Dave Bourassa, Jon Turner
Route Description: East Face via Matterhorn Creek
Data: Began at 4:20 am from 2x2 parking for Matterhorn Creek at 10,370’. Reached summit (14.015’) at 8:10 am. Downclimbed the usual route from the summit to the notch to the East Face. Began skiing the East face around 9:10 am. Reached bottom of face and then headed over to Matterhorn. Began hiking from about 12,400’ at 9:30 am. Reached summit of Matterhorn (13,590’) around 11 am. Skied back down valley. Skied to just above the 4x4 parking and took off skis around 10,700’. Walked the rest of the way. Reached the car at 12:40. Total vert climbed: 3645’ + 1120’. Total vert skied: 1600’ + 2900’. Total time: 8 hrs 20 min.
Relevant Links: TGR Trip Report
Originally, we were hoping to ski the S. Couloir on S. Maroon. But a change in weather and finding out some beta about Gothic road made us change our plans at the last minute. Wetterhorn was my back up option. Dave and I had been wanting to ski together all season, but things hadn't worked out. Finally, they did. I was so happy to have him join me on this San Juans adventure.
I also knew that Jon Turner and his friend Keith would be heading that way. They were setting up a base camp near treeline the night before and we had tentative plans to meet them on the trail in the morning.
Wetterhorn is a prominent fourteener in the San Juan area. However, when driving near Lake City and Montrose, the mountain remains hidden behind other peaks, mainly Uncompahgre. This is largely why the peak was not ascended until 1906. Barnard, Utter, C. Smedley, and W.P. Smedley were on their way to hike Uncompahgre and saw Wetterhorn on the way. They didn't know of another 14,000 peak in the area, but they decided to climb it anyway, basically because it looked cool ;)
We didn't leave the Denver area until after 6 pm. So, it was about 11:30 when we pulled into the Matterhorn Creek TH. The roads were clear to the 2x2 parking. But, the road had intermittent snow and dirt starting at the beginning of the 4x4 parking. We camped at a nice spot near the 2x2 parking for a 3:30 wake up call. It was a short night!
We began hiking at 4:25 am from the 2x2 parking at 10,370'. We had a swift pace, and made it to treeline less than an hour later.
Shortly after, we spotted Jon and Keith. And we began to see a fantastic view of Wetterhorn's face.
We followed the standard route to the summit on the southeast ridge.
Jon Turner with the summit behind.
Dave reached the summit before us.
His view of us from the summit.
We dropped our packs at the top of the notch which lead to the last couple hundred feet of climbing. This pitch is a rather fun scramble to reach the summit! Generally, this pitch doesn't get skied as it very rarely has snow.
We reached the summit (14,015')at 8:10, less than 4 hours after we started. Summit shots.
It was a nice, clear day on the summit, with virtually now wind- a fantastic change from my last two fourteener ascents!
Uncompahgre in the back with Matterhorn in front.
Looking down the valley. We began our day at the bottom of the valley going from left to right in the picture.
Like last week, the San Juans were still a sea of snow.
Sneffels in the distance.
We downclimbed from the summit to the notch.
We reached the notch around 8:30 and the snow was still quite firm. We decided to wait for a little while until the snow softened, and didn't start skiing until 9:10 am. The snow was still a tad firm up top, but it was still enjoyable.
Unfortunately, Keith was not feeling well that day, and opted not to join us on the ski. He headed back to camp.
When we reached the bottom of the face it was only 9:30 am. We looked at eachother and we were like, "So, it's only 9:30. Now what?" So, we headed on over to Matterhorn for another lap. Matterhorn is a 13,590' peak between Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn.
View of Matterhorn from lower in the valley.
The climb up Matterhorn was also pretty fun.
On the summit of Matterhorn.
Wetterhorn looks even more impressive from Matterhorn.
Now for ski run #2! :)
We skied our way down the northeast face of Matterhorn and then circled around to the south. We followed the basin out, and headed back to the trailhead. We were back at camp by 12:40, making it a 2-peak day in less than 7.5 hours :) I'd say we got a good bang for our buck that day.
Thanks again Dave and Jon for joining me! It was a fantastic day!
Photos contributed by Jon Turner and Dave Bourassa.