August 29, 2002
Getting a late start leaving Boulder it was a long drive down to Lake City. We probably didn't make too many friends pulling into the trailhead at 1 a.m. but such is life. It was a cold night and I was glad I that would be sleeping in the back of my surburban. The rest of the gang set up their tents and it was time to hit the sack.
August 30, 2002
Getting some much needed rest we got up around 7 a.m. and had some breakfast. We started hiking at about 9 a.m. and the trail heads gently up the forest. We quickly came to a meadow which gaves us our first views of Wetterhorn Peak which is on the left in the photo below.
After hiking for another .5 hour we broke out of the trees and came into the huge basin between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre Peak. The route in red shows our path through the basin heading west towards Wetterhorn's east ridge.
We gained the saddle at 13,060 feet and Wetterhorn's east ridge looks impressive from this viewpoint. Roach's book notes that the ridge is easier than it appears from here which it is true. The photo below shows the east ridge from the saddle.
The trail ends midway up the ridge and the scrambling begins. Most of the ridge remains class 2 with the occasional class 3 section. The photo below shows the beginning of the scrambling. The route in red shows the path to pass some rock towers between 13,400 and 13,700 feet.
The route remained well cairned and we stayed mainly on the west side of the ridge almost until the top. There were other parties following different paths but all of the routes were easy scrambling and lead to the same spot.
Right before the final summit cliff we reached the Ship's Prow which is a cool looking rock tower. We passed through a notch on the right side of the Ship's Prow to gain access to the back side of the summit cliff. The route's crux finally comes into view which is the 150 feet of class 3 climbing shown in the photo below.
Waiting for some parties to descend the gully we began our ascent once they passed. The climbing is super easy and there are good hand and footholds everywhere. At the top of the gully is the summit and Uncompahgre's massive size is quite a sight. The photo below was taken from the top of the gully showing Brian climbing up the crux.
Brian and I arrived a little ahead of Matt and Stephanie so we sat down and ate our lunch, taking in the views of the San Juans. Matt and Stephanie arrived on the summit around 11:30 a.m. making the hiking time to the summit about 2.5 hours. Below is the view from Wetterhorn's summit looking east at Uncompaghre Peak.
Brian and I hadn't climbed Uncompahgre yet so we decided to depart from the summit and get on our way. The photo below shows the route across the basin over to Uncompahgre's east slopes.
We descended the crux and the east ridge without trouble and quickly crossed the basin between the two peaks. We were making really good time since the weather didn't look like it was going to hold out for long. After crossing a flat section we climbed around the prominent rock tower on the right side and gained Uncompahgre's east slopes. It was 3 p.m. and the weather was moving in quick. Sitting down to do some math we weighed our options. We were still had to drive over to Telluride and then backpack up into the Navajo Basin to set up camp to climb Mt. Wilson and El Diente. Not wanting to backpack at midnight and with the weather looming we decided just to descend down to the Nellie Creek Trailhead where Matt and Stephanie would be picking us up. The photo below marks the point on Uncompahgre's east side where we decided to turn around.
It was a very short hike down to the trailhead, Uncompahgre would be a very easy hike from the 4wd parking lot. Matt and Stephanie hadn't arrived yet, turns out they descended Wetterhorn really slowly since both of them were nursing bad knees.
They showed up after about 10 minutes and it was off for our next adventure, getting the big blue bus(surburban) over Engineer's Pass. The road remained relatively easy up to the pass and part way up we passed the cabin in the photo below that was built in honor of Henry David Thoreau.
We proceeded onward and upward and finally reached the top of the pass at 12,800 feet, a new height record for the big blue boat.
The descent off the pass was a little more exciting with some tight switchbacks and some more exposure. We made it into Silverton around 7 p.m. and decided to grab some dinner. Silverton was a ghost town compared to last time we were there for the Chicago Basin trip. I guess the town is nearly vacant once the final train departs for the day. After dinner we departed and arrived at the Silverpick Basin Trailhead at 10:30 p.m. Everybody set up their tents and I climbed into the back of the surburban to hit the sack. We would be up early again to tackle Wilson Peak, but that's another website.