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Kilpacker Approach
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Difficulty:
 Class 1 
Risk Factors:Exposure: Low
Rockfall Potential: Low  
Route-Finding: Low  
Commitment: Low  
 
Trailhead:Kilpacker basin
Start:10,100 feet
Stop:10,800 feet
Total Gain:800 feet
RT Length:6 miles RT to camping in basin
10.50 miles RT to the El Diente turn-off
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:6/2019
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:154 reports
Cell Signal:7 reports
Sheriff:Dolores: 970-677-2257
 San Miguel: 970-728-4442
Forest:San Juan
Wilderness:Lizard Head
Quad. Maps:Log In to View
Camping:On Google Maps
Eats:On Google Maps
Downloads:Log In to Download
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? (WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. All 14er routes are more difficult and more dangerous in winter.

Trailhead

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 5 miles on the 2WD dirt road to reach the signed, Kilpacker trailhead on the right.

Route

Climbing El Diente Peak and Mt. Wilson from Kilpacker has become more popular in recent years because El Diente's south slopes route is more stable than the north slopes. However, if you're planning on getting Wilson Peak along with El Diente and Mt. Wilson, it may be best to use the Navajo Basin approach instead.

From the trailhead ( 1) hike west through large meadows and into the forest - 2, 3 and 4. Hike northwest and north for 2.25 miles to reach a trail junction near 10,300' - 5. Turn right. Hike another 0.5 mile and cross Kilpacker Creek ( 6) to reach a meadow with an impressive view El Diente - 7. If you're camping , there are places to pitch a tent downhill from the meadow.

Continue northeast on the excellent trail ( 8 and 9) to 11,000' where you can see a waterfall off to your right - 10. This is a beautiful place and worth the hike, even if you don't plan on continuing higher. Pass through more trees and traverse through talus below El Diente's west ridge - 11 and 12. Near 12,200', hike past some bumps at the top of a headwall - 13. Traverse across more talus ( 14) and turn a corner to reach 12,600' on a talus run-out - 15. There should be cairns here to mark the turn-off for the El Diente Route. If you're climbing Mt. Wilson via its southwest slopes route, you won't find much of a trail as you continue east but you may find cairns.

Notes

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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