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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
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
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