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> Alpine Rock
> Northern San Juans
Lizard Head is a very impressive mountain located in the San Juan mountain range near Telluride. The top 500 feet of Lizard Head is a near vertical pillar, the result of heavy erosion leaving just the neck of an ancient volcano. Known as possibly the most difficult mountain summit to reach in Colorado, the routes to the summit are loose and start at about 5.8 in difficulty. The summit itself is at 13,113 feet above sea level.
There are at least 3 established lines on the tower's south face. All the routes require testing every hold, as much loose rock exists. Routes are 3 to 4 pitches long, with one pitch in the middle being loose class 3. Bring 2 ropes for the rappel, and expect to do some downclimbing. Start early, as this would be a bad place to be in a thunderstorm.
From Telluride, drive south towards Lizard Head [Pass]. A trailhead is here for one optional approach. Probably a better approach is to continue south from the pass for about two miles. Turn right on a dirt road with signs for the Cross Mountain trailhead. Take a left at the almost immediate junction on the dirt road, cross a creek, and continue to a parking area for Cross Mountain.
Follow the well defined trail, taking a right at a junction a few minutes from the car (sign near reads 'Groundhog Stock Trail'). Continue up the trail for about 3 miles to a pass between Cross Mountain (~12,700 feet on the left), and Lizard Head on the right. Head up the grass shoulder which turns to scree higher up. This is pretty easy if you find the strong climber's trail that goes to the base. Head around the base to the right to find the south face routes.
[Hide Photo] Lizard Head as seen from the southeast ridgeline.
[Hide Photo] As seen from near the base of the standard route.
[Hide Photo] The shot was taking on our approach. The normal approach trail is to our left and follows the left skyline to the base of Lizard Head. The peaks seen in the background are the Wilson Group.