Best Mountaineering in Colorado
Trying to find the best mountaineering in Colorado? Bivy has great hiking, biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, riding and more, with hand-curated trail maps, as well as detailed driving directions.
Colorado, Dolores County
19 :40 hrs
This route summits two of Colorado's fourteeners. It begins at the Navajo Lake Trailhead and climbs up to Navajo Lake and Basin. From the basin head up the north face of Mount Wilson. Once you summit Wilson it is a long traverse along the ridge to El Diente. Plan on a few hours to navigate across. The traverse requires some class 4 moves with a 60-foot rappel to bypass some easy but very exposed downclimbing.
Colorado, Custer County
05 :50 hrs
Crestone Needle lies in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Range. It is among Colorado's fourteeners. It is a rugged and thrilling peak to summit. This is a classic route that has been enjoyed by climbers since 1916. The conglomerate rock is solid and fun to climb. The route begins at the South Colony Lakes Trailhead. Once you reach the upper lake, the first Class 5 pitch begins and is pretty straightforward and simple. Once above the Arete there is some class 4 ledges, continue up to the more difficult climbing just below the summit. The final pitch is 5.7. Bring a standard alpine rack to 2” and hand sized hexes are useful. Plan on a full day to complete this route. Use the standard South Gully route for a descent.
Colorado, Pitkin County
16 :09 hrs
The Maroon Peaks are rugged and technical fourteeners to climb. This route summits Maroon Peak and then traverses along the ridge to North Maroon Peak. Follow the summer trail up the south ridge to reach Maroon Peak. From Maroon Peak to North Maroon Peak traverse the ridge which will involve extreme exposure on both sides through loose talus and cliff ledges. There are 3 technical spires to overcome. It is mostly class 3 and 4 climbing with a few class 5 moves. Experienced route finding is a must. There are several routes to choose up the technical areas. The rock is very loose so test every hold. You can descend down the summer hiking trail or back track across the ridge.
Colorado, Custer County
06 :04 hrs
Crestone Needle lies in the heart of the Sangre de Cristo Range. This route begins at the South Colony Trailhead. The approach is right next to the near the popular Ellingwood Arete route. Once at the west end of the lake scramble up the face using the cliff bands. The crux of this climb is in the cracklike couloir 800 ft. south of the Ellingwood Arete. This is a 500 foot couloir climb rated 5.8 with both snow and rock climbing. It leads to a notch where you have the option to climb to the summit or descend down the standard south face route.
Colorado, Ouray County
05 :58 hrs
Mt. Sneffels is one of Colorado's 14ers. It is known for its excellent scenery and rugged terrain. This route is a classic variation from the standard approach and is more technical. Driving all the way to the trailhead requires a capable 4WD vehicle. You can park lower and hike the road if needed. A helmet is recommended as you will be scrambling over loose sharp rock. Most of the scrambling is class 2 with some class 3 climbing.
Colorado, La Plata County
20 :40 hrs
Sunlight Peak is one of Colorado's 14ers and is a rugged peak that is part of a threesome of 14ers reached through Chicago Basin. You will need to take the train from Durango to Needleton to reach the base camp at Chicago Basin. The hike to Chicago Basin is easy and offers beautiful scenery. From the basin climb north to Twin Lakes then heading east to the saddle between Sunlight and Windom Peaks. Continue east toward a gully that separates Sunlight and “Sunlight Spire”. The remaining route involves Class 3 climbing. You will find a key hole in the ridge that you can pass through to reach the summit. The final summit pitch is very exposed with class 4 moves across a gap. There is only room for 2 people on the summit block.
Colorado, La Plata County
20 :23 hrs
Sunlight Spire is located just east of Sunlight Peak and is recorded just below the 14,000 ft mark. It is not considered a true fourteener but is probably the most difficult of the fourteeners to summit in Colorado. To reach the approach or base camp, take the train from Durango to Needleton. The hike to the basin is scenic and easy. From the basin climb north to Twin Lakes then heading east to the saddle between Sunlight Peak and Sunlight Spire. Scramble southeast across the rocky ledge of class 3 moves. From here you'll have a good look at the spire and crack, but you need to rappel or downclimb a class 5.4 to the grassy ledge which will be your belay stance. There are many anchor possiblities here. The pitch from the belay stance to the summit is 85 feet long. It is 45 feet to the upper spire, climbing a 5.7 climb in this section. From here the vertical 40-foot crack to the summit is above you. Some climbers have rated the moves no harder than 5.9 while others stating it as difficult as 5.10D. The final move to the summit block is tricky but there is room on top to sit comfortably. The crack is really rough so tape is a good idea. There is a fixed anchor on top for rappelling to the base. Bring a standard rack up to #3 cams and medium to large nuts.
Colorado, Pitkin County
06 :29 hrs
Maroon Peak is a rugged and challenging fourteener to summit. The Bell Cord Couloir route is the prominent couloir between Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. You have an excellent view of it from Maroon Lake. It is best done in winter or early spring-June. By July it is more like a rubble/ice mixture. Begin at the summer trailhead at Maroon Lake and make your way to the couloir and up to the saddle between the two peaks. The couloir is 1,800 with the steepest areas exceeding 45 degrees. An ice Axe and crampons are a must. From the saddle turn left or south and scramble up the technical and exposed ledges to the summit.
Colorado, Saguache County
15 :17 hrs
Kit Carson Peak is Colorado's 23rd highest mountain and one of the fourteeners. There are multiple routes to the summit with this following the north ridge from Willow Lake. Begin at the Willow and South Crestone Trailhead up to Willow Lake. Hike along the north side of the lake to the east end and up to the bottom of the north ridge of Kit Carson. Climbing from here requires some navigating and is mostly class 3 with some class 4 sections. Be sure when grabbing hand holds to test every hold as they have been known to come loose.
Colorado, Larimer County
10 :51 hrs
Long's Peak is one of Colorado's most popular fourteener peaks. The Kiener route is a classic mountaineering adventure. It is named after Walter Kiener who first climbed the route in 1924 and ended up losing his best friend, his fingers and toes to frost bite. It is a mixed climb of ice/snow and rock. Begin at the standard Long's Peak trailhead up to Chasm Lake and the base of the east face. Mills Glacier is a permanent glacier located at the base of the east face. Head up Lambs slide which is a couloir along the southwest side of the east face. This couloir is very prone to avalanches in early June. The snow turns to ice by August. Once at the top of Lambs slide traverse right along exposed ledges. Many people rope up here with low 5.1 climbing. There are a couple of pitches with mixed climbing. The most difficult climb is rated 5.4. Descend down the north face also known as the cables where there are rappel bolts. You could also descend the keyhole hiking route but this is long. Bring an ice axe, crampons, light rack, long rope, runners, slings and be prepared for quickly approaching storms.
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