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Northern San Juans

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Northern San Juans  

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Elevation: 13,000'
Location: 37.93917, -107.80766 View Map  Incorrect?
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Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Stiles on Nov 7, 2013
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In the middle of the first pitch.


Telluride is surrounded by thirteeners and four fourteeners with a plethora of technical options that can be ascended year round. The San Juans are the 'freshest' mountain range in the US (newest geologically), and the rock quality is generally chossy everywhere. Once the angle rears up to near vertical, however, the rock improves to a point of taking gear you can trust. Alpine routes are best climbed when ice is present for protection and to hold the choss together, but most can be climbed year round. Lots of alpine ice forms in the fall and spring. Many, many accidents and deaths have occurred to hikers on the local 14ers due to rockfall. Full winter ascents are rare and skis are almost required. The remoteness of these routes compromises rescue severely. It's best not to trust your gear, ever (don't plan on rappel descents or pushing yourself); however, the technical standard in the entire area is generally low (5.5-5.8, AI3-4). There are traverses aplenty, and most peaks can be descended with low grade downclimbing if not hiking by the hiking routes. Other hiking sites are sources of beta (13ers.com, 14ers.com, summitpost.com as well as the local guide service in town).

Almost all of the technical routes are at the tops of the peaks which means long approaches and plenty of scrambling in and out. Trails crisscross everywhere and the majority of routes around Telluride can be climbed in a long day. Camping is free in the National Forest for 14 days per location.

With the exception of the 'hiking' routes on the local 14ers, it is unlikely to encounter others. I say 'hiking' because the standard routes to summits require plenty of 4th class and sometimes low 5th class on loose rock with high exposure and high consequences.

Getting There 

Telluride is in Southwestern Colorado. About 6 1/2 hours from Denver, 2 1/2 hours from Grand Junction, 2 1/2 hours from Durango, 2 1/2 hours from Moab, UT. The closest reasonably priced airport is 1 1/2 hours away in Montrose. You can fly direct to Telluride. The Victoria Inn is the cheapest accommodations in town. Groceries and liquor stores are expensive (as is everything else), so do your shopping before you arrive. There is a laundromat just outside of town in Lawson Hill.

Climbing Season

Weather station 0.9 miles from here

7 Total Routes

['4 Stars',0],['3 Stars',5],['2 Stars',1],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

The Classics

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

Featured Route For Northern San Juans
A summer view of the South face of Gladstone from ...

Lucky Strike 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b AI3 R  CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Gladstone Peak
Lucky Strike ascends the South face of Gladstone Peak. The lower half is gradually steepening snow to a few pitches of easy mixed and AI3 right up the center of the face. Once the upper headwall is attained, which is shaped like a giant triangle, the route transitions to rock and follows the right edge of the headwall to gain the South ridge 200 feet below the summit. P1-2. Clmb steep snow straight up the weakness in the center of the face. P3. Climb through a couple of easy rockbands (AI3/3+ 5....[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

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