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Telluride Traverses

Colorado > Alpine Rock > San Juans > Northern San Juans


The rock quality around Telluride is chossy, all different colors and qualities of sketchy rock. Protection is hard to find on most peaks; however, the rock that is vertical is generally somewhat sound and rock pro can be had. The best bet is to test everything, and to only push in and down-no pulling. When snow or ice is present, the nastiness is frozen together, which is nice.

In the summer, you can count on about an hour per peak once you have gained the skyline. The steep gendarmes can mostly be climbed over au cheval, as going around will cause you to lose the ridgeline and much elevation. Snow cornices last well into the fall generally on the north and shady side of things for water replenishment.

Getting There

To get to Section A, walk or drive up Tomboy Road from Telluride to Imogene Pass (13,114').

To get to Section B, climb Mount Emma (13,581').

To get to Section C, climb Campbell Peak (13,213') and traverse north to T.O.

A map is most necessary, the more detailed the better. Wear your helmet and scree gaiters. Many bail options exist all throughout the traverse. It is also possible to ammend the traverse in many ways, study the map and go big!

Routes from Left to Right

Photos [Hide ALL Photos]

From T.O.  The ridge line as its runs north and turns the corner west.
[Hide Photo] From T.O. The ridge line as its runs north and turns the corner west.

Comments [Hide ALL Comments]

the Mountains
[Hide Comment] $50 bounty paid to the first traverser of Section B, from Emma taking the ridge line over Gilpin, Block Top, Dallas, West Dallas and TO.

$100 for the complete traverse from Imogene Pass to Hayden Peak in a push.

A challenge for some beer money, an incentive for interest. Dec 3, 2013
Nik Mirhashemi
Telluride, CO
[Hide Comment] So has this ever been attempted and failed (section B or the whole thing)? And how much for a winter traverse? Dec 27, 2013
[Hide Comment] I think "Black Top" may be more commonly referred to as "Block Top". Dec 30, 2013
the Mountains
[Hide Comment] Block Tops, for sure, though "commonly" I doubt. Thanks -- poor memory. The name is rather fitting when viewed from Sneffels or Dallas Divide. I am working on getting photos up which illustrate the challenge.

Section B has been attempted following Section A from Imogene Pass, failure prior to Gilpin. Section B has not yet been attempted on its own.

Value of a winter traverse? Winter may hold an advantage if you could rely on snowclimbing over the scree/choss and ice holding the rock together. The problems are evident-short days, cold, unstable fluff snow on the north side, wind cornices, slower pace....

I would be delighted to hand over $150 to whoever can do the whole shebang in the winter. How's that sound for endorsement?

Bring a GPS to show the elevation profile - that would be really interesting. Jan 26, 2014
Nik Mirhashemi
Telluride, CO
[Hide Comment] You can keep the money. I only ask that I can name the traverse. "Telluride Traverse" seems a little bland, and it winter does have its advantages. I made it all the way to Mt. Emma and back into town in 26 hours before I couldn't take the postholing anymore. That road is a real bitch though. Feb 26, 2014
the Mountains
[Hide Comment] Well done, Senor Sauce,
That sounds like a pretty long day in the snow. Eight mountains down, only those eight again plus Gilpin, Block Tops, Dallas, West Dallas, T. Zero, S3, S5, S6, Mears, S7, S8, S9, and S10 to go. Plenty of time up high to think of a more appropriate moniker. How was the first third? Any trouble getting around the Saint Sophia-like spires? How did you handle those stretches? Which route did you take off of Emma? Any trouble there? Avalanche danger? Thanks for sharing your experience!
Lucky trails, and I'll stick by my offer. Feb 27, 2014