Wetterhorn Ski Mission

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, Matterhorn Peak, panorama, sunset
Wetterhorn Sunset Panorama : Prints Available

April sunset behind Wetterhorn Peak (14015 ft / 4272 m), as seen from the summit of Matterhorn Peak in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of Colorado.

Wetterhorn Peak stands above its surrounding basins like an ancient crumbling volcano. Rising to 14,015 feet, the pyramidal fourteener is not only one of the most photogenic mountains in Colorado, but its steep eastern face holds a classic ski descent that I’ve been wanting to snowboard for years. This last weekend I ventured out into the Uncompahgre Wilderness with a friend to hopefully ride and photograph this beautiful mountain.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Matterhorn Peak
Matterhorn Sunset : Prints Available

Sunset over Matterhorn Peak (13,590 ft., 4142 m).

An overnight camp was required due to Wetterhorn’s remoteness when the nearest access roads are still snowed in. We opted to spend two nights out there camped at treeline with this nice view up the Matterhorn Creek basin.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak

Easter Sunday morning, approaching the base of the 1000-foot east face of Wetterhorn Peak.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak

Some spicy hiking up the 50ยบ steep east face of Wetterhorn Peak.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing, Uncompahgre Peak

Don Moden skis down the steep east face of Wetterhorn Peak, with Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 ft.) in the background.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing, Uncompahgre Peak

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing

The adrenaline-inducing east face mellows out to 2,000 feet of cruising below.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, tent
Tent and Tree : Prints Available

Our camp under a big pine tree in the Uncompahgre Wilderness – April.

After our successful morning on Wetterhorn, we relaxed at camp, refueled, and headed up Matterhorn Peak in the afternoon. I spent several hours on the windy summit enjoying the views at sunset, dusk, and finally moonrise. Once the moon was out I down-climbed the summit and snowboarded back down to the tent via moonlight and headlamp. So fun!

Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Uncompahgre Wilderness,Wetterhorn Peak, sunset, panorama
Wetterhorn Sunset Panorama 3 : Prints Available

April sunset behind Wetterhorn Peak (14015 ft / 4272 m), as seen from the summit of Matterhorn Peak in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of Colorado.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, Matterhorn Peak, stars, moonlight
Wetterhorn Stars : Prints Available

Moonlight illuminates Wetterhorn Peak. The three prominent stars above are Sirius, Betelgeuse, and Aldebaran.

We slept-in until the sun hit the tent, then trudged the six miles back out to the truck and devoured beers and burgers in Lake City, stoked to have accomplished our mission!

9 thoughts on “Wetterhorn Ski Mission

  1. What a great peak and killer panoramas from the Matterhorn. My first year in the last 5 not coming to the San Juans, looks like the snow is lacking. But no dust! Hope you and Claudia are well. I will be back out climbing some mountains one of these days, Jack.

    Best;

    Vermont Jake

    1. Hey Jake, yeah so far so good on the dust… (knock on wood). It’s been an unremarkable winter here for sure, I think 69% of average snowpack last I heard. Can’t complain too much though after hearing about the Sierras with 6% average snowpack! Yikes…

  2. Few things. One, the photos of the Wetterhorn and area are once again great (My favorite area in the San Juan Mountains). Two, thanks for the heads up of the great deals at Steep & Cheap on your gear site. Three, trying to get to Matterhorn Creek. Need a shuttle to the area. Do you know of companies in Ouray or Lake City that can get us to the trailhead and pick us back up. Thank You!!! P.S. I know you are a very busy person, but if you have the time and would like to make a little extra money, could you shuttle the wife and I to the trailhead and back (Aug 8-12)? It would be nice to talk to you about photography and the great places to photograph in the San Juan Mountains.

    1. Hi Robert, thanks for your compliment! I do not know of any shuttle companies around Lake City or Ouray, unfortunately. Lake City would be the place to search, since Ouray is actually about a 3-4 hour drive away (we have to drive all the way around the mountains from Ouray). So for this reason I wouldn’t be able to help out. Good luck with the search!

  3. Great shots Jack, looks like you are now getting your winters worth of snow! This month of May I have been checking the cams at telluride and it seems to be snowing every other day! Great for you. Our pacific northwest snowpack below 8000′ is 15% , SAD but above that is 65% so climbing is still good on our volcanoes. Did you take these shots with your sony system or did you just have your ricoh??

    1. Hi Kiim, yeah, it’s been a wet and snowy May again this year here! Should make for a good wildflower summer if it keeps up through June. The landscape shots here were with my Sony A7R and Canon lenses; the skiing shots are with the Ricoh GR.

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