Uncompahgre Peak

Leaving the Front Range, we immediately got stuck in traffic. Andrew and I didn’t want to admit it to each other, but neither of us really wanted to make the five-hour drive down to the San Juans. We didn’t pull into our little camping spot for the night until around 10 pm. We set our alarms for 3:30 am.

Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay

I didn’t fight the alarm when it went off—I’d been awake most of the night anyway. I’m not sure if it’s the elevation or my nerves, but I rarely sleep well before an early morning hike. We hit the trailhead around 4:45 am and walked through the trees with only the light of my headlight. I rambled on and on, in the darkness, just to make sure bears knew I was coming. We got above treeline at first light. Our reward for waking up early, a colorful sunrise and alpenglow on Uncompahgre. We stood in the middle of a valley dappled with wildflowers and 360 degree views of the stunning San Juan mountains. This is why we drove five hours. This is why we wake up at 3 am, I thought to myself.

Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay

The hike to the summit of Uncompahgre is not long (2.5 miles), and the trail doesn’t get steep until the second half. We continued on the switchbacks, to the ridgeline, where we were greeted with views of Wetterhorn Peak and jagged mountains, as far as we could see. I hiked slow as the trail got steeper, knowing that our early start meant plenty of time to reach the summit without worry of afternoon storms.

Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay

Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay

The summit offered panoramic views of the San Juans. Nearby, Wetterhorn, our first 14er in the San Juans. In the distance, I think we spied Mount Sneffels, the mountain Andrew proposed on.

The summit was chilly, so we snapped some photos, ate some lunch, and hiked back down. By 10 am we were back at the truck. Storms began to blow in by 11.

Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay Uncompahgre Peak Photo Essay

RT: 7.25 miles

Elevation gain: 3,000′

Uncompahgre’s Elevation: 14,309′

Photo credit: Andrew Bradberry

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5 thoughts on “Uncompahgre Peak

      1. You’ve also knocked out the SW ridge on Sneffels, and from what I’ve seen of past blog posts, you can hold your own as a rock climber. Seems like you’re ready for for them to me. If you haven’t done it yet, Wetterhorn is a piece of cake. But fun and beautiful. I found Eolus challenging but great. N Eolus was the easiest Class 3 I’ve done. Aside from that, I’ve yet to tackle the Wilsons and Sunlight among the tougher SJs. But I’d like to!

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