You would think with gas prices being what they are that road trips would become a thing of the past. Not so! Remember, you may not regret the trip you took, but you’re sure to regret the trip you didn’t take.
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So…with that motto to live by, we decided on to jump in the Rubicon and head to Colorado for the weekend. Never mind that it was a 12 – 14 hour drive to southwest Colorado. Never mind that the weather forecast was dismal, and never mind that we had to be at work on Monday. Again, we didn’t want to regret NOT going, so we threw rationality to the wind, packed up Rubi (our beloved TJ Rubicon), and headed west down I-40. We were bound for one of the most beautiful places in Colorado…the mighty San Juans, home to some of the best Jeep roads and mountains to climb anywhere in the U.S.
As our faithful readers may remember, the mighty San Juans are a Jeeper’s and climber’s paradise. In a previous issue, we enjoyed climbing several peaks and going places in the San Juans that only a Jeep could take us. There are hundreds of mountains to climb and Jeep roads to explore. This road trip would bring us to Wetterhorn Peak, a spectacular 14,017’ (14er) peak in the heart of the San Juan range. Due to its remoteness, we would need the Wrangler to ferry our camping and climbing gear the last mile or so to the trailhead. Getting close to the mountain allows us to get an early jumpstart on the mountain. Rubi had no trouble negotiating the 4-wheel drive road to the upper trailhead (GPS N38.03083/W107.49139).
The day started with a 4:00am wake-up call, a light breakfast, and on the trail by 4:30am. An early start allows us to hopefully beat the notorious afternoon mountain storms. When hiking and climbing in the mountains, it is very important to leave before sunrise because once above tree line, there is no escape from the deadly storms and lightning. With that in mind, we headed out early to try to beat the weather. The trail up to the base of Wetterhorn is fairly benign and gradually ascends the drainage following Matterhorn Creek. Be mindful of a signed trail intersection where you turn RIGHT (GPS N38.03891 W107.49332).
As the sun came up, the full glory of Wetterhorn and Matterhorn peaks came into view. We ascended the southwest ridge of Wetterhorn and headed directly towards the class 3 summit block. Wetterhorn Peak has a fairly good trail to the base of the mountain, but once on the mountain proper, the difficulties began.