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Lizard Head

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Southwest Chimney T 

Lizard Head  


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Elevation: 13,113'
Location: 37.8358, -107.95 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 20,808
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Peter Gram on Sep 2, 2003
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Description 

Lizard Head is a very impressive mountain located in the San Juan mountain range near Telluride. The top 500 feet of Lizard Head is a near vertical pillar, the result of heavy erosion leaving just the neck of an ancient volcano. Known as possibly the most difficult mountain summit to reach in Colorado, the routes to the summit are loose and start at about 5.8 in difficulty. The summit itself is at 13,113 feet above sea level.

There are at least 3 established lines on the tower's south face. All the routes require testing every hold, as much loose rock exists. Routes are 3 to 4 pitches long, with one pitch in the middle being loose class 3. Bring 2 ropes for the rappel, and expect to do some downclimbing. Start early, as this would be a bad place to be in a thunderstorm.

Getting There 

From Telluride, drive south towards Lizard Head [Pass]. A trailhead is here for one optional approach. Probably a better approach is to continue south from the pass for about two miles. Turn right on a dirt road with signs for the Cross Mountain trailhead. Take a left at the almost immediate junction on the dirt road, cross a creek, and continue to a parking area for Cross Mountain.

Follow the well defined trail, taking a right at a junction a few minutes from the car (sign near reads 'Groundhog Stock Trail'). Continue up the trail for about 3 miles to a pass between Cross Mountain (~12,700 feet on the left), and Lizard Head on the right. Head up the grass shoulder which turns to scree higher up. This is pretty easy if you find the strong climber's trail that goes to the base. Head around the base to the right to find the south face routes.

Climbing Season



Weather station 3.5 miles from here

1 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',1],['2 Stars',0],['1 Star',0],['Bomb',0]
['<=5.6',0],['5.7',0],['5.8',1],['5.9',0],['5.10',0],['5.11',0],['5.12',0],['5.13',0],['>=5.14',0],['',0],['<=V1',0],['V2-3',0],['V4-5',0],['V6-7',0],['V8-9',0],['V10-11',0],['V12-13',0],['>=V14',0]

The Classics

Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Lizard Head:
Southwest Chimney   5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c R     Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 400'   
Browse More Classics in Lizard Head

Featured Route For Lizard Head
Starting the first pitch.

Southwest Chimney 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Lizard Head
On the south side of Lizard Head, look for a wide crack/chimney in a large corner. This pitch is easily identified by a large notch about 140 feet up - this is the first belay station.P1. Start up the wide crack system. An easier but probably looser variation climbs 5-10 feet right through the obvious weakness. Continue up either way for about half a rope length to a belay station with two pitons and rap rings. From this station, step left into the chimney, and look for two pitons in a crack...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of Lizard Head Slideshow Add Photo
The shot was taking on our approach. The normal approach trail is to our left and follows the left skyline to the base of Lizard Head.  <br /> <br />The peaks seen in the background are the Wilson Group.
The shot was taking on our approach. The normal ap...
Lizard from the Cross Mt. trailhead winter.
Lizard from the Cross Mt. trailhead winter.
On the trail to Lizard Head
On the trail to Lizard Head
Top of pitch one/two. We did it in one.
Top of pitch one/two. We did it in one.
Lizard Head from treeline.  Approach was mostly dry on 6/22 after a huge snow year.
Lizard Head from treeline. Approach was mostly dr...
Paul rocks choss, P3.
Paul rocks choss, P3.
View from the summit - 13,113 ft.
View from the summit - 13,113 ft.
Lizard Head as seen from the southeast ridgeline.
Lizard Head as seen from the southeast ridgeline.
Lizard Head from Cross Mt. Trail, late 11-2009.
Lizard Head from Cross Mt. Trail, late 11-2009.
Zach comming up the last pitch.
Zach comming up the last pitch.
Ca. 1910 image of "Lizzard Head" by LC McClure, from the Denver Public Library's <a href='http://photoswest.org' target='_blank' rel='nofollow' >photoswest.org</a> website.
Ca. 1910 image of "Lizzard Head" by LC M...
As seen from near the base of the standard route.
As seen from near the base of the standard route.
Pitch 1.
BETA PHOTO: Pitch 1.
Approaching at dawn, with route marked.
Approaching at dawn, with route marked.
Piton anchors at top of second pitch.
Piton anchors at top of second pitch.
Looking up the first pitch.
Looking up the first pitch.
Lizard head in winter.
Lizard head in winter.

Comments on Lizard Head Add Comment
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By Matt Juth
From: Evergreen
Sep 3, 2003
The small summet affords one of the best views you will ever see! Be extremely careful on the talus on top and middle section. A party was hit by rocks from careless people at the top the day we climbed it. They were roped up on loose talus, and their rope caused a large rockfall.
By Vince MacMillan
From: Dolores, CO
Sep 8, 2008
"It was apparent when we reached the Head that there was nasty work before us. A rottener mass of rock is inconceivable. The core may still be solid but the "surrounding tuffs" are seeking a lower level in large quantities. This far-advanced disintegration was our greatest obstacle. Absolutely the whole surface of the rock is loose and pebbles rain down from the sides as readily as needles from an aging Christmas tree." ALBERT L. ELLINGWOOD, November, 1921.
By Ray Hellinger
From: Flagstaff, az
Jul 16, 2012
Rope soloed this one a few yrs ago after my partner bailed a few hundred feet from the start of the climb. He blamed the altitude, but I think it was lack of courage, haha. First pitch was VERY fun and solid. The 3rd class, scree scramble what the scariest part. I the 5.7, ledges variation to the summit was pretty easy to climb and downclimb. After looking at the anchors on the summit, I think I would have downclimbed even with a rope (I left it fixed at the first pitch).
By Matthias Holladay
From: Durango, Colorado
Jul 14, 2014
George, that makes sense!