Climbing Wetterhorn Peak | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice

Climbing Wetterhorn in the southern Colorado Rockies is a fantastic fourteener adventure. Starting with an approach hike through alpine meadows, you’ll ascend through boulder fields and along the ridge before making a few class 3 moves to gain the summit. As you ascend, you will pass the “Prow,” a sizeable fin-shaped outcropping just below the summit and a key landmark on this route. Climbing Wetterhorn Peak involves some exposure, so if you are not comfortable with heights and cliffs, you may want to pick a less challenging peak. Plan your trip with my route description, map, weather forecasts, and more below.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Climbing Wetterhorn Peak: Fast Facts

Climbing Wetterhorn Peak: Southwest Ridge

While driving to the trailhead, about .8 miles away, you will come to a junction with a sign that says the trailhead is ahead. Park here if you don’t have 4WD and hike up to the trailhead.

From the trailhead, start hiking up the basin about 3/4 of a mile until you come to a split. Go right and continue north following some switchbacks up the hill. Exit the trees around 11,600 feet. Turn left onto the Wetterhorn Peak route to begin climbing Wetterhorn Peak

Continue north until you reach rocky terrain east of the peak. Continue through the rocks until you reach a saddle along Wetterhorn Peak’s southeast ridge. From here, the route gets more intense.

Turn right and start up the rocky ridge. Continue along yellow-covered dirt. Use a small trail along the left side of the ridge. Above and ahead of you, you will see the Prow, a large rock outcropping just below the summit. Some scrambling will be required as you follow the route towards the Prow gradually.

Eventually you will come to a rock rib that blocks easy passage to the summit. Turn right at the rib to climb a small gully back towards the ridge crest. From here, you have two different paths forward.

  1. Find a V-shaped notch to the left that allows passage over the rib. Pass through and continue up to the summit.
  2. Continue around the rocks at the top of the gully to reach the ridge crest directly, and then follow the crest to the summit.

Around 13,800 feet, pass along the right of the prow through a flat section below the summit. Climb through the higher of two notches located between the summit and Prow. Turn right to face the crux of the route: a steep class 3 section of scrambling. It looks imposing but is very stable. At the top, you’ll come to a ledge/catwalk. You can either climb directly from here to the summit or go left to find easier climbing to the peak.

From the summit, you should enjoy the view and your accomplishment. Descend with time to reach the tree line before afternoon thunderstorms become a hazard. I hope you found my route guide helpful for preparing for this trip. Safe travels and good luck climbing Wetterhorn Peak!

Wetterhorn Peak Route

All those climbing Wetterhorn Peak need to bring a topopgraphic map with them for navigation in the field. I recommend saving a digital version of this map on your phone and printing out a paper backup copy in case anything happens to your electronics. It isn’t a bad idea to bring a compass and GPS unit or app as well.

Use these two sources to check the weather conditions before your trip. Consider the temperature high and low, wind speed, precipitation, and whether there are any storm systems on the horizon to be aware of. No Wetterhorn Peak Route Guide is complete without weather forecasts.

Mountain Forecast for the Wetterhorn Peak Route

Below is a complete weather forecast from the National Weather Service. I recommend reading through it thoroughly to help inform your planning.

This trailhead is inaccessible during the winter and spring until the snow melts completely. Plan accordingly.

DIRECTIONS TO THE TRAILHEAD FROM LAKE CITY:

Turn onto 2nd Street in Lake City and drive two blocks. Turn left onto North Bluff Street and continue 9 miles. Turn right on County Road 24 and continue 2 miles until you see the trailhead on the right side of the road. If you have a 4WD vehicle you can continue along the road to reach the upper trailhead a few hundred meters further. Begin climbing Wetterhorn Peak from the north end of the parking area.

There are a few types of gear you will need while climbing Wetterhorn Peak if you want to increase your chance of a safe and successful ascent. Here’s what I recommend bringing with you for this fourteener.

Read all of my gear reviews and recommendations by clicking here.

Camping near Wetterhorn Peak;

There are several campgrounds in the valley and dozens of great dispersed campsites along the road leading to the trailhead. Campgrounds include:

Lodging near Wetterhorn Peak:

Your best bets for lodging are Lake City and Creede, Colorado, which are both within 45-90 minutes of the trailhead.

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Lake City, Creede, and the surrounding area, ideal for those climbing Wetterhorn Peak.

Wetterhorn Peak is located in a pristine wilderness area that faces an increasing number of visitors with each passing year. Help preserve these peaks for future generations by following these Leave No Trace practices while climbing Wetterhorn Peak.

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off-trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck climbing Wetterhorn Peak! Learn more about LNT on 14ers here.

Wetterhorn Peak is named after a mountain in the European Alps. Its namesake 12,113 mountain is slightly shorter than its American cousin, which it closely resembles, however it is heavily glaciated which makes it a tougher and more technical climb.

Climbing Wetterhorn Peak is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.

NEW TO 14ERS? CHECK OUT MY BEGINNERS GUIDE FOR A SAFE FIRST SUMMIT!

Climbing Wetterhorn Peak is an inherently high-risk, dangerous activity. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

Alex Derr, Creator of The Next Summit

Alex is an Eagle Scout and mountaineer living in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. You can subscribe to his Next Summit Newsletter here.

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