Wetterhorn Peak Route Guide – 14er Tips to Succeed
The southwest ridge Wetterhorn Peak route is a great climb in the southern Colorado Rockies. Following 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 go you’ll pass the “Prow,” a large fin-shaped outcropping just below the summit, a major landmark on this peak. This route is exposed, so if heights aren’t your thing, you may want to pick a less challenging peak. Start planning your climb with my Wetterhorn Peak Route Guide below.
Wetterhorn Peak Route Guide Fast Facts
Wetterhorn Peak Route Guide - Southwest Ridge
About .8 miles from the trailhead, you’ll 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.
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.
- Find a V-shaped notch to the left that allows passage over the rib. Pass through and continue up to the summit.
- 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.
I hope you enjoyed this Wetterhorn Peak Route.
You can download this map on your phone or print out a copy to bring with you on your climb. Always bring some hardcopy map in case your digital version fails or breaks.
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.
Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.
- Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
- Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
- Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
- Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
- Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
Hiking, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. 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 rosk.
About the Author: Alex Derr
Alex Derr is a mountaineer and blogger based in Denver Colorado. He is working to climb Colorado’s highest 100 peaks, and the 20 tallest peaks in California. He created The Next Summit to share advice, stories, history & reflections from the Colorado Rockies & Sierra Nevada. When not climbing, he is managing the Communications strategy at Visible Network Labs.