Matterhorn Peak as seen from the southeast. The Matterhorn (Monte Cervino).
Ask somebody if they've heard of a peak named "Matterhorn", and 99% of the time the response will be "Of course!". However, just about 100% of the time that person will be thinking of the well-known 14,692-foot mountain on the border between Switzerland and Italy. Most people are unaware of the thirteener with the same name in the San Juan range of Colorado.
In reality, there is little resemblance between the Colorado Matterhorn Peak and the European Matterhorn, both in appearance and facts.
|Item||Matterhorn Peak of Colorado||The Matterhorn (Monte Cervino) of Europe|
|Location||San Juan range in Colorado||Pennine Alps on the border between Switzerland and Italy|
|Elevation||13,590 ft||14,692 ft|
|Deaths during first ascent||Likely zero||4|
|Average annual deaths||0||12|
|Total deaths||Likely zero||Over 500|
The German name Matterhorn is from the words "matte" meaning "meadow" and "horn" meaning "peak". This description actually fits Colorado's Matterhorn Peak quite well, as the south slopes of Matterhorn Peak are covered in a coating of green grass which gives the appearance of a meadow leading almost entirely to the summit.
Matterhorn Peak stands in between fourteeners Wetterhorn Peak and Uncompahgre Peak in the San Juan range of southwestern Colorado. It is often climbed in combination with one or the other fourteeners, or even with both to make a threesome (and very long climbing day).
The easiest route up Matterhorn Peak (Southeast Slope) is mostly a class 2 walkup, but there is a small section of class 3 near the summit.
According to Gerry Roach's Colorado Thirteener Peak List
, Matterhorn Peak is the 193rd tallest peak in the state of Colorado, making it a "Bicentenial Thirteener" (one of the state's 200 highest peaks). Matterhorn Peak has 570 feet of prominence above the saddle between it and its parent peak, fourteener Wetterhorn Peak which stands 0.86 miles to the west-southwest.
Matterhorn Creek originates at the base of Matterhorn Peak to the south. The East Fork of the Cimarron River originates to the west of Matterhorn Peak. Another tributary of the Cimarron River originates between Matterhorn Peak and Uncompahgre Peak to the east.
From the summit one is awarded with great views of nearby fourteeners Wetterhorn Peak and Uncompahgre Peak as well as other neighboring peaks in the San Juan range.
The Southeast Slope route (which is likely the easiest route up Matterhorn Peak) involves starting at the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead
Matterhorn Peak is in Uncompahgre Wilderness
. Wilderness regulations apply.
Camping is permitted along Henson Creek Road 9.2 miles outside of the town of Lake City (after passing the Capitol City townsite). Camping is also allowed along the trail to Matterhorn Peak.