A summer of Colorado Traverses

Diente-Wilson Traverse from Wilson
Diente-Wilson Traverse from Wilson

Colorado has 4 so-called Great Traverses: the Maroon Bells, check Little Bear to Blanca, Crestone Needle to Peak and the ridge connecting El Diente to Mt. Wilson. With the Bells completed a few years ago, this summer, I added two more to my list.

Traverses are special climbs in that you usually climb to the summit of one peak and take a more or less direct route across a connecting ridge to another high peak. In these cases all the peaks are above 14,000′ or a 14er in Colorado parlance.

They usually involved more difficult climbing moving into the high class 4 category which means you use your hands and feet plus there is a lot of ‘exposure’ (air under your feet so don’t fall) and you have to look for hand and foot holds before moving.

The first traverse this summer was from Crestone Peak to Crestone Needle. My climbing partner Robert LeClair and I first summited the Peak and then moved across the high terrain to the Needle. The crux of this traverse required some class 4 moves around the base of the Needle and then a climb of 80′ to the Needle’s summit. Tons of fun. You can read more on my complete trip report.

Next was the El Diente to Mt. Wilson traverse in the San Juan range of Southwest Colorado. This route is notorious for having loose rock but is generally classified as one of the easier traverses. We found it ‘interesting’ to say the least. Taking the North Buttress we reached Dietene’s summit and then followed the route across the ridge to nearby Mt. Wilson.

Once on top, the excitement really began with a severe thunderstorm that started quickly, violently and with little notice. You can read the entire report to see how we handled it at 14,156′.

By the way, this marked my 53rd and 54th 14er.

Please read the trip reports for all the details:

Climb On!


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