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It is hard to find, at least for many of us here in the Four Corners, such a concentration of mountaineering splendor as in the San Juans. This range is comprised of the Needles and Grenadiers and these two areas form the core of true backcountry mountaineering; the other sub-ranges are the North San Juans and the West Needles. The Grenadiers, a row of proud sentinels, are also known as the Quartzite Peaks, while the Needles are a haphazard mix of peaks and passes, culminating in the Sunlight-Windom massif.
The easiest and quickest way to get into the heart of these peaks is to take the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge railroad from either Silverton or Durango to Elk Park or Needleton. Alternately, and depending on which areas one intends to visit, one could approach from Beartown, American Basin, Andrews Lake, Molas Switchbacks, Vallecito, Purgatory Flats, etc.
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for San Juans:
North Face of West Trinity Peak Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 1100' The Grenadiers : West Trinity Peak
Southwest Chimney 5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 80' Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilder... : Coxcomb Peak
Center Shift on Wham Ridge 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1000' The Grenadiers : Vestal Peak
South Chimney 5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilder... : Chimney Rock
Featured Route For San Juans
Standard Route, Sunlight Spire 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Sunlight Spire
From the standard route on Sunlight Peak leave the trail at about 13,700' and head up a steep slope to the base of the summit block. This approach is 3rd class but rather loose and steep for about 300 feet.A short 5.7 pitch leads to the base of the overhanging crack. This crack is a perfect size for jamming but is rather sustained and made more difficult by the altitude. The start is made easier by a ramp you can work your feet along, but the ramp eventually is too far left. The crack remind...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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