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Wetterhorn Peak
standard Southeast Ridge
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Difficulty:
 Class 3 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: Considerable  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Matterhorn Creek
Start:10,800 feet
Summit:14,015 feet
Total Gain:3,300 feet
RT Length:7.00 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:3/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:150 reports
Cell Signal:14 reports
Sheriff:Hinsdale: 970-944-2291
Forest:Uncompahgre
Wilderness:Uncompahgre
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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Trailhead

From Lake City, turn west onto Second street. Drive 0.1 mile and turn left onto Henson Creek Road (Alpine Loop Scenic Byway) and begin measuring mileage from here. Near 5 miles, pass the Nellie Creek trailhead sign. Near 9 miles, turn right onto the North Henson Road which is more rough than the Henson Creek road but can still be driven by most good-clearance vehicles. Near 11 miles, there is another junction with a sign indicating the Matterhorn Creek trailhead is ahead. Park here if you don't have a 4WD vehicle or turn right and continue 0.7 mile to the trailhead and parking area.

Route

From the upper trailhead ( 1), follow the trail north for nearly 0.75 mile to reach a trail junction, near 11,200'. Turn right and switchback up a hillside before continuing north - 2. Follow the trail along the hillside and exit the trees at 11,600'. Stay on the main trail ( 3) before turning left onto the Wetterhorn trail, near 12,000' - 4. Hike north to reach rocky terrain, east of Wetterhorn - 5. Zig zag over 1/2 mile through the rocks - 6. After the trail exists the rocks, continue southwest to a saddle on Wetterhorn's southeast ridge - 7 and 8.

From the 13,100-foot saddle, turn right and start up the ridge - 9. Continue up yellow-colored dirt to reach the upper ridge and more difficult terrain - 10. Follow a small, broken trail that weaves up through the rocks on the left side of the ridge. You will soon be able to see the next 400' of rocky terrain which leads up to the "Prow," a fin-like tower just below the summit - 11. The route gradually climbs towards the Prow by staying below the ridge crest and you'll encounter a few sections which require some brief scrambling. One area in particular is a rock rib which blocks easy passage - 12. Once you reach the rib, bypass it by turning right and climbing a small gully back toward the ridge crest - 13. At the top of the gully ( 14), you have a couple of options:

1) Locate a "V" notch on the left that allows passage through the rib. Drop down the other side of the notch and continue toward the ridge crest, just right of the Prow - 15, 16 and 17.
2) Or climb up through the rocks show in 13 and 14 to reach the crest of the ridge. Once on the ridge, turn left and continue toward the Prow.

Near 13,800', walk past the right side of the Prow to reach an open area below the summit block - 18. You'll see two notches between the Prow and the summit - 19. Climb through the higher notch ( 20), over an angled slab and turn right to see the final, Class 3 pitch and crux of the route - 21. You may encounter a few loose rocks and rubble on the small ledges but the line is mostly stable - 22 and 23. Just below the summit you'll reach a ledge/catwalk - 24. Climb directly up ( 25) from the catwalk or swing around to the left a few feet to find slightly easier climbing. Gain the summit and enjoy the views - 26 and 27.

Notes

The last 0.6 miles to the trailhead requires 4WD. IMPORTANT: This route enters the Uncompahgre Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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