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El Diente Peak

 North Slopes
Difficulty Class 3 
Risk FactorsExposure: Considerable
Rockfall Potential: Considerable  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: Considerable  
TrailheadNavajo Lake
Start9,350 feet
Summit14,175 feet
Total GainFrom Rock of Ages TH: 5,500 feet
From Navajo Basin TH: 5,000 feet
From Navajo Lake: 3,200 feet
From 12,000' in Navajo Basin: 2,200 feet
RT LengthFrom Rock of Ages TH: 12 miles
From Navajo Basin TH: 15 miles
From Navajo Lake: 6 miles
From 12,000' in Navajo Basin: 3 miles
Last UpdatedOct 2022
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From Telluride, drive south on Colorado 145 to Lizard Head Pass. Continue south for 5.2 miles and turn right onto Forest Road (FR) 535. Drive 4.1 miles on the 2WD dirt road to a large meadow and junction. Stay straight on 535, pass the Kilpacker trailhead at 5 miles and continue another 2 miles (7 total from CO 145) to reach the Navajo Lake trailhead entrance on the right.


WARNING: When the north slope gully is free of snow, this can be a dangerous climb due to rock-fall. If you know it doesn't have snow, consider the South Slopes route from Kilpacker Basin.

From the Rock of Ages trailhead:
Follow the Rock of Ages Approach to the Rock of Ages saddle where Mt. Wilson and El Diente Peak come into view to the south - 2. Descend approximately 800' into Navajo Basin and hike west on the Navajo trail to about 12,100' where you can see the route off to your left.

From the Navajo Basin trailhead:
Follow the Navajo Basin Approach toward the upper (east) end of Navajo Basin. Near 12,000', the route is off to the right - 3.

1 is the view of the route from Wilson Peak. Taken near 12,100', 4 and 5 are direct views of El Diente's north slope route. The route up the north slope uses a long couloir which tops-out just below the ridge. Without snow, there is a high risk of rockfall in the couloir. From the center of the basin, hike south toward the bottom of the couloir and onto the rock/snow apron at the base. Hike up Difficult Class 2 terrain to reach the open area below the couloir - 6. Above 12,500', the terrain gets slightly steeper and the couloir above becomes quite obvious - 7. Continue above 13,000' and into the defined couloir - 8. Above 13,200', the couloir steepens to a sustained pitch. Keep climbing ( 9 and 10) toward a headwall at the top of the couloir - 11. Near 13,650' and just below the headwall , turn right and locate a rock/snow ramp leading toward the ridge - 12. Scramble up the ramp ( 13), turn left and continue to a small saddle on the ridge crest - 14.

From the saddle, the easiest route is along the south side of the ridge, not on the ridge crest. Continue on loose, gray rock ( 15) to reach the south side of the ridge - 16. A section of tall, smooth rocks called the "Organ Pipes" are up to your right - 17. Scramble across mostly-solid rock as you pass under the pipes. If you take the easiest way across, you will likely encounter a set of parallel rocks that almost form a chimney - 18. Scramble through this section and continue to a small gully which leads back to the ridge - 19. Enter the gully and ascend ( 20, 21 and 22) to a small notch on the ridge.

Cross to the north side of the ridge and turn left to see the next section of the route - 23. Climb onto some rocks and soon the route becomes more obvious - 24. Your next task is to traverse along the side of the ridge to reach the small notch seen in 25. Drop a bit and scramble over to easier terrain just below the notch - 26. Climb into the notch ( 27) to finally see the end of the route - 28. Drop a few feet into a dirt gully and scramble up to the summit - 29.


IMPORTANT: This route enters the Lizard Head Wilderness area. Wilderness areas have special regulations and restrictions for party size, dispersed camping, campfires, etc. Also, dog owners should read the wilderness information carefully because some wilderness areas prohibit dogs to be off-leash and/or limit how close dogs can be to lakes and streams. If you have questions about the wilderness area, please contact a U.S. Forest Service office for the National Forest(s) listed above.
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