El Diente Peak - North Slopes
Climbing mountains is dangerous! Please read the Mountaineering Safety Page and make sure you have a map+compass and can use them effectively. A GPS or cell phone can be very helpful with navigation but you should still be able to use a map+compass in case your device stops working.
(WINTER) HOLD ON! If you don't have much high-elevation, winter climbing experience, be careful in your planning and take a partner. Even the "easy" 14ers (Quandary, Sherman, Grays & Torreys) can be deadly in winter.
|Difficulty:|| Class 3 |
|Total Gain:||From 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 Length:||From 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
|USGS Quad.:||Dolores Peak|
|County Sheriff:||Dolores: 970-677-2257
| ||San Miguel: 970-728-4442
|National Forest:||San Juan|
|Wilderness Area:||Lizard Head|
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 -Photo #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 - Photo #3.
Photo #1 is the view of the route from Wilson Peak. Taken near 12,100', Photo #4 and Photo #5 are direct views of El Diente's north slope route. The route up the north slope uses a long couloir which ends just below the ridge. The upper half of the couloir becomes steeper and is both safer and easier to climb with stable snow coverage. Without snow, rockfall danger is high in the couloir. From the center of the basin, hike south toward the bottom of the couloir and up on to the rock/snow apron at the base. Hike up Difficult Class 2 terrain to reach the open area below the couloir ( 37.84439° N, -108.00188° W) - Photo #6. Above 12,500', the terrain gets slightly steeper and the couloir above becomes quite obvious - Photo #7.
Continue above 13,000' and into the defined couloir - Photo #8. Above 13,200', the couloir steepens to a sustained pitch where rock-fall danger is of concern. With snow, crampons are required. Keep climbing (Photo #9 and Photo #10) until you are just a couple of hundred feet below a headwall that terminates the couloir - Photo #11. Near 13,650' and just below the headwall ( 37.83975° N, -108.00054° W), turn right (west) to see a rock/snow ramp that leads to the summit ridge - Photo #12 and Photo #13. Scramble up the ramp (Photo #14), turn left and continue to a small saddle on the ridge crest ( 37.83918° N, -108.00143° W) - Photo #15.
From the saddle, the easiest route goes around to the south side of the ridge - not along the ridge crest. Continue around the south side of the ridge on loose, gray rock (Photo #16) to reach the next section of the route - Photo #17. After crossing the gray rock, the route is about 100' below the ridge crest and the "Organ Pipes" (a section of tall, smooth rocks) are up to your right - Photo #18. 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 - Photo #19. Scramble through this area and continue toward the base of a small gully which leads back to the ridge - Photo #20. Enter the gully and ascend (Photo #21, Photo #22 and Photo #23) to a small notch ( 37.83923° N, -108.00418° W) on the ridge.
Cross to the north side of the ridge and turn left to see the next section of the route - Photo #24. Climb onto some rocks and soon the route becomes more obvious - Photo #25. Your next task is to traverse along the side of the ridge to reach the small notch seen in Photo #26. Drop a bit and scramble over to easier terrain just below the notch - Photo #27. Climb into the notch (Photo #28) to finally see the end of the route - Photo #29. Drop a few feet into a dirt gully and scramble up to the summit ( 37.839275° N, -108.005219° W) - Photo #30, Photo #31 and Photo #32.
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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