Playing sidekick to a CO 14er Ski Finisher on Wetterhorn Peak - 05/17/09

Playing sidekick to a CO 14er Ski Finisher on Wetterhorn Peak - 05/17/09

Page Type Page Type: Trip Report
Date Date Climbed/Hiked: May 17, 2009
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling, Skiing
Seasons Season: Spring


Plowing through fine swaths of mashers on San Luis the previous day provided just the warm-up we needed for Joe’s ‘ski-the-14ers finisher’ trip on Wetterhorn… see Joe’s report at The post-hike meal at Creede resurrected us to some extent and we rode to the Wetterhorn trailhead. We managed to not get stopped by cops every 5th minute, but we did blow holes in two tires… you can’t win everything meow can you? We got to the trailhead at ~11PM. There were a few other cars there. We packed for the next day and set the alarm for 4AM. 4 hours of sleep… just the ticket. (Mumble, grumble… I am turning into a negative old geezer lately). I collapsed into the front seat of the truck and fell asleep during the third of these four hours, to be greeted by the strident refrain of “Moonlight Haze” on my cell-phone no more than an hour later. I woke, fussed, cussed, yawned, swatted floaters, inspected my feet, blew warm air into my cupped palms… 6 times, devoted a few minutes to scratching my buttocks and bumbled out into the crisp mountain air and unceremoniously roused the slumberous couple in the truck bed. Whilst waiting for them to replicate my acts from the previous line I enjoyed some cardboard left over from the previous night. I could’ve sworn it was a pork barbacoa burrito no more than 8 hours ago. I also inhaled a worm and the home he had made of an apple I had procured 6 weeks earlier… mmm, protein.

The Trail

The trail was pretty straight forward on the way up. We left the truck a little after 5PM and made good time up the trail. It was dry except for several mounds of snow in shaded aspects that (thankfully) stayed frozen. I filled most of my day’s supply of water at a stream close to the basin. At the basin we broke for breakfast as another couple approached us. They were attempting the same route we were… We began skinning here.

004The basin

007Skinning to the East Face

011Skinning to Wetterhorn Peak

The Climb

We soon approached the East Face. The snow in the basin had stayed nice and frozen up until this point.

014Approaching the base of the East Face

015Debbie skins to the base of the East Face

Wet slide debris littered the base of the face. The other couple gave the slide a wide berth and climbed the left edge of the face. Debbie left her skis at the base, Joe was obviously going all the way with his and I would carry them to the rock band in the middle of the face. The snow was getting soft and sticky.

016The East Face

I stopped at the pre-determined rock band and dropped my skis and a layer. Joe in the interim was plowing trail through the mush like it was his job.

022Climbing the Face

We topped out on the face and re-hydrated.

023Top of the Face

Some fine 3rd class ski boot scrambling remained… not very much, unfortunately. There were a few icy spots…

027Scrambling up the Summit Pitch

030Scrambling up The Summit Pitch

Summit and Descent

The summit was reached. Debbie and I stood back to allow doumall to hog the summit by himself for a few seconds.

032Sprinting to the Finish Line

Uncompahgre called to us from across the valley. He looked fairly lonely.


More cool shots off the summit of Wetterhorn...

040Wetterhorn Summit 1

041Wetterhorn Summit 2

The day was in stark contrast to the last time I was up here in 2007. Today felt like a day out in the Thar Desert. The other couple joined us on summit a few minutes later and snagged a group shot for us…

044Wetterhorn Summit 3

Joe took off the summit of Wetterhorn in typically inimitable style.

Ski off SummitSki off the Summit (c) Deborah Baker

… And accumulated style points down the face…

FaceSkiSkiing the Face (c) Deborah Baker

Debbie and I plunge-stepped down to the first rock band where I picked up my skis and prepared for the worst… a veil of modesty is cast over my (to put it mildly) less than immaculate turns… however I stood here…

058Standing and Watching (c) Joe Brannan

… And watched Joe do more of this…

059Skiing the Face

We were back down in the basin for lunch…

LunchLunch (c) Joe Brannan

At this moment on the 17th of May ’09, Joe became the 6th person to ski all of Colorado’s 14ers. That an “Easterner” should achieve so much so young so fast is understandably shocking!!! Joe, thanks for the invite to tag along. Some fine mud turns and sub-tree line post-holing took us back to the truck with plenty of daylight left for celebration.


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seth@LOKI - May 29, 2009 3:32 pm - Voted 10/10

nice work.

congrats to you and Joe.

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