Login with Facebook
Northern San Juans

Select Area...
Gladstone Peak 
Lizard Head 
Mears Peak 
Telluride Traverse 
Wilson Peak 
Wilson Peaks 

Northern San Juans  

Photos:  Recent | Best | Popular
Elevation: 13,000'
Location: 37.93917, -107.80766 View Map  Incorrect?
Page Views: 7,070
Administrators: Ben Mottinger, Leo Paik, John McNamee, Frances Fierst, Monomaniac, Kristine Hoffman (sitewide)
Submitted By: Stiles on Nov 7, 2013
Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
60° | 40°
Partly Cloudy
56° | 33°
Partly Cloudy
48° | 22°
Partly Cloudy
48° | 24°
Partly Cloudy
55° | 33°
You & This Area
Best routes for YOU in this area
Your opinion of this PAGE:    [0 people like this page.]
My dad, age 62, on the last pitch. His last 13er.


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
From Campbell looking south to T.O. with a difficu...

Section C 5.5 4b 13 IV+ 11 MS 4a CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Telluride Traverse
This is a ridge traverse from Campbell Peak northwest to Hayden Peak, crossing the summits of ten 13'ers. They are, in order of ascent East to West: Campbell Peak, T.Zero, S3, S5, S6, Mears Peak, S7, S8, S9, and S10.  Hayden Peak is a 12'er, and there are a couple of other mountains that must be climbed but are not recognized as such - the mountain just west of S6, for example. If completed from Section B of the whole 'Telluride Traverse' from Imogene Pass, Campbell Peak would not be included....[more]   Browse More Classics in CO

Comments on Northern San Juans Add Comment
Show which comments
- none yet -
Beyond the Guidebook:
The Definitive Climbing Resource
Inspiration & Motivation
to Fuel Your Run
Next Generation Mountain
Bike Trail Maps
Backcountry, Sidecountry
and Secret Stashes
Better Data. Better Tools.
Better Hikes!