Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre
ElevationAscent: 5,569' 1,697 m
Descent: -5,567' -1,697 m
High: 14,249' 4,343 m
Low: 11,076' 3,376 m
GradeAvg Grade: 13% (7°)
Max Grade: 80% (39°)
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“An epic linkup between two of the San Juan's most scenic 14ers.”— Tyler Prince
While the land manager requests dogs be leashed, they probably don't intend for Fido to be scrambling about the rocks near the summit of Wetterhorn Peak. Few dogs can cover this quasi-technical terrain. Most can manage the easier Uncompahgre Peak, though.
While Wetterhorn Peak is an easy scramble with mostly solid rock, many runners will bring along a helmet for the final couple hundred feet. If solo it's probably not a true necessity, but those traveling in larger groups should be equipped for rockfall and plan on wearing one. Uncompahgre Peak does not require a helmet. As always, bring sun protection and plenty of food and water.
Faster hikers should expect around 10 hrs RT; average hikers closer to 12-16 hrs. As such, expect a long day, and be wary of weather changes. If you hit rain on Uncompahgre Peak it's a long way back to the car.
While Matterhorn Creek doesn't have a bathroom or any amenities, it is a proper TH, well signed and with a fair amount of parking. A small field next to the dirt lot provides room for around 5-6 tents.
From the trailhead, summit Wetterhorn Peak (see link).
From the summit, head back down to the Matterhorn Creek trailhead, or head back to the junction with Ridge Stock Driveway to run Uncompahgre Peak as well. Some runners may opt to cut across the basin off of Wetterhorn Peak Trail to link up with Ridge Stock Driveway instead of going all the way back down to the junction. Depending on USFS signage and wildlife protection, this may not be an option. If the area is open, it shaves off around 0.75 miles and 300-400 ft of gain. Run across a field, crossing some streams before coming to Ridge Stock Driveway.
If heading back to the trail junction, turn left for Uncompahgre Peak following signs for Ridge Stock Driveway. Run along a stream on clear trail, mostly singletrack but in some parts a rocky dirt road. The going here is flat and the views are excellent. Passing through alpine tundra, continue N/NE for about a mile. Uncompahgre will be clearly visible, as will the trail. Angle to the right, hop streams for about 2 more miles on flat to slightly downhill terrain. It's frustrating losing elevation here, especially while Uncompahgre is just to your left. There are gullies you can scramble up, but these are composed of loose, steep, dangerous talus. While they may save you elevation gain, they are unlikely to save you time or energy. Sticking to the trail is recommended.
A little over 8 miles into your run, you'll finally turn off the Ridge Stock Driveway, angling left up a switchback and reaching the clear Uncompahgre Peak Trail.
Summit Uncompahgre Peak (see link).
Congratulations on a hell of a day. This is one of the more impressive 14er doubles commonly done. The area still has plenty to offer: nearby 13er Matterhorn Peak lies between Wetterhorn and Uncompahgre and adds about 2 miles and 1,500 ft of elevation. Those trying to summit all the 14ers may want to check out Handies, Redcloud, and Sunshine while near Lake City.
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Mar 25, 2020: GMUG Offers Virtual Services in Response to COVID-19
Mar 19, 2020: Gunnison Ranger District Office To Close