Peak(s):  Broken Hill  -  13,256 feet
PT 13,300 C  -  13,300 feet
PT 13,201  -  13,201 feet
PT 13,091  -  13,091 feet
PT 13,106  -  13,106 feet
PT 13,158  -  13,158 feet
Date Posted:  10/13/2016
Modified:  10/14/2016
Date Climbed:   10/08/2016
Author:  bergsteigen
 Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre's quiet 13er neighbors   

Broken Hill, Pt 13,300 C, Pt 13,201

Trailhead: Matterhorn
Mileage: 13.15
Elevation Gain: 4,976'
Partners: Solo

With fresh snow falling on Thursday and the gathering this weekend, I figured I would go and hike something reasonably easy. I had originally planned this group of 6 as a single day traverse, with either a car shuttle or a bike. But it never happened, so I decided to split it into 2 days for this trip. I still think the traverse would be interesting, but that's for someone else to do now.

I camped below the high clearance 4x4 road over night, then got up with the sun to drive the last little bit of road. I did not get an early start, and it was well past 7am (if not after 8am) by the time I started up the initial trail. Once to the big meadow area, I found where the old defunct road went into the trees and followed it. Plenty of downed trees to go around, but otherwise pretty easy hike uphill. I left the road to gain the west ridge of Broken Hill and followed that up towards the summit. The snow along this part of the route was thin, but still prevalent. Later it would pretty much all melt away.

Fresh Snow on the trail, as I glimpse Wetterhorn for the first time

Hiking up road, first view of Broken Hill

Looking back on the snowy road

Route up Broken Hill on left

As I approached the rocky summit block area, I wondered about the exact route. Getting closer, I could see a use trail that skirted the difficulties to the right. From there it was a very scree rich scurry to the summit. Some pretty glorious blue bird views today!

Broken Hill summit block, route to right


Wetterhorn is not skiable yet.

Summit pano

Tomorrow's 13ers

Route up Broken Hill

With a long day planned, I couldn't stay too long. Just posted a couple beta pics for the gathering goers. Though with all the sun, most of the snow would melt before they got on the trails!

I followed the lower angle path, so as to not slip on the snow too much, and contoured my way around a couple hills on my way to intersecting the Wetterhorn trail. I found one particularly deep snow patch where I post holed above the knees. First post hole of the season!

Looking back on Broken Hill

Looking back on Broken Hill

Wetterhorn and Matterhorn

When I met up with the standard route up Wetterhorn, I was not surprised to see tracks already going uphill. Beautiful day, why waste it? As I was hiking up to the saddle, I briefly saw someone peek over the summit cliff.

Matterhorn and Uncompahgre

I got to the saddle and hoped the traverse over to the 13,300 C saddle wouldn't be too bad. I look over the edge and am pleased that it would go easily, and I even found a decent use trail to use as well.

From that saddle, I tried to find the best snow free route up to the summit. The feet had gotten a bit wet from that big post hole section, so I was trying to avoid making it worse.

13,300 C from Wetterhorn saddle

Approaching 13,300 C

Route up 13,300 C

Wetternhorn from 13,300C

The summit area of 13,300 C is pretty broad, and I spend some time wandering around, seeing what the exact high point is and taking photos. After the wandering, it was the rocky section by where I initially climbed up. When I find the summit register, it's confirmed. I think this one also has a super unofficial name, but I forgot to take note of it.

Summit pano

With the sun getting further west, i keep hiking down the ridge of 13,300 C on the way to 13,201. There is supposably a trail down below to the east, but I could only see meager hints of it. My GPS even showed a trail coming up the ridge and following it down to the saddle area with 13,201. I continued to follow the ridge, when I probably should have descended to the main saddle in pic #16. Probably added on more time than I would have otherwise liked.

Looking back on 13,300C from ridge

!3,201 from 13,300 C ridge

There was supposed to be a trail that goes around at about 13,400, But I couldn't find it. It kept going lower and lower to a bit of a game trail and contoured at about 12.2K. So after a bit I decided I wouldn't go up the south slope, but instead went up the steep east ridge/flank area. Steep but doable. Didn't take any photos since I was in the shade and it wouldn't show anything, plus it was getting late at this point too.

Took a nice break on the summit, even it it was about 4:30pm. Lovely long shadows on the neighboring snowy peaks. Redcloud and Sunshine looked pretty dry.

Summit ridge of 13,201

Summit pano NE

Summit pano SW

Broken Hill looking mostly snow free now!

On the return, I followed my way up and got back to the saddle with Wetterhorn Basin. There is supposed to be a trail back to the main one, and it got more visible the closer I got to it. Likely all the snow covered most of the obvious trail.

A macabre trail sign. The rest of the skeleton and fur was a bit lower on the trail

Approaching Wetterhorn Basin, with 2 trail signs - dueling


Sunset on a snowy trail.

The trail decisions were pretty interesting and after only seeing the mineralization in the lower stream, I noticed that between the 2 stream crossings on this trail, is where the old defunct mine is that is polluting the stream..

Pt 13,091 (Litte Nellie Point), Pt 13,106 (Nellie Point), Pt 13,158 (Non-Compahgre)

Trailhead: Nellie Creek
Mileage: 10.69
Elevation Gain: 3,679'
Partners: Solo

I left the campsite at about 6:30 and was up at the upper Nellie Creek TH just before 7:30. After a bit of getting ready, I used the trail for about 20' before I left it and took an old defunct road that I had spotted on my GPS. Since I had planned a traverse initially, I didn't really think about this cutoff until now. Once above the meadow, the route is pretty clear, and the going is pretty fast. I make very good time up to the broad saddle ridge area and spot my way over to the 13091 ridge.

Uncompahgre framed

13,106 from road

13158 and Uncompahgre

13106 and 13091

Once on the main ridge, the traveling was at 3-3.7mph all the way to the summit. Plenty of super random cairns all over. I doubt there is any way to get lost on this ridge!

13106 saddle

Long tundra jog over to 13091

Cairn and San Luis group

Summit Pano

I keep thinking about the scene in Lord of the Rings with the flaming towers...

Took a short break on the summit. I figured the route today would be super easy... so why rush too much? Probably shouldn't underestimate the San Juans, even easy peaks can throw curve balls.

On the return, I met a super friendly local that was just as curious about me, as I was about him. Really wish I had my zoom lens on at the time, but I didn't want to take the backpack off and rustle through it. Figured that would be too much.

Why are there 3 huge cairns? Someone got bored!

After that, I went up the nice grassy ramp I saw on the way up from the trailhead initially. On top, the ridge is long and flat, until you get nearer to the summit area. The ridge to the cairn was made all the more interesting by the snow on the north side of it. A bit more scrambly than I had anticipated! Fun. At the first cairn, I wasn't sure if it was this one or the next, even though this first one had the summit register. But my map showed a lower angle slope by the end of the ridge, so I had to go there anyway.

Cairn on the summit?

At the other cairn, looking back at the other one. Which is higher?


13158 and Uncompahgre

It was a steep talus slope down to the first break, then another steep grassy slope down to the trail. I took it to the junction of the Uncompahgre trail, and went up that for a short bit until I could cross after the little waterfall. Having only summitted Unc in snowy conditions on skis, I was a bit surprised to see the surroundings dry!

Looking back on 13106

Where I left the Uncompahgre trail


The slope up to the ridge with 13158 was littered with boulders and strange looking rock features. You couldn't put up a cairn if you wanted to here! Undulating terrain all the way up to the 200' foot slope of super crap. That was the worst part of the entire trip.

Rocky garden on path to 13158

13106 and 13091

The snow made the obvious ascent scary. So I ended up scrambling up the slightly more solid rock to the ridge. While it was more solid, it was also steep and down sloping rock, so not a good decent option. I ended up going down the snow slope, very carefully. But it did not look fun on the way up.

On the ridge, I was happy to note that the west side was not a complete cliff! Even a bit of a use trail all the way up. It stays pretty close to ridge proper for most of it.

The slope of suck!

Finally on saddle, looking at summit

At least the west side isn't a cliff!

I enjoyed the summit for as long as I could, since I knew it was late, and there was a gathering to attend!

Steep ridge line with Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre

A sunny last view before crawling downhill

The descent sucked as bad as I imagined it would. I mostly crab walked, trying to keep my center of gravity lower, in case I did slip on the snow. I was quite happy to be back on flat ground. The return to the trail was quick, and my feet barely got wet today! Amazing how a little sun can melt away a light snowfall!

Note: Bill just added 50 photos. So I may edit the TR with that in mind later... I have to go to the TGR movie now

My GPS Tracks on Google Maps (made from a .GPX file upload):

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40

Comments or Questions
Nice report!
10/13/2016 20:43
LOVE the different look of the SJ's with the light dusting of snow! It changes it's appearance completely giving it much more texture than a mid-winter one.

Regarding the 3 cairns - maybe someone was just picking up the place, getting the clutter off the floor.

Is that an ermine? Curious little creature.

Great trip, Otina! Thanks for sharing!

Another Gem!
10/13/2016 20:47
Really enjoy all your reports. A great reminder that I need to get back to Lake City and do some 13ers down there, it is such a pretty area.

10/13/2016 23:06
you might have seen me or my group on wetterhorn that day. it was a beautiful day.

Thats a "short tailed weasel" btw, I've looked them up when I saw one on a 13er summit one time. Rare animal to see

10/14/2016 08:17
By the pictures. Good job and thanks for sharing those angles of Unc & Wet!

Love the unique perspective
10/14/2016 10:00
I'm definitely filing this away on my to do list. Thanks for sharing!

10/14/2016 15:11
Great stuff, Otina.

Thanks All!
10/17/2016 12:03
MtnHub - The mountains always look better with snow on them But yes, the fall dusting does bring out the special textures.

Tornadoman - The 13ers are a great excuse to go revisit special places, without having to repeat. Seeing these peaks from different vantage points, really makes that apparent. Maybe I'll ski these sometime...

Trotter - Beautiful day for Wetterhorn! Short tailed weasel eh? Either way, I was excited to see it so curious about me!

XterraRob - Tough to take bad photos on these days. Too bad Furthermore had cloudy conditions for one of his days. Scanning his TR didn't give me the an indication about how amazing the views would be.

aweskamp - Very worth the trip!

Bill - Great to see you again. Looking forward to skiing soon!

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