Finding peak experience with new book

“Peaks of the Uncompahgre” by Jeff Burch and Don Paulson is an entertaining and informative book that provides much-needed answers to the age-old question, “What’s that mountain over there?”

Summer is here and it’s time to get out and see the sights, or heights, if you’re headed into the high country.

For many travelers, getting to know a place also means learning the names of those places, and one of the newest additions to anyone’s traveling library is a slim soft-cover book titled “Peaks of the Uncompahgre,” by Jeff Burch of Delta and Don Paulson of Ouray.

The 46-page book, plus both covers, features Burch’s color panoramic photography and notes on mountain names and places by Paulson, a retired chemistry professor and now the curator of the Ouray County Museum.

Simply put, the book answers a lot of questions that otherwise may never get answered.

Covering the landscape from Storm King (11,412 feet) in the Cimarron Range all the way around to Horsefly Peak (10,347) on the south end of the Uncompahgre Plateau, with 40 peaks (the authors’ count) higher than 13,000 feet, the book clearly designates each peak with its name and elevation.

Did you ever wonder why some peaks, instead of having colorful names such as Precipice Peak (13,144) or Teakettle (13,819), are referred to by a letter prefix, such as U 4 (12,986) and S 9 (13,134 and easily visible from Dallas Divide)?

According to the authors, the lettering system began in 1932 when the Colorado Mountain Club decided to tag names on previously (officially) unnamed peaks.

The letters supposedly came from the name of the USGS quadrangle maps on which the peak is found (S 4 is on the Sams quad), but as the authors noted, at least one doesn’t accord to the definition. U 4 is on the Wetterhorn quadrangle.

Many of those high points still bear the unadorned tags from the CMC and also bear unofficial but well-recognized local names.

Where possible, the names were gleaned from U.S, Geological Survey topographic maps although the authors also referred to local names and references when they thought it appropriate.

“Peaks of the Uncompahgre” ($29.95, 2012, CPC Solutions, Inc., Grand Junction) is available through


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