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The Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness is the centerpiece of San Juan mountaineering and presently comprises an area in excess of 102,000 acres in the Uncompahgre National Forest. Technical climbing can be found throughout, although many of the high peaks can be ascended as hikes alone. The San Juan mountaineers have established technical routes on many of the peaks with many of these ascents being roped winter ascents with or without ski descents. A who's who of interesting peaks includes Uncompahgre Peak (14,309 feet), Wetterhorn Peak (14015), Matterhorn Peak (13,700), and various lesser peaks including Turret, Coxcomb, Precipice, Dunsinane, Courthouse Mountain, and Chimney Peak. The Cimmeron Range itself is included in the area and can be host to a near infinite amount of high end technical climbing. In many of the areas we have visited in recent years the potential for very difficult bouldering on welded tuffa, schist, and conglomerate rock is likewise almost endless. Although frequently disparaged, rock quality throughout the wilderness is enormously variable, but frequently excellent. While some of the welded tufa is truly bullet proof, some of the softer conglomerate is probably not of much interest for pure rock climbing, although possibly fine in winter. In addition, crags found in the surrounding National Forest and BLM land will be subject to different regulation vis-a-vis in situ protection than crags in the wilderness proper. Don't be surprised, however, to find old rusty pitons tucked away on crags within the present wilderness boundary.
The Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness is accessed from Ouray, Ridgeway, Lake City, and Gunnison in south/west Colorado. Detailed access will be provided for the specific mountain or crag destination as this area evolves.
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Mountain Project's determination of some of the classic, most popular, highest rated routes for Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness:
Featured Route For Uncompahgre/Big Blue Wilderness
Southwest Chimney 5.6 4c 14 V S 4b CO : Alpine Rock : ... : Coxcomb Peak
An ascent of Coxcomb from the south involves two separate technical sections plus some ridge-running. To start, find a deeply inset chimney system on the southwest face and start up a 12' cracked block that leads to a 4th class gully. This steepens to an ~80' section of 5.2 chimney. Emerge on the ridge and head east.A prominent 30' notch is guarded by a 5.6 wide crack to downclimb. 4th class terrain past the notch leads to the summit. Some people rappel into the notch during the ascent and l...[more] Browse More Classics in CO
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