Saturday, June 30, 2012
At 14,309 feet, Uncompahgre Peak is the highest point in the San Juan Mountains and the 6th highest in Colorado. It was also our destination this morning.
After work on Friday, Jackson and I loaded up my Jeep and headed south to the San Juan’s. We made a quick stop for dinner in Montrose and then we were soon passing through Ouray and turning off the highway on the rough road following the Uncompahgre River and Mineral Creek. Next we found ourselves driving at just under 13,000 feet as we crossed Engineer Pass and dropped back down along Henson Creek. When we reached the rough road that follows Nellie Creek we turned onto it and climbed a few thousand feet again until we had reached the boundary for the Uncompahgre Wilderness area and the trailhead to Uncompahgre Peak. We quickly setup camp in what was left of the twilight and got to bed early.
Bright and early on Saturday morning we were up and having a quick breakfast before starting the hike. As we entered the wilderness our surroundings were still in the shadows, but occasionally we would catch a glimpse of Uncompahgre Peak lit up with a golden early morning light. Next time I will have to get an earlier start so I can take a few photos of that (and also bring along my DSLR).
Uncompahgre Peak lit up with golden light on a cloudless morning.
Uncompahgre Peak…that way!
Easy trail through the alpine tundra.
This butterfly was warming up in the sunlight along the trail.
After gaining the main ridge around 13,000 feet we followed it towards the peak.
This marmot was sitting in the sun while the rocks behind were in the shade.
Looking down on the trail we just ascended with a cool-looking unnamed peak in the background.
Starting up the most difficult section of the trail. Just some Class 2 scrambling required.
Finally we reached the summit. Jackson taking photos in the background.
Jackson on the summit. We couldn’t see the Grand Mesa because of smoke from the wildfires on the horizon.
Jackson took this photo of me on Uncompahgre Peak.
Looking down into Big Blue Creek from the summit.
After spending a little time on the summit we started the hike back down.
When we reached the trailhead again, we broke down camp and drove back to Silverton over Engineer Pass and through Animas Forks. I grabbed a quick lunch from Handlebars before driving back home. It was a great day and I was able to climb my first 14er of the year. I am hoping to get in two more this year before the season is over.