Uncompahgre & Wetterhorn
Remote & Inspiring CO 14’ers
High and remote Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn stand alone ;14,000 foot sentinels of the Northern San Juan’s. Having this stature and location in common, the two peaks harbor very different characters in their climbing routes. Uncompahgre offers a beautiful class 2+ alpine trail hike to an exposed summit. Resembling it’s Swiss namesake, Wetterhorn sports two classic alpine routes to it’s tiny peak. The mountaineer will delight in Wetterhorn’s seldom climbed steep and snowy north face followed by a wildly exposed half pitch to the rewarding summit. Wetterhorn’s standard route is no give-away with a long scrambling ridge finishing with the same final pitch to the summit as the north face route.
The mountains are most easily approached from the south via the engineer pass jeep road, an adventure in itself. Our three day program takes us into the remote northern san juan’s and up two of colorado’s remote 14’ers. If time and energy allow it is also possible to bag the “matterhorn” a mini version of its swiss big brother. In all, the tour through these high alpine basin’s to summits of two legendary peaks is a great option for parties of mixed abilities and those just seeking solitude and beauty in our country’s greatest mountain range.
Probably the best hiking/climbing trip I’ve every been on…..and I’ve been on a lot of them! The combination of being out in the middle of one of the most beautiful wilderness areas in the world, mixed with the awesome hiking and fantastic technical climbing was truly magical! – Doug L. Jagged Mountain, 2017
Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre Trip Itinerary
Arrive to Ouray mid-afternoon. We will meet in the evening to do a gear check and ensure that you’re packed and ready for the trip. Stay in a hotel.
Meet at the San Juan Mountain guides office at 8:00 am to begin a jeep ride over engineer pass to the Matterhorn creek trailhead. Arrive at the trailhead for our short hike to camp at timberline.
Up early to climb Wetterhorn followed by Uncompahgre if weather and energy permits. We should be back in camp relaxing by the early afternoon.
Climb Uncompahgre if we missed it the day before, climb the “Matterhorn” if we are interested, or hike out and jeep trail back to Ouray for an early dinner. Stay in a hotel or depart.
The majority of the time spent on the Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre trip takes place at or above 10,000 ‘ in elevation. If you live at sea level, it may be best to arrive in Ouray a day earlier than the scheduled “Day 0” to allow for an easier adjustment to the altitude and thus a greater chance for success on the climbs.
Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre Equipment List
- Backpack: Internal frame, . Guides’ pick: Osprey Variant 52
- Sleeping bag: Down or synthetic bag rated between 15-30 degrees with compression stuff sack. Guides’ pick: Neutrino Endurance 400
- Sleeping pad: Guides’ pick: Thermarest NeoAir
- Bowl, spoon, cup: Plastic/lexan
- Pocket knife: 2-3 inch blade, simple, light
- Small thermos: Optional, but nice to have
- Water bottles: 2 liters combined capacity; bottles or bladder. Guides’ pick: Nalgene or Osprey
- Water purification system: We recommend simple iodine tablets, but pumps are acceptable. Guides’ pick: Potable Aqua
Clothing and Personal Equipment
- Hiking/Alpine boots: Sturdy, waterproof, comfortable boots. Please contact us with questions or further recommendations.
- Socks: 2-3 pair of medium weight wool or synthetic blend socks.
- Base layers: Synthetic t-shirt and synthetic underwear
- Soft shell pants: warm enough for cool mornings and nights, yet light enough for warm days. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Soft shell jacket: light weight. Guides’ pick: OR Ferrosi
- Insulated vest: down or synthetic. Guides’ pick: OR Transcendent
- Hard shell jacket: waterproof and breathable, no insulation. Guides’ Pick: OR Helium
- Hats: one with brim, one for warmth
- Sunscreen and lip balm: water/sweat-proof
- Headlamp: with extra batteries. Guides’ pick: Black Diamond Spot
- Toiletries: Toilet paper, baggie for used TP, toothbrush/paste, wet wipes, hand sanitizer, etc.
- Personal first-aid kit: for your personal meds/needs; guide will have a large one as well
- Stuff sacks: for convenient packing
- Lunch food: Everything you eat between breakfast and dinner. May include: bagels, dried meats, cheese, trail mix, candy bars, peanut butter, etc…
- Harness: Adjustable leg loops are essential.
- Locking carabiner: Pear shaped, wide mouth.
- Boots: Hiking boots, or alpine boots – many options. No tennis shoes.
- Crampons: General mountaineering crampons (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
- Mountaineering Axe: 60 – 70 cm mountain axe (for May/June trips only – conditions dependent)
Training & Follow Up Climbs
As always, being in excellent physical shape is an important component of our our programs. A good mixture of cardiovascular fitness, muscular fitness, and especially core strength will help you to maximize the potential rewards that are possible on a great climbing trip.
1Before Your Trip
The Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre trip is a strenuous trip conducted at altitudes above 10,000 feet. Therefore, previous experience hiking in the mountains and/or multi-day backpacking experience will be very helpful to you on this program. Though the actual climbing level required for this trip is not difficult, the best training regimen would include a mixture of cardiovascular fitness training (running, biking, hiking etc.), and muscular/core fitness exercises. The addition of some Yoga/stretching exercises will help to insure that you maintain good muscular flexibility as well.
For the Wetterhorn & Uncompahgre Trip you should be ready for:
- Hiking approximately 8-9 miles per day with up to a 40 lb pack at altitudes between 8,000′ – 13,000 ‘
- 9-12 hour summit day with a lighter “day pack”
- Climbing difficulty up to low 5th class in alpine boots
- Wilderness living
- A long drive from Ouray!
2Follow Up Climbs
I found this to be a great experience and enjoyed all of the personnel and guides associated with San Juan – particularly Matt Pickren! – Steve K. 2011 Private Program
Ouray, Colorado: Getting Here
Ouray is located in the SW corner of Colorado, approximately 30 minutes south of Montrose. Known as “The Switzerland of America”, the town of Ouray is a vibrant outdoor oriented community. All local businesses are very friendly to the ice climbers who flock each winter to climb in the Ouray Ice Park and surrounding areas.
Flights: The best option for flying to the area is to fly into Montrose, CO. Many airline options exist, and most connections originate from Denver, CO. It is also possible to fly into Durango, CO, Telluride, CO, or Albuquerque, NM. It may be necessary to rent a car and drive to Ouray if you’d like to fly into one of either of these airports.
Driving: Below are some approximate driving times if you’d like to drive to Ouray. If you plan on renting a car, please consider the winter weather when selecting your vehicle and at a minimum choose something that offers either front wheel or all-wheel drive.
- Montrose, CO: 45 mins
- Durango, CO: 2 hours
- Denver, CO: 6 hours
- Albuquerque, NM: 4.5 hours
- Salt Lake City, UT: 6 hours
Hotels: Ouray has a number of great hotels, suites, and vacation rentals for you to stay in while you’re in the area. Give our office a call at 800-642-5389 if you have any questions about what would suit you best for this trip!
- Cost Includes:
- Guiding and trip leadership
- Breakfasts and dinners on the mountain
- Group camping and cooking equipment (tents, stoves, etc.)
- Group climbing equipment (ropes, etc.)
- Harness, helmet
- Transportation to the TH & back
- Not Included:
- Transportation to Ouray, CO
- Hotel costs before or after the courses
- Personal Lunch Food
- 5% land use surcharge
- Trip cancellation insurance – recommended
- Personal backpacking climbing clothing
- Costs associated with early returns, weather delays, or other factors beyond our control
- Guide gratuity
- Registration and Cancellation:
- Advance Registration is required for this program. You have the option to either call our office and register via phone, fill out our pdf Registration Form and send it in via fax or email, or utilize our secure Online Reservation System. All participants must read and sign an Assumption of Risks/Liability Waiver and agree to our Reservations and Cancellations Policies.
It was fantastic. The trip was well organized. It was a real pleasure meeting Gary. He is a great guide and extremely proficient and cool. Really enjoyed climbing with him. Overall, an A+ trip. Thanks again for organizing such a nice trip. – Vahid B. Private Alpine 2010