Wetterhorn Ski Mission

April 2015  |  San Juan Mountains, 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.

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

Matterhorn Sunset

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Camped under a big pine tree in the Uncompahgre Wilderness - April.

Camped 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.

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

Wetterhorn Sunset Panorama

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

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

Wetterhorn Sunset Panorama 3

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

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

Stars Over Wetterhorn

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

Once the moon was out I down-climbed the summit of Matterhorn Peak and snowboarded back down to the tent via moonlight and headlamp. So fun!

The next morning 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!