Sign Up  |   Log In:Login with Facebook
REI Community
San Juans

Select Area...
Dallas Peak 
Engineer Pass 
Gilpin Peak 
Grenadiers, The 
Mount Sneffels 
Needles, The 
Peak 17 "Little Finger" 
Twin Peaks 
Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness 

San Juans Rock Climbing 

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Location: 37.6566, -107.6015 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 277,608
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Matthias Holladay on Mar 5, 2012
You & This Area
Best climbs for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
Uncompahgre from Matterhorn, San Juan Mountains.


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.

Getting There 

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.

Climbing Season

Weather station 10.5 miles from here

40 Total Climbing Routes

['4 Stars',6],['3 Stars',20],['2 Stars',10],['1 Star',1],['Bomb',0]

Classic Climbing Routes in San Juans

Mountain Project's determination of the classic, most popular, highest rated climbing routes for San Juans:
Naked Lady Couloir   Mod. Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine, 1000'   West Needle Mountains : Snowdon Peak
Snake (Dogleg) Couloir   Steep Snow     Trad, Snow, Alpine   Mount Sneffels
Southwest Ridge   3rd 1- 1 I 1 M 1a     Trad, Alpine, Grade II   Mount Sneffels
West Buttress   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, Alpine, 800'   West Needle Mountains : Snowdon Peak
Northeast Ridge   4th 1 2 I 2 M 1b     Trad, Alpine   West Needle Mountains : Snowdon Peak
North Face of West Trinity Peak   Easy 5th 1+ 3 I 5 M 1c     Trad, Alpine, 5 pitches, 1100'   The Grenadiers : West Trinity Peak
Normal Route   5.2 3 8 II 8 D 2c     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 800'   The Needles : Jagged Mountain
East Face/Dallas Peak   5.3 3+ 10 III 9 VD 3a     Trad, Alpine, 1 pitch   Dallas Peak
Wham Ridge   5.4 4a 12 IV 10 VD 3c R     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches, 2000'   The Grenadiers : Vestal Peak
Light Line   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 3 pitches, 1200'   Engineer Pass
North Ridge   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 10 pitches   The Grenadiers : Arrow Peak
North Buttress   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 1500'   Mount Sneffels
Southwest Chimney   5.6 4c 14 V 12 S 4b     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 80'   Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilder... : Coxcomb Peak
South Chimney   5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, Alpine, 4 pitches   Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilder... : Chimney Rock
Center Shift on Wham Ridge    5.7 5a 15 V+ 13 MVS 4b R     Trad, Alpine, 6 pitches, 1000'   The Grenadiers : Vestal Peak
Standard Route, Sunlight Spire   5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b     Trad, Alpine, 2 pitches, 150'   The Needles : Sunlight Spire
Browse More Rock Climbing Classics in San Juans

Featured Route For San Juans
Rock Climbing Photo: Looking back on the first pitch of the standard ro...

Noname Needle, Standard Route 5.8 5b 16 VI- 15 HVS 4c  CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Noname Needle
Noname Needle resides on the Jagged ridgeline, between Jagged Mountain to the east and Gray Needle to the west, at 13,620 feet. It has two summits; the north summit is the true summit. Ascend the weakness between the two summits on the west side. The terrain is about 5.8 on good quality granite.The route takes pro in the 1-3" range. Belay at the top of this west-facing weakness.Pitch two is a scramble up and around the west and north sides of, and ultimately onto, the huge summit block...[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Photos of San Juans Slideshow Add Photo
Rock Climbing Photo: If I recall correctly, Monitor, Peak 13, and the r...
If I recall correctly, Monitor, Peak 13, and the r...
Rock Climbing Photo: Balsam Lake and a few Outward Bound TR areas just ...
Balsam Lake and a few Outward Bound TR areas just ...
Rock Climbing Photo: From another direction . . . .
From another direction . . . .
Rock Climbing Photo: Sunlight Basin w/ left foto added to note moderate...
Sunlight Basin w/ left foto added to note moderate...
Rock Climbing Photo: Mmnn....
Rock Climbing Photo: Views...Rio Grande Pyramid in the distance.
Views...Rio Grande Pyramid in the distance.
Rock Climbing Photo: The ridge of . . .?
The ridge of . . .?
Rock Climbing Photo: Nice....
Rock Climbing Photo: Rocks.... Jagged in the distance.
Rocks.... Jagged in the distance.
Rock Climbing Photo: Upper Lime Creek Conglomorate.
Upper Lime Creek Conglomorate.

Comments on San Juans Add Comment
Show which comments
By Matthias Holladay
From: Durango, Colorado
Mar 5, 2012
The Guardian, Animas Mtn., The Index, Jagged, Knifepoint, Sneffels, the numbered peaks, Pigeon, Storm King, Silex, Vestal, West Needles, The Trinities, Sunlight, Windom, etc. all belong here, some with some sub-groups...This area also includes other subranges, not yet mentioned here on MP, like the San Miguels AKA Silverton West, as well as the areas around west of Lake City and the Rio Grande Pyramid.
By Nic Harnish
From: Durango, CO
Mar 7, 2012
These mountains certainly deserve their own page.
By eggman
From: Tucson, AZ
Jul 19, 2012
I think we need a little organization here. I've noticed a lot of misinformation and scrabbly writing on these San Juan pages, especially for the grenadiers/needles. The Mount Silex page should be re-done.

The Definitive
Climbing Resource

Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run

Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps

Backcountry, Sidecountry
& Secret Stashes

Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!