Peak(s):  Matterhorn Pk  -  13,590 feet
Wetterhorn Peak  -  14,021 feet
Date Posted:  10/01/2010
Modified:  11/14/2017
Date Climbed:   09/25/2010
Author:  KeithK
Additional Members:   edlins, kansas, bergsteigen
 Pocket Meat and The Alpine Junk Show   

Matterhorn Peak (13,590') and Wetterhorn Peak (14,015')
September 25, 2010
Methods: Hiking, climbing, clinging to various routes up, down and along.
Images: Some by me, others by Otina. I'm sure you can figure it out.
Gatherers, including but not limited to: Darrin (Kansas), Otina (bergsteigen), Scott (edlins), Doug Shaw, Jon Frohlich, Tiffany (tundratif), Terry (tmathews), Little Bear Jerry (jam6880), Bill (wildlobo71), Jodi (globehugger), Craig (giarcd), John (El Hombre), Sean (doggler), Brett (bhaydin), Scott Farish, Uffda, waolsen, B-Thom, a couple of Brians, Jodi (Nebnative), Dave (dcbates80911), Jim (semitrueskerm), Mike (larkinrx2), Centrifuge, Randy (randalmartin), Kendra, Lise (sp?)... probably a few more that I'm leaving out.

"There HAS to be another word for 'thesaurus'" - Deep thoughts heard nearby the campfire.

The 2010 Fall Gathering continues a tradition of excellence spanning nearly 1 decade. Okay, maybe closer to four years. My first gathering, the Winter Elbert Extravaganza, was instrumental in addicting me to the mountains, and I'm sure subsequent gatherings had a similar impact on others. "The Jamies" organized those early gatherings, Elbert, Kit Carson, Mt. Silverheels... ChicagoTransplant and USAKeller also took a turn, visiting Mt. Columbia and Huron Peak, respectively. I only became involved when the founding fathers determined that they had done what they could, and passed the proverbial torch. Or they became bored. No matter. The 2008 West Elks/Lake Irwin debacle would set the bar fairly high, taking things in an entirely different direction than previous events had, creating a standard (or lack thereof) for subsequent events. Missouri Gulch and Fourmile Creek could not quite capture the spirit of this new genre of redneck-infused post-climb belligerence, but held their own as the popularity of these computer generated whims continued to increase with each click of the "submit" button. With perfect weather and the perfect location, the 2010 version would prove to match, or surpass, any expectation.

The drive was resplendent, with Kenosha Pass and Monarch Pass glowing brilliantly with autumnal excellence. Scott and I found Darrin and Otina waiting in Lake City, and made our way through golden tunnels of aspen trees to and along the North Henson Creek road. A large meadow with a ready-made fire ring provided an excellent home base for the patrons, and we quickly established ourselves in various placements, with plenty of room for tent and car campers alike. Situated right at the base of the four-wheel drive road to the trailhead, we could either drive or stagger, or even hike, to the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead the next morning. Darrin was kind enough to manufacture a banner for the occasion, which we conveniently hoisted between two ideally spaced aspens, hoping that anyone coming along the road would easily see the reason for a disturbance of the peace that was likely unmatched in recent times around those parts. I found it nearly impossible to catch everyone's names without a sign in sheet; various characters arrived for the next few hours, before most turned in for a few hours of sleep in preparation for the next day's activities. Some went voluntarily, while some, or one, may have developed a Jameson imbalance and landed in his tent. Either way, Friday night was reasonably quiet by 11 p.m.

Token fall color shot taken by Otina somewhere along the way...

Collecting twigs for two nights' worth of campfires...

Darrin has become quite the connoisseur of fine beers...

Scott is ambidextrous...

Saturday morning arrived crisp and clean as various hikers began their quests. Darrin introduced Scott and I to a new strategy, called "Pocket Meat", involving Honey BBQ Boneless Chicken Wings from Safeway. This might turn out to be the closest thing to perfection a trail snack could ever attain, destroying Clif Bars and other sawdust-derived hiking snacks forever. Our group, consisting of Darrin, Otina, and Scott, Jon, Tiffany and myself meandered to the trailhead in my truck and began hiking. The route is straight forward, following the Matterhorn Creek Trail to the signed Ridge Stock trail, which leads uphill away from the creek towards the expansive area to the south of Matterhorn Peak. We had all decided to climb the little mountain first, then split up and form traverses to Wetterhorn, either easy or bereft of good judgment. Otina, Jon, Tiff and I chose easy, in case you were wondering.

Sometimes I take pictures of people taking pictures...

I think we'll just climb both of those today...

Cool looking little mountain...

The hike to Matterhorn Peak cannot be more obvious; we chose to stay on the Ridge Stock trail too long, but were able to easily leave the trail and hike straight across the grassy base of the mountain. A more direct route would be to turn onto the Wetterhorn trail for a short while before angling up an obvious ramp. Either way, it's a pleasant stroll along grassy tundra almost all the way up the mountain, before the summit ridge begins in rocky earnest, providing some variety to an otherwise simple thirteener. Our group caught up to Craig as he worked his way up the steepening upper reaches of the mountain, bothered by a stubborn leg issue. To his credit, he took advantage of the day and persevered, and would join us on the summit a short while later.

Tiff and Otina check out the view to the west...

Reaching the upper steeps of Matterhorn Peak...

Darrin and Scott attack the fun scrambly bits...

Jon, Darrin, Otina, Keith, Tiff, Scott...

Craig arrives!

Mt. Sneffels over the left shoulder, traverse in the middle...

The summit cone of Matterhorn Peak provides a brief, easy scramble, with at least two variations. As Doug Shaw caught up and passed me, he elected for the ridge direct approach that Darrin and Scott had also executed, and I followed suit. The others all veered to the right along an obvious scree path and twisted around and up onto the summit from the east. Either road leads to a rocky summit, with great views of the Cimarrons to the north, and literally all of the San Juan Fourteeners in all other directions, perhaps with the exception of El Diente Peak. We took a long break on the summit, consuming Pocket Meat and waiting for the traverse crew to get assembled and begin their exploration of the Matterhorn to Wetterhorn connecting ridge. From the summit, Otina and I had a great view of their progress, or lack thereof, as they began to negotiate the first tower, testing its flanks as well as its apex. Darrin peeked over the summit, and seemed perplexed by the lack of options that it presented. As if a train had run itself off of the tracks, we couldn't help but watch, semi-mirthfully, and even offer some occasional advice, such as "go down the gully and cross over the saddle", or "wow they're stubborn". We were very helpful. Finally descending briefly and crossing over the recommended saddle, the traversal crew disappeared, and we began our own descent back the way we had come, down Matterhorn's south face.

The traverse begins...

Past the first obstacle...

Otina and I quickly outpaced the others, as I don't think they really had it in their heads that they were going to be climbing a Fourteener later that day. We chose a steep line off of the south shoulder, angling slightly to the south before reaching the huge moraine that sits directly below the peak. The rock was anything but solid, at least for people who are affected by gravity. Otina seemed to skip right over it, while every step I took rocked and rolled, and it sounded like a busy kitchen most of the time. We tried to maintain an intuitive route across the basin, aiming for a section of the Wetterhorn trail that we could see through the boulders. Many of the Wetterhorn summiteers were beginning their descents as well, and we passed Brian, Richard and Brent along the way as they pointed towards Matterhorn. Just as I had hoped, there were groups spread out all along the mountains, instead of piled on top of one another. With so many people in the area, it still didn't feel crowded. As we gained the trail and assumed easier hiking, we ran into various folks on their way down, including but not limited to, Bill and Jodi, Kendra and Lise, Dave and the other Jodi, Jim, Mike, Randall and probably more that I cannot properly remember. Everyone was enjoying a great day on a great peak, and that's what mattered most anyway.

Otina leads the way across the choss...

Looking up at what other people thought would be a good idea...

As we hiked we maintained a close watch over the ridge; at the most intimidating of towers from our vantage, we saw Doug traverse three quarters of the way across, then go back, and assumed that they were stuck at an impossible spot. As it turned out, simple energy deficit was the culprit, and we finally saw all three climbers cross the area, what we would later learn is a shallow ledge which Scott likens to Broadway on Longs Peak. I'm calling it Matterway. Relieved to see the guys moving onto their next obstacle, Otina and I continued along the trail, now passing the low saddle on the Wetterhorn ridge and hiking over the yellow patchy bit that marks the increasing steepness of the mountain, before giving way to the fun stuff, the class three gullies and summit block.

Otina maintains vigil over the ridge runners...

Ready for the fun stuff!

Climbing the first gully was as straight forward as I remembered it, and the second gully also offered no surprise, although I chose not to follow Otina's high traverse across the slanted ledges, and instead climbed more directly along the ridge. Both routes lead to the narrow base of the prow, and onto the familiar area east of the notch that hides one of the most improbable pitches on any Fourteener. The summit block of Wetterhorn is simply fun, with shallow steps leading to wider ledges, and depending on your choice of flavor, either a direct ascent straight onto the summit, or a quick turn of a corner to more easy stair climbing. Tiring rapidly, I chose the standard method of traversing the wide ledge to the west and then climbing to the summit. Cairns mark all of the important bits.

The famous notch that leads to the famous slab that leads to the famous summit pitch!

Walk down, turn right, go up...

Go up, turn left, go sideways, turn right, go up...

Otina finally spotted Darrin below us about twenty minutes later. He was the first of the traversal squad to arrive, climbing straight up the summit block, clearly relieved to finally be free of the ridge. Doug and Scott soon appeared as well; Doug feeling none the worse for wear, and even expressing some sort of sick, twisted delight at what he'd just accomplished. Scott, however, was realizing the aftermath of a liter of Jameson, and seemed to be pretty much done with it all. I was proud of the guy for getting out of the tent that morning, let alone climbing two mountains via the hardest means possible. After some decompression, and much retelling of the Alpine Junk Show that had just been experienced, it was soon remembered that all of the food and beer was down below, and we began our descent. Doug took off ahead of us, saying something about exploring some ridge somewhere. I'd be curious to know what it feels like to have that kind of energy. The rest of us followed the standard route, picking and choosing whatever path looked good at the time, anxious to reach something resembling trail. It had been a long day.

Darrin fearlessly climbs the perilous steps of Wetterhorn!

Doug and Scott not all that far behind...

Exclusive Discovery Channel footage from the upcoming series: Wetterhorn, Beyond the Hangover...

Live, for one night only...

Pocket Meat and The Alpine Junk Show!

The waning light of day deteriorated into shadow, and a congregation began. Craig did a great job of maintaining the fire, allowing us to cook our food and stay warm. People came and went, and I wish I could remember all of the names. The tiring effects of the day soon took over, and many turned to the horizontal relief of their sleeping arrangements, while a few hardy souls remained to further the legend of the Gathering. As it turns out, Sean seems to have a penchant for fire, and we soon had no need for extra layers of clothing. Or pant legs. Much of the incriminating evidence was captured by still camera, and even some on video. Some of it is even safe enough to post on this website. Needless to say, it was a night to remember for those of us in attendance, and a thoroughly fun way to wind down the "climbing season" for the summer of 2010. Now the countdown begins. Where will the next one be? Will there be a next one? Why is there nothing open for breakfast in Lake City in late September? These questions will have to remain unanswered for now...

Is that lighter fluid in your pocket, or...?

Sean makes sure everyone stays warm...

Terry receives instruction from the master...

That seems like a good place to stand...

The North Face needs to work on their durability...

A beautiful Sunday morning...

The Alpine Junk Show, by Darrin
Wetterhorn, by Terry

Comments or Questions
Favorite line
10/01/2010 17:19
Very fun read as always, Keith. Wish I could have been there for this one just to be witness to all the slogging on that ridge and festivities after. When we did Wetterhorn last year, our friend Mic was eyeballing that ridge and saying how much fun it looked to him. I always think he is a bit nuts but that sealed it for me. Now I can show him this...and know he will do it anyway!
This line made me grin:
”The rock was anything but solid, at least for people who are affected by gravity.”

Nice Photos!
10/01/2010 17:31
I really like the shot of Wetterhorn from Matterhorn. What kind of camera? Lense? Polarizer?

Aways a fun time!
10/01/2010 18:40
Thankfully the nude fire walking was nixed...

Camera: Canon S90 with polarizer - That view of Wetterhorn is my favorite and well worth the effort to ascend Matterhorn.

mtgirl rocks!
10/01/2010 19:09
Great line ... kinda reminds me of the past ”Men of Calendar” discussions. Keith, as always, you present to us a wonderfully entertaining trip report resplendent with colorful and insightful one-liners, playful innuendo, partial nudity (okay, that was really just for the shot with the guy with his pants down behind the banner), and eye-catching photography (thank you, too, Otina). Thanks for posting. Happy trails!

incriminating evidence
10/01/2010 19:15
photo #2 clearly answers the unknowns for those of us who met edlins on the Mat-Wet traverse. When we passed him, his face was as green as the beer can he holds in this picture

Thanks again for organizing this, Keith - and for the great TR. It was awesome meeting everybody, and hiking with many of you. Looking forward to the Spring '11 outing!

Chicago Transplant
Good stuff
10/01/2010 23:35
Looks like you all had fun as usual! This year I didn't even bother to pretend I was going to make it, seems I never do anymore.

10/02/2010 09:29
Great report and thanks for the mention----ultra superb group

Thanks Keith
10/02/2010 21:30
Thanks for the invite for a great party/climb
i got all 3 in!

10/03/2010 20:08
Nice report and pics. Really like the first pic as well as several others throughout. Looks like a great area for the gathering and it looks like fun was had by all.

Alpine Junk Show
11/30/2010 17:28
OK, maybe it's my dirty mind.....but when I read "alpine junk show", I thought we might see some pictures of naked dudes. Now there's something that us girls would give a "thumbs up" to !

Good Writeup
11/30/2010 17:28
Finally got my pics online at:

Some etymology:
The term "pocket meat" originated around 2004 with my climbing buddy Nate. While originally consisting of summer sausage and beef jerky, it evolved through other meats such as roast beef and pastrami before landing on the current form of pepperoni and sharp chedder or capicola and havarti. These were typically bagged and carried in a front pocket for convenience. Now, these combinations are laid out on a soft taco flour tortilla, which is folded in half and cut into thirds. This is referred to as the "flat taco". When placed in the top of the pack to harness some solar power, the "flat taco" "sweats" into a "trail quesadilla".

"Alpine Junk Show" started on the traverse as the family unfriendly "sh*t show", cleaned up to "junk show", and then the "alpine" addition made it really jump off the tongue.

Credits to Keith for cleverly combining it all into the name of the 2011 Fall Gathering's fireside drunken jug band, "Pocket Meat and the Alpine Junk show".

Doctor No
Very nice work!
02/05/2011 00:22
Sad that I missed it.

I wonder if my ”meat candy” recipe would work - take little smokies, wrap in bacon, sprinkle with brown sugar, and bake.

I don't know how well they keep - usually they're gone within ten minutes of coming out of the oven.

   Not registered?

Caution: The information contained in this report may not be accurate and should not be the only resource used in preparation for your climb. Failure to have the necessary experience, physical conditioning, supplies or equipment can result in injury or death. and the author(s) of this report provide no warranties, either express or implied, that the information provided is accurate or reliable. By using the information provided, you agree to indemnify and hold harmless and the report author(s) with respect to any claims and demands against them, including any attorney fees and expenses. Please read the Safety and Disclaimer pages for more information.

Please respect private property: supports the rights of private landowners to determine how and by whom their land will be used. In Colorado, it is your responsibility to determine if land is private and to obtain the appropriate permission before entering the property.

© 2022®, 14ers Inc.