This was one of those rare days when for whatever reason, I wasn't feeling too ambitious. But I still wanted to get a peak, and I wanted some pics from the summit of Matterhorn.
One thing I've noticed is that Matterhorn is seldom climbed on its own merits. It's usually done in a combination. So for just this once, I figured to give this striking peak it's own trip report. (That's code for me being too lazy to get Wetterhorn in the same day). Anyway...
Matterhorn comes into view pretty quickly as you head up the Matterhorn Creek trail. Like most peaks in the San Juans, photos don't do it justice.
Approaching Matterhorn Peak
You have your choice to go right or left when the trail splits. Left goes to Wetterhorn, right goes toward Matterhorn's upper slopes or to Uncompahgre. After some decent trail hiking, you have to make the convicting choice of going off trail and up the grassy south slopes. Photos make the slopes look pretty gentle, but they're steeper than they appear. Memories of Mount Belford and Mount Yale come to mind, in terms of steepness.
Going up the grassy slope toward the summit.
The hiking portion ended once we reached the rocky summit pitch. I was hoping for the solid rock that is known to be on Wetterhorn's Class 3 pitch, but that's not the case here. Lots of boulders and some loose rocks. Once you get to the summit pitch, you can take an easier route to the top to the right (you'll see what looks like a steep dirt and rock "path" leading up) or just go straight up a steeper but more fun pitch. We chose the latter. Both are considered Class 3.
Looking up the class 3 summit pitch.
I found a fun-looking gully further left that was a little steeper and more exposed. Bad footholds and handholds made me decide to back out of that and continue up the route I'd initially chosen. One loose rock away from quite a tumble. Forget that.
Looking down an exposed section.
It's just a couple of minutes or less and you're at the summit. It's an enjoyable but short scramble; for some, it might be a nice way to break into Class 3 stuff. The ridgeline view of Wetterhorn is particularly impressive.
Summit view of Wetterhorn.
So were the views of Coxcomb, Redcliff and a whole bunch of other nearby mountains.
Coxcomb, Redcliff peaks. Gorgeous.
Yes, I did a silly summit shot. No, you can't see it because my friend Johnny hasn't posted any of his pics yet. But here's one of him:
Johnny does a victory pose. He tagged Wetterhorn in August.
Eventually, we made our way down. It was the day after most of the 14ers.com Fall Gathering crew had left. There were still a few people on Wetterhorn, but no one on Matterhorn. Yep, climbing 13ers has its perks. The weather was amazingly calm, the skies clear and temps in the 60s with light winds. I haven't had weather this nice since my first Shavano ascent in '04. Add in the fall colors and it was a feast for the eyes.
Beautiful aspen stand as seen on the way down.
2010 was a really light year for me in terms of hiking and climbing, esp in Colorado. But I'm glad I tagged this one. For some weird reason, I've wanted to climb Matterhorn, and now it's been done. Is it worth doing on its own? I think so. I'll just leave it at this: With Matterhorn, you get a gorgeous hike, some fun at the summit, amazing views and solitude. Does that that sounds like a good mountain experience? Does to me.
Now I did write up something a little more "literary" about this trip. You can check the link here.