Southern Colorado 14ers: A Guide
There are twenty-four southern Colorado 14ers. They’re divided into two ranges: The large and rugged San Juans to the southwest, and the fault-block Sangre de Christo Range which rises abruptly from the valleys along it. Because these 14ers are so far from the populated Front Range, solitude is almost guaranteed on most of these peaks. Here’s an overview of these beautiful peaks and links to guide info to climb them.
RELATED READ: BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO CLIMBING 14ERS
The 14 San Juan Range 14ers
The San Juans are the larges mountain range in Colorado, covering a large area in the southwest corner of the state. You’ll find 14 high peaks here, with a range of options in terms of difficulty and other factors. They’re group in six clusters, ranging from solo peaks to groups of four. Here’s an overview of each group and peak.
The Chicago Basin Group
Nestled in the Weminuche Wilderness, the Chicago Basin includes several of the most difficult to climb southern Colorado 14ers. This, in addition to a long six-mile approach, makes them a difficult group of summits to ascend. Here’s an overview of the four peaks.
Mt. Eolus – Class 3 Climb – 6100 feet elevation gain – 17.00 miles round-trip
North Eolus – Class 3 Climb – 6000 feet elevation gain – 16.75 miles round-trip
Sunlight Peak – Class 4 Climb – 6000 feet elevation gain -17.00 miles round-trip
Windom Peak – Class 2+ Scramble – 6000 feet elevation gain -17.00 miles round-trip
The Wilson Group
The Wilson groups is a small outcropping of alpine terrain to the west of the main San Juans with three 14ers. This provides three different ways to climb and combine these peaks for endless adventures. Here are the three Wilson Group 14ers.
Wilson Peak – Class 3 Climb – 3800 feet elevation gain – 10.00 miles round-trip
El Diente Peak – Class 3 Climb – 5000 feet elevation gain – 15.00 miles round-trip
Mt Wilson – Class 4 Climb – 5100 feet elevation gain – 16.00 miles round-trip
The Handies Group
The Handies Group is home to three easy-to-climb San Juan summits. They never exceed Class 2 difficulty and are far shorter hikes than many of the San Juans deeper in wilderness areas. This also means they’re often more crowded than other southern peaks.
Handies Peak – Class 1 Hike – 2500 feet elevation gain – 5.75 miles round-trip
Redcloud Peak – Class 2 Scramble – 3700 feet elevation gain – 9.00 miles round-trip
Sunshine Peak Class – 2 Scramble – 4800 feet elevation gain -12.24 miles round-trip
The Uncompahgre Group
These two northern 14ers, Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn, each feature a single standard route that approach the peaks from opposite directions. As Class 2 and 3 routes, it’s a good area for an advanced beginner to spend a few days.
Uncompahgre Peak – Class 2 Scramble – 3000 feet elevation gain – 7.50 miles round-trip
Wetterhorn Peak – Class 3 Climb – 3300 feet elevation gain – 7.00 miles round-trip
This stand-alone peak to the northwest of the San Juans is a great introduction to Class 3 climbing. It’s a popular climb but it’s still dangerous if you don’t take time to prepare. Here’s all the details.
Mt Sneffles – Class 3 Climb – 2900 feet elevation gain – 6.00 miles round-trip
San Luis Peak
San Luis peak is a bit of a paradox. It’s a very easy Class 1 hike to the summit. However it’s also among the most isolated peaks in the state, far in the east of the San Juans far from the other 14ers, with miles of dirt roads and creek crossings to reach the trailhead. Here’s some more info.
San Luis Peak – Class 1 Hike – 3600 feet elevation gain – 13.50 miles round-trip
RELATED READ: COLORADO 14ERS RANKED BY DIFFICULTY
The 10 Sangre de Christo Range 14ers
The Sangre de Christo (blood of Christ) mountains are home to the eastern southern Colorado 14ers. They’re spread into three groups, roughly in the northern, central and southern sections of the range. The peak is traversed by few roads, and much of it is protected, making it some of the best wilderness terrain in the state. Here are the three main peak groups.
The Crestone Group
The Crestone Group, also known as the South Colony Lakes Peaks, are some of the most rugged and stunning mountains in the entire state. These five closely-group summits are clustered around the twin Crestone Peaks, with Humboldt, Challenger and Kit Carson looming nearby. This area offers everything from Class 2 scrambles to Class 5 classic alpine climbing, guarded by tourists and dayhikers by a long 6 mile approach hike. This is an area to spend a lot of time enjoying.
Crestone Peak – Class 3 Climb – 5700 feet elevation gain – 14.00 miles
Crestone Needle – Class 3 Climb – 4400 feet elevation gain – 12.00 miles
Humboldt Peak – Class 2 Climb – 4200 feet elevation gain – 11.00 miles
Challenger Point – Class 2 Scramble – 5400 feet elevation gain – 12.50 miles
Kit Karson Peak – Class 3 Climb – 6250 feet elevation gain – 14.50 miles
The Blanca Group
The Blanca group’s name comes from its highest point and central massif, Blanca Peak. It’s the tallest of the southern Colorado 14ers. Rising high above the San Luis Valley, these routes include massive elevation gain and are long, hard climbs. Enjoy the solitude and feeling of accomplishment that result at the summit! Little Bear is especially notorious for its Hourglass – be prepared!
Blanca Peak – Class 2 Scramble – 6500 feet elevation gain – 17.00 miles
Ellingwood Point – Class 2 Scramble – 6200 feet elevation gain -17.00 miles
Little Bear Peak – Class 4 Climb – 6200 feet elevation gain – 14.00 miles
Mt Lindsey – Class 3 Climb – 3500 feet elevation gain – 8.25 miles
Culebra is the sole 14er of this small sub-range of the Sangres. It has the claim to being the only privately owned 14er in the country, for better or worse. On the one hand, you’ll need to pay the Ranch owners $150 or so to ascend it. On the other hand, you’ll get solitude and a pristine, off-trail experience.
Culebra Peak – Class 2 Scramble – 2700 feet elevation gain – 5.00 miles
The Southern Colorado 14ers
The San Juans and Sangre de Christo ranges offer something for everyone. From Class 1 hikes to Class 5 technical climbing, they have it all. Head down to the southern Colorado 14ers and get your adventure on!
Alex 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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