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Ascent of Uncompahgre Peak on 2018-07-07

Climber: William Musser

Other People:Solo Ascent
Date:Saturday, July 7, 2018
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:4x4 Vehicle
Peak:Uncompahgre Peak
    Location:USA-Colorado
    Elevation:14309 ft / 4361 m

Ascent Trip Report

Started up the 4 wheel drive road Nellie Creek route but it was getting late and it was raining. I elected to stop about half way up the 4 mile road where it leveled off and there was some camping spots. By doing this, I allowed the hike to be over 4k but less than the 5k if one starts at the bottom parking lot and it seemed that the 2.9k gain from the top of the 4x4 parking was too short. I wanted to earn it but being solo, I was not keen on the full 5k gain. The second rationale for stopping short was my lack of confidence in what I can do in my Nissan Frontier long cab truck still. The road as it turns out has had recent maintenance and was in good shape. It was rougher in many ways in the first half than the second half. My truck did fine. I never took it out of 4-high.

I parked just before the large creek crossing. Immediately after the creek crossing is a sharp hairpin curve. I would say that that roadway between the first creek crossing and the second was the harder 4 wheel section not so much because of rocks but tight hairpin curves and fewer places to pass. Once you get past the second water crossing, it is a simply easy drive with few rocks and frankly a car could do that last mile. But again, it was getting dark and raining so I elected to stop half way up where there were obvious camps sites. I slept in my truck.

I left at 5:30 AM and hiked up the remaining 2 miles of 4x4 road and it was over 1,200 feet of gain to the official hiking trailhead. I met up with two young hikers from FL that were in top shape and acclimated being here for 30 days hiking up high. TC and Hollis. They were an interesting chat and we took care of the lower part hiking very fast. I finally lost them near the top and they summitted ahead of me but the three of us FL raised peakbaggers were first to summit. I think I was on top by 9:05 left summit at 9:30 and was down by 11:30. So about 5 and half hours of climbing time to grab 11.6 miles and over 4,000 feet.

Near the top, the site 14ers.com suggests you head for the large pinnacle and go to the left. I could not remember which way and me and another climber debated the route. more worn path was up and to the right of the pinnacle so off we went. That route is steeper and more exposed than the left. THe lose rock and steepness of the broken slabs clearly required hands down for all the went that way. Thus, that route is not a class 2 as the books say. If one goes to the left of the pinnacle, the rock is more class 2 like but still loose. We went up the class 2+/3 route and came down the class 2. Although the route around the right is not hard somewhere between a scamper 2+ and easy scramble 3 - it is simply not good rock.

The best part of this summit is the surprisingly sharp cliffs off the peak. I had no idea that once you summitted you would be treated with one of the most breathtaking views down. The cliff edge on top of this peak affords some of the most vertical plunges I have ever seen on any 14er. It is about a 1,000 foot drop off the north face and in places, you can look down and it appears to be 90 degree vertical! Hollis had no fear of heights. She has us take her picture sitting on the edge of the 1,000 foot cliff drop. I had to get the same photo although, I confess, I sat a good foot further back than she did. Wow!


Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:4239 ft / 1291 m
    Total Elevation Loss:130 ft / 38 m
    Round-Trip Distance:11.6 mi / 18.7 km
    Grade/Class:1,2,2+
    Quality:9 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Maintained Trail, Scramble
    Weather:Hot, Calm, Clear
Beautiful early AM
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:4174 ft / 1272 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 4109 ft / 1253 m; Extra: 65 ft / 19m
    Loss on way in:65 ft / 19 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:Nellie Creek 4 wheel to Route 27.1 Roach
    Start Trailhead:camp sites before water crossing 4 wheel road  10200 ft / 3108 m
    Time:3 Hours 25 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:65 ft / 19 m
    Gain on way out:65 ft / 19 m
    Distance:5.8 mi / 9.3 km
    Route:same
    Time:2 Hours 



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