Telluride Peak Ascents – The San Juan Mountains

Home to over a dozen peaks over 14,000 feet, and 300 peaks over 13,000 feet, the rugged and beautiful San Juans are undoubtedly the finest range in the state for mountaineering. Our location grants us unparalleled access to many of these famed Telluride Peak Ascents.

Register - Peak Ascent - Telluride Area Register - Multi-Day Peak Ascent
Register - Mt. Wilson - El Diente Traverse in a Day

Join us for a foray into the wild or allow us to help you achieve your goals of climbing technical 13ers and 14ers. If you have been eyeing a particular Telluride peak ascent or summit on our skyline, we can help you get there. Those who choose to join us on larger expeditions to the seven summits often pay us a visit in Telluride for a boost of elevation training and to practice their mountaineering skills. Our local guides lead trips for us all around the world, and your group will be in very experienced hands.

If you are unfamiliar with the route you’d like to book, please call our office at +1-970-369-1153 for additional information to assure you are prepared for your trip.

Mountain Trip is permitted by the US Forest Service to guide on the Wilson massif (Mt. Wilson, Wilson Peak and El Diente). Additionally, we offer trips up a number of the Centennial 13ers (the 100 highest peaks in Colorado), including Dallas, Vermillion and Gladstone Peaks. Also in our backyard is Lizard Head Peak, known as Colorado’s hardest peak, which requires 5th class rock climbing to reach its 13,113′ summit.


Summiting Wilson Peak via the Rock of Ages Route

Peak ascents require at minimum a full day’s effort.  During the summer season, we start before sunrise to beat the thunderstorms that often roll through the mountains in the afternoon. This ensures us a better chance at making the summit.  Many of these peaks can be linked together in a longer trip, offering a great deal of time in the alpine above treeline with expansive views of the surrounding areas. Ask us about our options for overnight backpacking trips to create a longer adventure out of your peak ascent trip.

Wilson Peak – 14,017′

Wilson Peak, perhaps the commanding point on the skyline when viewed from Mountain Village or Telluride Ski Resort, stands as the highest point in San Miguel County. The aesthetic summit pyramid offers unrivaled views of the surrounding peaks and far out into the Abajo and La Sal ranges of Utah, and down towards Telluride far below.  Typically we offer ascents of Wilson Peak via the Rock of Ages route, an approximately 10 mile out-and-back route with 3,800’ of elevation gain. The route begins on a singletrack trail below treeline and winds its way, gradually gaining elevation, until a final push up to the Rock of Ages saddle. From here you will continue up onward, through a col joining to nearby Gladstone Peak, managing loose rock to reach the airy 3rd class (and sections of what feel like 4th class) climbing that will lead you to the summit ridge.

At Mountain Trip our hearts lie in the remote and pristine areas of the world and we are happy to also offer a less-traveled approach to this iconic Colorado peak via Bilk Creek basin for those looking for a challenge with almost guaranteed solitude. This ascent rises just over 4,000’ from the trailhead making for a full, but manageable, day out in the mountains. On this route, we will weave through green meadows, cross the flowing Bilk Creek, and pass many scenic waterfalls.  We then follow the creek to its headwaters above timberline and below Wilson Peak’s southeast flanks.  After scrambling up to just over 13,000ft to gain the SW ridge, we will join the Rock of Ages route mentioned above.

Ask us about options to link with other peaks in the Wilson Group and about our two-day ascent options.

Options – For a classic multi-day trip we can establish a high camp and also climb Mount Wilson or Gladstone Peak. This option offers a remote feel and can be combined with a gorgeous trek ending on Lizard Head Pass.

(We can also arrange other approaches to this amazing peak, including the more regularly traveled Navajo Lake and Rock of Ages Saddle approaches.  Please inquire about any option in which you might have interest.)


Fun Fact: As one of the most iconic peaks in Colorado, Wilson Peak is famous not only for being visually impressive, but it is also the peak Adolf Coors chose to represent his beer in 1873 and is now present on all its labels.


Dallas Peak – 13,809′ (East Face 5th Class)

This is a Telluride gem that has a commanding presence over the Telluride valley below. It is the 100th highest peak in the Colorado centennials.  This peak ascent offers a good taste of low 5th class climbing, an exhilarating rappel off the summit block and great views of the Wilson Massif to the south and Mount Sneffels to the north.

Like any big peak ascent our day will start early and begins on a well established trail weaving through the lower meadows before reaching timberline, where we will put on helmets and harnesses and head into the alpine terrain above.  The technical climbing happens high on the peak and continues to the summit block offering amazing exposure and great rock when the climbing gets steeper.  After taking in the view, we will head down via a rappel station perched atop the magnificent summit and continue back down into the meadows below.  Though this trip has some technical climbing, it is a great option for a variety of ability levels.


Lizard Head Peak – 13,113′ (SW Chimney, 5.8)

Lizard Head has the reputation of being Colorado’s hardest summit, and reaching it involves 3-4 long pitches of technical climbing.  The crux is below the actual summit and is rated 5.8, although that section is fairly short.  Prospective Lizard Head summitters must have previous climbing experience.  This route is a great next step after climbing Dallas Peak or after a day or two of rock climbing on the Pipeline or Ophir walls!

Like our other peak ascents we will start early to get a jump on the day and head up a well established trail towards the towering summit of Lizard Head. After leaving the trail we will head up some 3rd class scrambling to the base of the SW Chimney route. After ascending the first long pitch we will do an easier traversing pitch to the base of the final pitch and technical crux of the route. After a bit of steep wide climbing the terrain eases to more moderate 5 fun climbing to the top and incredible views of surrounding peaks including Mount Wilson, El Diente and Wilson Peak to the west. After 2 rappels and some down climbing we will arrive back at the start of the route and head back down into the forest and back to Telluride.

Mount Wilson El Diente Traverse (5th class)

Our longest and most difficult one-day ascent, this iconic traverse rewards mountaineers with two classic summits and over a mile of ridge traversing above 13,500′!  The crux comes at a feature called the Organ Pipes just before hitting your second summit, El Diente.  We then descend El Diente and head back into the trees and hike out. This is a very long one-day effort and is occasionally done in 2 days.  Either way, we will need to get an early start from camp as most of the day is spent above timber line we will want to beat any afternoon weather. Please note that we pay our guides significantly more for a one day Traverse, and the experienced is priced commensurately

Other Guided Peak Ascents with Mountain Trip:

Gladstone-       13,913ft

Vermillion-        13,894′

Golden Horn-    13,765′

Pilot Knob-        13,738′

US Grant Peak- 13,767′

Mount Emma-    13,581′

And many more… inquire for details!

Mount Wilson – 14,250′ (4th class)

Only 1.5 miles away from neighboring Wilson Peak as the crow flies, lies the tallest summit in the Wilson group – Mount Wilson. It is a bulky mountain with a classic ridge extending west towards El Diente. The typical approach is via the Killpacker trailhead, which allows access to both Mount Wilson and El Diente’s normal routes, as well as the classic Wilson – El Diente traverse.  An interesting approach is via the less traveled Bilk Creek Basin, climbing up and over a saddle to gain access to the peak.

Mount Wilson can be climbed in a day, and although the climbing is never too technical, the endeavor makes for a very, very long day with some loose scrambling and requires an early morning start.  This peak can also be climbed in conjunction with Wilson Peak from Navajo Lakes.  If using this approach, one can also make for the “San Juan Trilogy,” of Wilson, Mount Wilson, and El Diente in one epic trip.


El Diente – 14,159′ (3rd class)

El Diente is the lowest peak of the Wilson group and only allows access to its summit via some exposed climbing with tricky route-finding.  As you climb closer towards the summit, your efforts are rewarded with expansive views of Lizard Head Peak, the Wilsons, and out into the La Sal and Abajo peaks of Utah. This climb can be done in one long day, but generally requires an early start so that we can get off the summit before afternoon weather has a chance to build.


Mount Wilson El Diente Traverse (5th class)

One of our longest and most difficult ascents, this iconic traverse rewards mountaineers with two classic summits and over a mile of ridge traversing above 13,500′!  The crux comes at a feature called the Organ Pipes just before hitting your second summit, El Diente.  We then descend El Diente and head back into the trees and hike out. This is a very long one-day effort and is often done in 2 days.  Either way, we will need to get an early start from camp as most of the day is spent above timber line we will want to beat any afternoon weather. Please note that we pay our guides significantly more for a one day Traverse, and the experienced is priced commensurately.

The following is a general list of required gear for day climbs in Colorado with Mountain Trip.  Climbers joining us on multi-day ascents will receive a specific equipment list via email.

Many of the items on the list need to fit you well in order for you to fully enjoy your experience on the trail. Please plan ahead with clothing and footwear purchased for your hike so you can be certain that your gear fits you well.  Descending from the top of Wilson Peak is not the place to discover that your old rain coat is no longer waterproof, or that your boots give you blisters.

Recommended items reflect the opinions of our guides.  We have used and have faith in all of our recommendations, but they may not necessarily fit or work for you.

Call or email us with any gear questions. We want you to be as prepared as possible for your adventure.

Please follow this list closely and do not hesitate to call us for clarifications or to solicit an opinion about anything you are considering. There is a good selection of gear available in Telluride, but if you plan to purchase items from local shops, please plan ahead and order any items that are size specific.

Print Equipment


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Trekking SocksMost trekkers prefer a light to medium weight, wool or wool/synthetic blend sock for use with trekking shoes. For longer treks bring a pair to change into every 2-3 days.
Trekking Shoes or Boots for ColoradoComfortable, well broken in trekking shoes or lightweight boots will work for approaching climbs, the Telluride Via Ferrata or climbing 14ers. Good traction is important for all of the above. Contact our office for more detailed advice!

Torso Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Light Fleece HoodyLight/mid weight fleece (or wool) top with a hood. You will wear this over your light weight base layer.
“Puffy” Light Insulated JacketSize this layer to fit over your light fleece hoody and wind shell, and it is often layered underneath your expedition parka. Synthetic is easier to deal with and not worry about getting wet than a similar down filled layer. A hood on this layer in mandatory! *** Guides Tip! Use two lightweight puffy layers in the early season or if you are worried about being cold. A Micro or Nano Puff jacket with a Ultra Light Down Jacket or Vest allows versatile layering options.
“T” or Sun ShirtSynthetic or synthetic/cotton blend shirts are nice for hiding from the sun. Long sleeve "sun hoodies" are becoming increasingly popular, as they provide a high level of sun protection. Other people favor ventilated, button up shirts- either long or short-sleeved. Whatever you choose, consider it as part of your system, and try it out before your trip.
Rain Jacket for ColoradoA rain shell can be your most important layer as we often experience afternoon showers during the summer months in Colorado. It should be packable and in good working order meaning that, in addition to being waterproof, it still has a functional water repellent finish and beads water on the surface of the fabric.
Sun Hoody (optional)A Sun Hoody is a great lightweight layer to help protect you from the intense UV at high altitude. It's a go-to layer for our guides, as it both keeps the sun off your skin and helps keeps you cool. Highly recommended, but **OPTIONAL

Leg Layers

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Lightweight Softshell Trekking PantsA lightweight synthetic softshell pant is a great layer that you'll wear every day on a trek or for an ascent of a peak. These are water resistant, breathable and comfortable in a wide range of weather and temps.

Head and Hands

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Buff Neck GaiterBuff is a brand of light weight neck gaiters that have grown to become a staple of every guide's kit. These are amazingly versatile, and can be worn as a hat, a neck gaiter or pulled over your face for protection from the wind or sun. They come in many thicknesses nowadays, but we prefer the original weight for its versatility.
Warm HatBring one warm hat or two hats of different weights. Wool or fleece are fine, but your hat must provide ear protection from the cold.
Sun HatBaseball type or wide brimmed sun hats are required for protection against the intense sunshine found on many peaks. You can combine a baseball hat with a BUFF for good sun protection or go for a wide brimmed version to protect your face, ears and neck.
SunglassesSunglasses are essential in the mountains. Choose a pair that are comfortable and provide 100% UVA and UVB protection.

Packs and Duffels

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Climbing PackSuitable climbing packs will be 30 - 45 liters in volume and have the capability of easily attaching crampons, and ice axes if used for a day of ice climbing or if needed for a peak ascent. For a day climbs, any pack in the 30 - 45 liter range will work, but we recommend that you consider the weight of the pack carefully. Overnight, alpine routes require larger (45L) packs that also let you strap your sleeping pad to the outside.

Climbing Gear

GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Alpine Climbing HarnessYour harness should be adjustable enough to accommodate several layers of clothing. As with most items on this list, choose a light weight harness.
Climbing HarnessAn aspect of technical climbing is hanging in a harness. Having a padded, comfortable harness will make you much happier than will a thinly padded, alpine harness, and, should you find yourself at a semi hanging belay, your legs are less likely to fall asleep from lack of circulation.
Carabiners2 locking carabiners and 2 non-locking carabiners. (4 total)
Trekking Poles(Lightweight)Trekking poles can be helpful for long days on the trail and help take some strain off of aching joints going downhill! These are typically lighter weight than a ski pole, and have a smaller basket as you don't use them in deep snow.


GearDescriptionGuide's Pick
Stuff SacksWe are fans of the very light stiff sacks made from Sil Nylon fabric. Bring enough for your clothes and personal items. Light, zippered stuff bags are really nice for toiletries.
Several Good Jokes!"A Moose walks into a bar..."
Lip BalmBring a tube of quality lip balm with sun protection (SPF).
Water BottlesThe ability to carry 2 liters of water will help you stay hydrated throughout the day.
SunscreenThe sun can be intense in Colorado, so please apply high SPF sunscreen prior to your trip and bring a small tube along to reapply during the day.
HeadlampBring an extra set of batteries, as well. Lithium batteries work the best in cold weather!! For some trips (Carstensz, Everest, Cho Oyu) where we will be frequently climbing at night a second headlamp is a good idea, and always bring extra batteries!
Snacks and Lunch FoodPack enough food for snacking while on the skin track, in-between rock pitches or on the trail in the summer. We recommend a combination of energy bars, dried fruit and nuts and/or a sandwich. Bring something that you like to eat!

Refunds and Cancellations

Mountain Trip recognizes how difficult and disappointing it can be for guests who must cancel trips. Guests must also recognize that, due to the nature of planning trips and contracting guides for specific dates, Mountain Trip also accrues significant expenses in organizing our excursions. We must therefore adhere to a strict refund policy for all guests.

Trip cancellation and travel insurance is generally available for all excursions. U.S. and Canadian residents should contact us for more information regarding travel insurance. Our refund and cancellation policy is outlined below.

We require 100% payment at the time of booking and at least 72 hours notice for cancellations and rescheduling of activities.

• We are happy to work with you to reschedule to a new date or if you need to cancel entirely we will provide a full refund with a minimum of 72 hours notice.  If you cancel inside of 72 hours ahead of your trip departure, or do not show up, you will not be refunded, and will have to reschedule by paying full price.

• All requests for refunds must be made in writing and received in our Colorado office.  No refunds will be provided for cancellations occurring within the last 3 days prior to the scheduled date of your trip.

• Mountain Trip reserves the right to cancel a trip prior to the departure date for any reason. In such an event, all monies collected by Mountain Trip from trip participants shall be promptly refunded. This is the extent of our financial liability.

Weather Cancellations

Mountain weather is extremely variable and hard to read. As skilled mountaineers, our guides have extensive experience reading these unusual weather patterns. Because of this, we ask that you allow your guide to make any and all weather-related decisions for your trip on the morning it is scheduled. 

We do not cancel trips due to rain. Rather, we read the weather for the possible risks it could cause, such as rock fall or lightning, which makes it all the more important that you defer to your guide in these situations.

Inclusions and Exclusions

Included in the Trip Fee:

• Unlimited pre-trip access to our office resources

• Guidance of our experienced Mountain Trip guides

• Breakfast and dinners are provided for all overnight trekking trips and peak ascents, while we are in the field

• All necessary protective equipment for the trip (harness, climbing helmet, via ferrata rig, ice axe, crampons, etc)

• Assistance arranging for post-trip activities in the area

Not Included in the Trip Fee:

• Travel to and from SW Colorado

• Personal clothing and equipment per our equipment list (please, just ask us if you need anything!)

• Meals beyond those mentioned above

• Accommodation in Colorado

• Travel and/or rescue insurance (The COSAR card is an inexpensive way to reimburse local rescue groups for costs incurred during a rescue in Colorado – for more information, click HERE)

• Costs incurred due to evacuation or unplanned departure from the climbing area due to illness or other problems

• Costs incurred as a result of delays beyond the control of Mountain Trip

• Customary gratuities for guides

• Costs as a result of force majeure

General Agreement Concerning Services to be Provided And Responsibilities of Team Members

When registering for an outing with Mountain Trip we want to help make sure you understand the services we are providing and the services you are responsible for.

Transportation is incidental

The main purpose of becoming a team member is to join us on a climb in the mountains. As such any transportation we provide or that you may contract for on your own is incidental to the trip. We suggest that you make sure you have time built into your itinerary for delays.

Transportation to and from your destination

We will designate a specific Team Meeting Day for your climb. Transportation to the meeting point on your Team Meeting Day is to be provided by you, unless otherwise arranged with Mountain Trip. You must arrive in time to be ready to participate in a team meeting at the appointed time on the Team Meeting Day for your climb. This could mean you will need to arrive the day before, as it is often prudent to get an early start in the morning.  Climbing and trekking can be very dynamic and we will provide you with a recommendation as to when you should book your flights to and from your destination or how you might best arrange your travel to SW Colorado. If flying, we suggest you book a ticket that allows you to change your flight with little effort or cost.


Responsibilities of Team Members

You are ultimately responsible for your own well-being, including making all necessary preparations to ensure good health and physical conditioning. You are responsible for understanding the conditions that may exist on the excursion and choosing an excursion that is appropriate for your abilities and interests. You are responsible for having knowledge of all pre-departure information and for assembling the appropriate clothing and equipment for your excursion.

While on the trip, team members are responsible to maintain basic levels of hygiene and to conduct themselves respectfully with other team members and members of the local population. If a guide feels that a team member is putting other members’ health or safety at risk, the guide has the discretion to remove a team member from an excursion.

Use our office staff and your lead guide as pre-trip resources to ensure that all your questions are answered. Travel insurance may help recoup expenses if you need to leave a climb due to an illness.

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