Peak(s):  Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,021 feet
Date Posted:  07/31/2019
Modified:  08/01/2019
Date Climbed:   07/20/2019
Author:  Maverick6981
Additional Members:   RyGuy
 Wetterhorn - Back to the San Juans!   


From the Sawatch to the San Juans

Ah, the San Juans. There is so much to say and appreciate about this range but I'll save that for another time. Wetterhorn has been on my mind for awhile now but, due to having to sit out a year due to knee surgery, I had to put it off. Now that I am getting close to being at 100% again, I have been choosing progressively more demanding routes that would supplement the work I have been doing in physical therapy. The week prior to Wetterhorn, I was able to successfully reach the summit of Mt. Columbia via the SE Ridge (long day). It felt great finally getting back above 14,000' after a year of patiently following doctor's orders. A few days after the Columbia trip, I felt that I was pretty close to being back to 100%. I even got cleared by the physical therapist to kick it up a notch. I was debating between a few different options the following weekend and was pretty set on making an attempt at Shavano with the option of going for Tabeguache depending on weather and how the knee felt. I wasn't looking forward to the gain of that trip but was still excited nonetheless. Thankfully, a few days before I was set to head out to the Sawatch, I got a message from Ryguy that read somewhere along the lines of, "I've got a proposal for you. Any interest in going for Wetterhorn on Saturday (drive out Friday) and then do some camping near American Basin?" I was very interested but expressed my concern about my car not being able to make it up there. He mentioned carpooling and that he'd pick me up from work on Friday after I got off. Done deal. I was stoked to go back to the San Juans weeks before I had planned on it. I didn't get off work till 6:00 pm but Ryan was there waiting for me. I threw all my gear into his Jeep and we set off towards Lake City. The drive out there went by pretty quickly because we spent the majority of the time talking about climbing, psychology, and philosophy. I always appreciate great conversation. We didn't get to the trailhead until after midnight. Thankfully Ryan had a bunch of camping spots mapped out from his previous trips there and we found a spot to quickly setup our tents for the night.

The Next Morning

Morning views from the camp site

Ryan and I had been talking for a few weeks about trying to coordinate plans and it worked out well that both of us wanted to do Wetterhorn for our own reasons. We were both coming back from a hiatus so we took that into account when setting our pace for the day. There was a lot of avalanche debris around the trailhead but the parking area was just fine.

Our first view of Wetterhorn peaking out

I was admiring how green everything was and appreciating being back in the San Juans after so long. We continued on our conversation from the prior evening and I began asking him questions about parallax.

That little point on the right became a landmark I referenced frequently as I tried to understand the concept of parallax
Matterhorn makes an appearance after leaving the trees!
That ridge looks awesome though I hear it's quite a chossy mess
Still enthralled by that ridge...
And the prominence of Unc
Ryan further explaining parallax to me

There was a small section of snow we had to cross in order to gain the ridge but nothing crazy.

Looking at the upper sections and start of the fun stuff
Next section
Them San Juan views...
Waiting for others to come down the final pitch
At the start of the final pitch
It's fun climbing
On the summit
More views
Summit marmot
Going back down

This was an awesome, last minute trip that was a lot of fun. The following day consisted of driving up Cinnamon Pass, checking out American Basin, hiking some ranked 13ers and camping with some other great folk. I have heard Wetterhorn being described as "the perfect 14er" because it has a little bit of something for everyone. I would agree with that statement. So much so that this has now taken the top spot for my favorite 14er! Below is a video trip report I put together from this adventure. Stay safe out there and happy climbing!

Video Trip Report

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

Comments or Questions
08/01/2019 02:34
Congrats on another peak! Good to hear you are working your way back from surgery. Nice report and video with some valuable tips.
Thinking about those above you and giving every effort not to send even the smallest rock to those below. I love that one
My favorite 14er also. Got lost the first time. Dummy me did not read the route description took a left not a right? you know where.
Did this one with my son and another time with a friend. Great times. Perfect Peak.

Nice work!
08/01/2019 08:35
Awesome to see you getting back at it these past few months!

Great Report!
08/01/2019 13:25
I love the video. Paced perfectly and give me a feel for the climb. I've done Uncompahgre, Handies, and a couple of others in that area. I was going to do Wetterhorn yet it snowed the night after we did Uncompahgre and the snowline was at about 10,000 ft. I prefer safer conditions. Looks like some fun scrambling. Thanks.

08/01/2019 16:00
Thanks everyone! It feels great to get back out there Nick!

Great Video!!
08/02/2019 08:42
Fantastic report and the video was very informative! You should keep making those, really gave a good feel of what to expect on this peak!

Glad you're back at it!

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