Over Labor day weekend, Jason Friesema, Aaron Sudduth, and I hiked Uncompahgre Peak. Uncompahgre Peak is a spectacular mountian and the tallest in the San Juans. It has the most amazing summit drop off of all the 14ers in Colorado. It's a fairly easy hike from the 4wd trailhead, but very scenic. It tooks us only 1:45 to reach the summit, but we stayed up there for almost an hour.

After leaving I headed back down the Uncompahgre Trail and Jason and Aaron took the trail over to Matterhorn Creek and up Wetterhorn Peak. I then brought the car around to meet them at the Matterhorn trailhead. Easy day for me, big day for them.


Click the map for a full size version.

Elevation Profile:

The trail begins at about 11,500 feet so treeline isn't far away.

Though not visible from the trailhead, it isn't long before the dominating Uncompahgre Peak comes into view.

The trail gently ascents up to the south ridge of Uncompahgre Peak and meets up with the trail coming up from El Paso Creek Basin. (An alternative route for those who can't drive to the end of the Nellie Creek Road.)

After ascending the ridge for a bit Wetterhorn comes into view.

The route up to the summit takes advantage of one weakness in the walls surrounding the summit. If it weren't for this small access this mountain would be a much more technical climb. Just around the corner and out of sight in this photo there is a brief section of scrambling that is the hardest part of the trail. The rest is a very gentle easy path.

The final hundred yards to the summit is pretty flat and littered with wind shelters.

The trail ends very abruptly at the summit with over a thousand foot cliff.

Usually when people talk about a cliff the slope is actually in the 60-70 degree range. This one however is pretty close to 90 Degrees.

I'm not exaggerating the height either. Jason laid down and looked over the edge while I held the camera out for a picture from above his head. He spit too, we lost sight of it after 15 seconds or so and never saw it hit the bottom.

The castles to the North of Uncompahgre are quite impressive.

We also noticed a very rusty stream over by Wetterhorn.

We spent nearly an hour up there marveling at the views, then Jason and Aaron took off on their way over to Wetterhorn.

They descended the gulley just below the switchbacks

It's a little loose but very passable.

I was able to help direct a little from up above on the ridge.

The cliffs of Uncompahgre look amazing from this view.

Looking back at Uncompahgre from halfway to Wetterhorn.

Meanwhile I took my time and got some nice pictures on my way out.

Though I never quite got to where I could see the north face of Uncompahgre, it looks like it would be an amazing climb on solid rock.

There are some nice waterfalls along the trail and even some snow was left.

CFI was up there doing a little trail work. Thanks again CFI, looks great!

I stopped along the road on the drive out of Nellie Creek to get a shot of the falls.

Then over at Matterhorn trailhead I killed some time taking photos while waiting for Jason and Aaron to come down off of Wetterhorn.

Matterhorn creek appears to have a high iron content.

The wildflowers were still great up there even this late in the year.

At 2:45 Aaron and Jason made the Matterhorn trailhead. They had hiked 12 miles and over 4,500 vertical feet. Not a bad day.

You are welcome to contact me with any questions regarding questions about, or problems with, this website. Just send me an e-mail at josh_friesema@hotmail.com.