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 http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5930&start=50&cpgm=tripmain. 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 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.
Skinning to the East Face
Skinning to Wetterhorn Peak
We soon approached the East Face. The snow in the basin had stayed nice and frozen up until this point.
Approaching the base of the East Face
Debbie 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.
The 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.
Climbing the Face
We topped out on the face and re-hydrated.
Top of the Face
Some fine 3rd class ski boot scrambling remained… not very much, unfortunately. There were a few icy spots…
Scrambling up the Summit Pitch
Scrambling 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.
Sprinting to the Finish Line
Uncompahgre called to us from across the valley. He looked fairly lonely.
More cool shots off the summit of Wetterhorn...
Wetterhorn Summit 1
Wetterhorn 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…
Wetterhorn Summit 3
Joe took off the summit of Wetterhorn in typically inimitable style.
Ski off the Summit (c) Deborah Baker
… And accumulated style points down the face…
Skiing 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…
Standing and Watching (c) Joe Brannan
… And watched Joe do more of this…
Skiing the Face
We were back down in the basin for lunch…
Lunch (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.