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climbing mount wilson

Climbing Mount Wilson | 14er Route Info, Map & Advice

Mount Wilson and its neighbors are some of the most rugged and dangerous peaks in the San Juan range. Many people have been injured or killed due to the significant exposure and rockfall while climbing Mount Wilson. Wait to conquer the Mount Wilson route until you’ve tackled some easier 14ers and gained some experience. The reward for the risk is an adventurous climb that often involves a mix of snow and rock climbing late into the summer. Take your time on this mountain, and be ready for the risk. Plan your climb up Mount Wilson with my free route guide below.


Climbing Mount Wilson: Fast Facts

Climbing Mount Wilson - North Slopes Route

The best route description for those climbing Mount Wilson is available at With lots of photos and details about the route, I highly recommend taking some time to research it before you climb.

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Mt Wilson Route Map

Bring a topographical map with you while climbing Mount Wilson to help you navigate and stay on route. You can download this map on your phone or print out a copy to bring with you on your climb. Always bring some hardcopy map in case your digital version fails or breaks.

Use these two sources to check the weather conditions before climbing Mount Wilson. Consider the temperature high and low, wind speed, precipitation, and whether there are any storm systems on the horizon to be aware of.

Mountain Forecast for Mt Wilson

Below is the complete National Weather Service forecast for those climbing Mount Wilson. I recommend reviewing it thoroughly before your climb.


Climbing Mount Wilson is a serious undertaking, requiring special gear to help you succeed and stay safe along the way. Here are some of my top recommendations. 

First, you will need a good pair of hiking boots. I recommend one of these boots specifically. They have good traction to grip slick rock and snow, and their ankle support reduces your chances of spraining or twisting your ankle. Make sure you take time to break in your boots before climbing Mount Wilson.

You will also need a backpack to carry food, water, and the other ten essentials with you on your journey. These backpacks have the right capacity and quality to help you reach the summit without breaking your back. Don’t forget to fill your bag with the ten essentials.

Climbing Mount Wilson involves a serious risk of rockfall, making a climbing helmet essential for your safety. There are many good options on the market, but I recommend one of these four helmets for 14ers like this one.

Lastly, you need to bring a map with you to help navigate. While many people just print out a map online, I recommend investing in something better. These maps and route guides are sturdier and show more info than a printed map. Even better, you can buy a personal locator beacon, GPS unit, or satellite messenger, which are the best navigation and emergency device of them all.

Camping near Wilson Peak:

There are also many dispersed camping opportunities along forest roads near the trailhead ideal for those climbing Wilson Peak. Learn more about dispersed camping near 14ers here.

Lodging near Wilson Peak:

There are many cabins available via Airbnb and other services in Telluride and Ridgway, perfect for those climbing Wilson Peak.

The area around Mount Wilson is beautiful, one of the most spectacular regions in the entire state. Practicing Leave No Trace ethics while climbing Mount Wilson will help you preserve this mountain for future generations. These practices include:

  • Plan ahead, review the route and pick a weekday or day in September to hike.
  • Stay on the trail, and keep dogs leashed on and off-trail to reduce trampling of alpine grass.
  • Leave your Bluetooth speaker at home and let nature’s sound reign.
  • Urinate off trail, and pack out your waste – a cathole won’t work at high altitude.
  • Give wildlife a wide berth – 100 meters if possible. If they approach, back up to keep space.
  • Take nothing but pictures, and leave nothing but footprints.

Safe travels, and good luck climbing Mount Wilson!

Mount Wilson is named after A.D. Wilson, the chief topographer with the Hayden Survey. Wilson Peak is also named after him.

Hiking & climbing 14ers is an inherently high-risk activity – do so at your own risk, and use the following best practices to help keep yourself safe.

  1. Research your route and bring a compass & topographic map.
  2. Check the weather forecast and stay home during inclement weather.
  3. Bring the Ten Essentials and the knowledge/skill to use them.
  4. Leave your plans with someone back home along with a detailed itinerary.
  5. Start early, and end early: Be back at tree line by noon to avoid lightning.
  6. Bring a buddy on your first ascent, preferably someone experienced.


Climbing Mount Wilson and other mountains, scrambling and climbing up Colorado’s high peaks are inherently high-risk, dangerous activities. There is a significant risk of injury or death, even with proper planning and experience. Those using my guide accept all risks associated with climbing 14ers and do not hold this website or any information they obtain from it liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while engaging in these activities on Colorado’s high peaks. It is each hiker or climber’s responsibility to research their route carefully, bring the ten essentials, and practice other safe practices, though even these precautions do not eliminate risk and danger. Visit these summits at your own risk.

The mountains are calling: They need our help

Become a member to support leave no trace and outdoor safety education to protect the peaks and those who climb them across the American West.

Notice: The material presented in this route guide may not be comprehensive or precise and should not be solely relied upon when planning your climb. Inadequate experience, physical fitness, supplies, or equipment may result in injury or fatality.

The Next Summit and the author(s) of this hiking guide offer no guarantees, neither explicit nor implied, regarding the accuracy or dependability of the information provided.

By utilizing the information herein, you agree to indemnify and absolve The Next Summit and the hiking guide author(s) from any claims and demands against them, including any legal fees and expenses. 

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Alex Derr, Founder of The Next Summit

Alex Derr is an Eagle Scout, climber, and environmental policy expert located in Denver, Colorado. He created The Next Summit to help others stay safe exploring the mountains and advocate to preserve the peaks for the future. Follow him on Linkedin or Twitter or click here to contact him.

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In 2018, I watched in disbelief as dozens of people hiked into a storm on Longs Peak, unaware of the extreme danger. Soon after, I started The Next Summit to educate and empower the public to safely and responsibly explore America's mountains.

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