Introduction, Approach, Description, Descent, & Animal Alerts
ROUTE SUMMARY IMAGES
From the Los Pinos River Trailhead, hike twelve miles up one of the longest, flattest, mountain-wilderness valleys in Colorado. A mile before Flint Creek the trail starts climbing. Soon after the left turn up Flint Creek the Pope's Nose can finally be seen (photo above). Less than two miles up the Flint Creek trail there is a nice campsite below the Pope's Nose. Finally, a steep aspen forest must be climbed and slippery slabs dodged on the way up to the base of the wall.
First scramble off the summit. Then descend Fern Gully to the slippery aspen forest (climber's right of summit). One party reported finding a rappel anchor that they could not safely get too (near the bottom). There is some consensus that this descent is awful!
It might be longer, but descending the west side, climber's left, seems worth a try.
Moose and bears inhabit this wilderness. One textbook notes that the Wemminuche Wilderness is the southernmost pocket of grizzly bear habitat.
6 Total Routes
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for The Pope's Nose:
Central Buttress 5.10 6b 20 VII- 19 E2 5b A0+ Trad, Aid, 10 pitches, 1200'
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Chalice Wall 5.9 5c 17 VI 17 HVS 5a A2 CO : Durango : ... : The Pope's Nose
In 1968, a group of backpackers traversing the San Juan Mountains hiked under the Popes Nose. Seventeen year old assistant guide Jim Galvin, well trained by his mentor Tap Tapley, was able to recognize the outstanding quality of the smooth dome. Jim Galvin and Michael Burdick had already done a lot of alpine rock climbing and recognized that Colorado's mountains were practically untouched. They also knew that part of mountaineering during the Vietnam Era was making the "Easy Rider" crossing o...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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