-y part.
Then POOF we were at the top and eating cheese and crackers. AND celebrating my birthday and not my untimely death at age 31! We talked with another group for a little while and took some photos. Another group of four summited so we took our cue and got the hell out of there before six other potential-rock-sliding people made their way down.
We went the correct way down the loose part and it was way better. Side note/obvious: its way easier to navigate on the way down when you can see everything. Then it was almost a run down from there.
Yay for being done at 12 PM without an insanely long drive ahead of us! Commence car camping all day!! Chicken tacos and birthday brownies for lunch. Then reading, napping, and enjoying the glorious-ness of living out of our truck. We had a campfire and pasta and beer for dinner. Pro refueling strategy? I actually asked Dan if beer counted as carbo loading. A [31 year old] girl can dream.