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Mt. Wilson
standard North Slopes
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Difficulty:
 Class 4 
Risk Factors:Exposure: High
Rockfall Potential: High  
Route-Finding: High  
Commitment: Considerable  
 
Trailhead:Navajo Lake
Start:9,350 feet
Summit:14,246 feet
Total Gain:From Rock of Ages TH: 5,300 feet
From Navajo Basin TH: 5,100 feet
From Navajo Lake: 3,200 feet
From 12,300' in Navajo Basin: 2,000 feet
RT Length:From Rock of Ages TH: 11 miles
From Navajo Basin TH: 16 miles
From Navajo Lake: 6.5 miles
From 12,300' in Navajo Basin: 2.25 miles
Duration:User Climb Times
Author:BillMiddlebrook
Updated:8/2020
Weather:NOAA Forecast
Conditions:153 reports
Cell Signal:7 reports
Sheriff:Dolores: 970-677-2257
 San Miguel: 970-728-4442
Forests:San Juan, Uncompahgre
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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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 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.

Route

From the Rock of Ages trailhead:
Follow the Rock of Ages Approach to Rock of Ages saddle. On saddle, Mt. Wilson comes into view to the south - 1 and 2. Leave the saddle and follow the trail south down to the upper end of Navajo Basin.

From the Navajo Basin trailhead:
Follow the Navajo Basin Approach toward the upper east end of Navajo Basin - 3. Near 12,200', the end of the basin and the turn-off to Mt. Wilson is finally visible - 4.

Near 12,300' and just above the stream, leave the trail and descend to the bottom of the basin to reach the base of a shoulder that stretches up to Mt. Wilson's northeast ridge - 5, 6 and 7. Cross the stream and begin the hike south up onto the shoulder .

The hiking is relatively easy and there are some trail segments and cairns along the way - 8 and 9. Near 13,400', reach a large buttress - 10. If the area is free of snow, you'll the rocks on the buttress are covered with green lichen. The easiest way to gain the buttress is to climb directly up its flat face. Reach easier terrain just above 13,500' and continue up the shoulder. 11 looks back on the route from this area.

The northeast ridge is above but don't climb to the ridge just yet. Climb a bit higher and begin an ascending traverse over rock ribs and possibly snow fields. Look carefully for small cairns that lead across this rugged slope. If you climb too high, crossing the rock ribs becomes more difficult and will involve Class 3 and 4 moves. It's helpful to study the maps and photos before crossing this area. 12 is a view of El Diente Peak during the ascent. Continue crossing the rock ribs and gullies while gaining some elevation along the way - 13, 14 and 15. Near 14,100', reach your final gully and climb the upper portion to reach the northeast ridge - 16 and 17.

The remaining route involves some Class 3 scrambling and a few Class 4 moves on the summit ridge - 18. Continue right to a notch, turn left and follow the narrow ridge toward the summit - 19. Just prior to the summit, you will finally reach the crux of the climb - a set of rocks which block easy passage - 20 and 21. Climbing to the left is the easiest way around the difficult section to the right requires an exposed Class 4 move which may be uncomfortable for some climbers. After passing the crux, scramble a short distance to the summit - 22, 23 and and 24.

Notes

Route finding above 13,600' takes some time. Be careful not to gain the northeast ridge too soon. 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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