Peak(s):  Handies Peak  -  14,058 feet
Redcloud Peak  -  14,037 feet
Sunshine Peak  -  14,004 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,021 feet
Uncompahgre Peak  -  14,318 feet
Mt. Sneffels  -  14,155 feet
Wilson Peak  -  14,021 feet
El Diente Peak  -  14,175 feet
Mt. Wilson  -  14,256 feet
Date Posted:  08/07/2022
Date Climbed:   07/19/2022
Author:  texaseagle16
 9 Peaks in 9 days   

2022 brought some hardships throughout the year, but was looking forward to some more 14ers this time in the San Juans. The drive to Lake City brought some familiar stops along the way to include Bents New Fort, The Spanish Peaks, and Creede. Over Slumgollion Summit, I found a spot to sleep for the night with altitude that brought me some waterfalls and the first view of some of the San Juans.

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First up was the drive to the American Basin in my new to me 4WD Colorado in a hailstorm, so made for an interesting first drive into the mountains. I came across only a handful of people, one of which was an older woman with a small dog that did not mention doing Handies Peak the next morning. Little did I know I would see her slowly but steadily pushing up halfway on my way back down. For an acclimation climb for my first of the trip, I found it to be pretty gentle with great views to include what I was to do the next day with Redcloud and Sunshine.

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After getting back to the truck well before noon, and with a short drive to the Grizzly Gulch trailhead, I found ample time to explore the old buildings and soak up the ice cold stream throughout the afternoon. I planned for another 4AM, but was waken soon after 2AM by the guy would came in the previous evening in a low riding sedan and big bong, which I have no issue with, was just surprised to see it. He was the one who started early but never came across him again with his car gone when I got back. So I took my time after an earlier start shortly before 3AM summiting both peaks and back down before the early afternoon storms. I came across a guy who said he took some great pictures of me from a distance in the alpine glow of the sunrise and exchanged emails to receive those at a later point. Overall, this ended up being a harder day than Handies but well on my way to getting the 9 I started out for this trip.

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Next was a rest day in Lake City explore the town and get a decent meal in the meantime. After some recommendations and considerable thought with road and weather conditions, I decided to drive up to the Wetterhorn trailhead making it to the last 3/4 mile stretch to do both Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre in the same day. I did not want to risk my new to me truck on the Nellie Creek Road and plus the weather for 22nd was great as the 23rd not so much. I planned for an early start by around 230AM summiting Wetterhorn in the dark, which was not the worst thing in the world, as to not see the void behind me as exposure is my most anxiety riched concern on any mountain. The alpine glow down from the saddle was great none the less and was well on my way cutting under the Matterhorn to the Unc. I see why it is the Matterhorn as the valley beneath this was so beautiful reminding me of the Swiss Alps and The Sound of Music. I heard sheep and a sheep dog in the distance and made my way up Uncompahgre along with another guy and couple who were visiting doctors to Lake City. It was great to get through the crux with others around this time. A story was told about a 4 wheeler accident of a engaged couple who went off a pass in front of one of their parents in the vehicle behind them, sad story but the extent of the worst the doctors have come across in the years of doing so. I met another guy on the way down who was doing the double not soon behind me, and would be someone to talk to on the long slog back to the trailhead. He caught up to me due to the aforementioned sheep hear and the sheep dog that did not want me near his sheep being not so friendly delaying my time by over 30 minutes until the herd ventured far enough away. Out of all the animals I thought would be my demise one day, a sheep dog half my height was not one of them. I recommend doing the Wetterhorn first, as the slog back was tiring and could not imagine having to do that one after that long stretch to do Uncompahgre. Overall, a long day, but good to get back to town seeing the Hard Tack Mine on the way out.

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Next was another rest day as I drove around to the other side of the San Juans towards Ouray. I stopped to see the Black Canyon National Park on the way and so glad I did seeing some amazing nature on the way.

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I did not care too much for Ouray being so busy with people as it was, but I soon left for Sneffels to see what all the fuss was about it being the best of them all. I have to say, it is probably could be my number 1 as well now, but for sure in the discussion of the top 3 14ers. The drive up was not as bad as I thought making it up to the vaulted bathroom to stage the next day's climb. I was met with much storm activity staying mostly in my truck but dismayed of how many people came down a couple hours after it started. Regardless, light rain continued into the night only to be woken at 1AM by people prepping to go up. It was still sprinkling so gave myself another hour before heading up in mainly clear skies. In the dark up to the saddle was not fun to do not being able to see up too far. I was joined at this part by a pretty little lady through the last stretch of the gully and crux of the exposed 3rd class move through the notch. The views were breathtaking and with the sunrise, was for sure worth the early 2AM start. She wanted some time to herself, so back down I went taking my time on my not such great military ridden knees. She soon caught up to me and chatted back to the upper trailhead before she took off running back down. I was not up for that so leisurely made my way back and on my way around towards Telluride.

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Wilson Peak was next up, and the drive in the rain and mud to the trailhead of Rock of Ages was not too much fun. Bugs and overgrown vegetation were the story of the evening staying cloudy and drizzly throughout the next morning as well. The climb up was muggy with the peak in clouds to the summit with not much of a view until I was back below the saddle before it cleared just long enough for me to get a glance at before becoming shrouded in clouds once again and staying drizzly most of the way back to the truck. By far my least favorite peak of this trip and being called Rock of Ages is no joke with rocks for days on end.

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Changing up my last rest day coincided with an interview that came up for me in hopes of moving further up the ranks in the National Weather Service and hopefully back to Texas from the lonely vastness of western Kansas in Dodge City. Time will tell, so hope to find out soon, but I was able to find a spot in Telluride with service to set up my WIFI to the laptop in order to conduct the interview in the back seats of my truck.

For the last day of climbing came the decision to do the El Diente and Mt. Wilson traverse, in which I favored to do them from separately from the split due to the wetness of the previous days rain and not feeling comfortable doing a solo traverse. Maybe one day, but 14ers are the main objective for me. After an early start, I caught many pairs of eyeballs near treeline only later to find out were only deer thankfully. The climbs up each were uneventful being wet going slow and steady keeping my hands free for the most part for any slippage, especially on the way down. I left my poles and extra drinks at the trail split only to have trouble finding them on my way out. I met one couple on the way down from El Diente and another guy on the way down from Mt. Wilson, neither of which planned to do the traverse nor the other peak of the two. It was a long day but the exposure was never that great to me but the slog back caught up to my aching feet and knees with almost 100 miles and 25kft elevation gain in the week and a half out in the San Juans.

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Now for the drive home with stops on the way that include seeing Mesa Verde National Park, which was not what I thought it to be having to get separate tickets to see anything up close. With time not on my side, I decided to stick to seeing them from a distance. I stopped in Durango for a good meal at the Diamond Belle Saloon along with a beer and piano music. Next up, was back to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico to see some old faces and see the normal sites throughout to include the Tooth of Time, St. James Hotel, Cold Beer, and BlackJack Ketchum's grave in Clayton, New Mexico.

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Overall, 9 more 14ers in 9 days stepping up in class through the San Juans was a great trip. I am not sure if I will focus on the Sangre de Cristos next summer or be on my way back to the Winds of Wyoming and volcanoes of the Pacific northwest to do Hood and Rainier. Either way, a 14er will be had even if it is just the lone one in Washington, but the 50 state highpoints are so close to being achieved as well so hard to choose.

Enjoy God's greatest creations, and keep klimping!

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):
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Comments or Questions
Great Job!
08/07/2022 11:20
Enjoyed the post and the pics!

08/09/2022 22:30
report with wonderful photographs.
Especially the sunrise picture on Sneffels.

08/31/2022 10:35
Did Sneffels actually require a helmet or was that just to hold your light? Thinking about doing Sneffels next week with a guy that would be doing his first 14er. What do you think. Can he do it?

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