Trip Reports: Wetterhorn Ski Mission, San Juans, Colorado - April 2015

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.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Matterhorn Peak, photo

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.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, photo

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

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, photo

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

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing, Uncompahgre Peak, photo

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

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing, Uncompahgre Peak, photo

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

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, skiing, photo

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

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, tent, photo

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.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, Matterhorn Peak, panorama, sunset, photo

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.

Colorado,San Juan Mountains,Uncompahgre Wilderness,Wetterhorn Peak, sunset, panorama, photo

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.

Colorado, San Juan Mountains, Uncompahgre Wilderness, Wetterhorn Peak, Matterhorn Peak, stars, moonlight, photo

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!