On Wetterhorn Summit

On Sunday I hiked into Wetterhorn Basin, in the Uncompahgre Wilderness east of Ridgway, Colorado. With all the stormy monsoon weather and fantastic sunsets we’ve been having in the San Juans lately, I had hopes of catching another great sunset in the mountains. I arrived in Wetterhorn Basin just in time to hunker down in the forest as the lightning and thunder rolled through. After an hour or so the storm cleared just as the sun began to dip into a gap on the horizon, lighting up the mountains with spectacular alpenglow!

That night I woke up at 1:40am, and under the full moonlight I climbed up Wetterhorn Peak, the rugged 14,015 ft. mountain that dominates the scene. I’d climbed up the peak once before four years ago, so I kind of remembered how to climb the scrambly exposed route to the summit in the dark. I relaxed up there by myself for four hours, enjoying the sunrise, soaking up the views, and looking at all the other places I’ve hiked around there and would like to hike in the future.

After downclimbing the peak later that morning and strolling back to my campsite, I relaxed for the rest of the day, waiting for the afternoon storm which never seemed to materialize. That night, however, the sky finally unleashed and dumped rain for hours, with lightning and cracking thunder trying to keep me awake. But I was pretty exhausted after my hike that morning, so I managed to sleep like a baby through the storm. The next morning I had a leisurely hike out amongst the wildflowers, wrapping up another nice trip in the wilderness.


POSTSCRIPT: When I was on the summit of Wetterhorn, in the early dawn darkness, I could see another headlamp on the high ridgeline to the north. I just KNEW that it must be Jody Grigg, a fellow Colorado photographer, because A) I had seen his name on the trailhead register, B) only a photographer would be on that remote ridgeline for the sunrise, and C) Jody’s one of the few photographers I know who would actually make it up there! Sure enough, a few days after this trip, I got this photo from Jody in my email:


6 thoughts on “Wetterhorny

  1. Jack,

    #2 is STUNNING! Wetterhorn is one of my favorite 14ers…I love that scramble to the summit block. About a month ago, I got a GF1, right in time for my vacation in Lake City. I’ve really been enjoying it, but there is a lot for me to learn still.

  2. Who jack, you dawg! These are stunning – the warm, juicy, dripping with honey storm light is so sweet. And Wetterhorn for breakfast… Are you freaking kidding me???

  3. Hello Jack.

    Now this is the reason why I follow your work…your photographs are stunning and inspiring and shows your photograpic mastery.
    Really enjoyed taking in your photographs, Jack!
    I recently had a night climb myself, though not as high as these subjects, and was happy to see that I am not the only one situated on a peak on a full moon night 😉

    With you on the summit (last photo), that summit looks so fierce!
    It was nice with some fresh air, right? 😉

    Best Wishes
    Seung Kye

  4. Wow! That last photo of you on the summit is a treasure! I loved all the shots and your blog of the whole adventure. I thought you were the only person crazy enough and strong enough to climb the peaks at night, now I know there are two.

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