Overview and HistoryJagged Mountain lies in the heart of Colorado's remote Weminuche Wilderness Area of the San Juans. It is the 94 th highest peak in Colorado and provides one of the most difficult standard routes on a large peak. Jagged is not easliy viewed by anyone other than those willing to get off the road and start hiking. The true summit was not reached until 1933 by an SJM group headed by Dwight Lavender. This party climbed from the Sunlight Creek Drainage to the south of the peak and found their way to the summit. It was not until a year later, that another party found upon their descent, that the North Face provided a much more logical route to the summit. It is this route today that provides the only resonable access to Jagged's summit.
The standard North Face route does not offer a good look at the mountain until one has traveled 2.5 hours on the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad followed by a 9 mile, 5208 feet hike to Jagged Pass. It is then that one can finally marvel at this complex series of towers. Despite the fact that one is only about 1/2 mile and 850 feet from the summit, it is at Jagged Pass that the climb actually starts. Most well equipped and experienced parties will take at least 5 hours RT from Jagged Pass.
Anyone wishing to attempt this route must obtain a copy of Gerry Roach's book "Colorado's Thirteeners-13,800 to 13,999 feet" as his route description is exceptional.
Jagged is made up of relatively solid granite for the area and offers an excellent semi-technical route to its summit. However, identifiying the true summit and finding the actual route are a challenge in themselves. The route is made more interesting by the large number of gravel ledges and amount of intricate route finding that one must overcome in order to reach the summit. It must also be noted that the standard North Face route is the only resonable route to the summit.
The North Face route is rated at mostly class 3-4 with one or two low 5th class sections. These ratings however do not convey the seriousness of this route. The exposure paired with the large amounts of loose gravel make the smallest slip or stumble deadly from beginning to end and anything off route will prove much more difficult. Most parties will choose to take a rope if for nothing more than rappelling for a more rapid and safe descent.
The Needleton TH is the shortest and most used starting point for climbing Jagged. It is located at 8212 feet along the Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad and requires a 2.5 hour train ride to get to. See the D&S Railroad section for train details. The route follows the Noname Drainage along trails that although unmaintained where in excellent shape for the most part. Route finding was difficult in places, but a sharp eye and good sense of direction make it a bit easier.
The route from this TH consist of about 9 miles and 5200 feet of hiking one way followed by 0.5 mile and 844 feet of climbing to reach the summit. Most parties will take at least 3 days for this climb.
This approach follows a similar route but substitutes the train ride with an additional RT total of 20 miles and 1600 feet of hiking. This TH is accessible from US 550 at 7.7 miles south of Coal Bank Pass or about 25 miles north of Durango.
This TH is also accessible by car and provides access to Jagged via the Vallecito River and North Sunlight creek drainage just north of Jagged. Although this approach avoids the train ridge it does entail 31 miles and 5960 feet of hiking RT.
The Beartown TH is an alternate for an approach to Jagged via the North Sunlight creek drainage. At 23 miles and over 7800 vertical feet in gain, it is shorter but more strenuous than the Vallecito approach.
Durango-Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad InformationThe most expedient and practical way to climb Jagged is via the Needleton TH and Noname Creek drainage. The railroad is privately owned and is typically accessed in Durango.
A roundtrip ticket from Durango to Needleton is currently $62 and leaves Durango at 9:00 AM and drops off at Needleton at around 11:30 AM. On return it picks up at Needleton around 3:45 PM and gets into Durango at about 6:15 PM. This occurs daily from early May through October.
The Train office can be contacted at 970-247-2733 or by visiting their web site here
Weminuche Wilderness Area Information
The Weminuche is king of the American high country. The average elevation of this wilderness is over 10,400 ft., making the San Juan Mountains of the Weminuche the highest mountain range in the U.S. The Continental Divide Trail runs through the wilderness from Stoney Pass to Wolf Creek Pass for 80 miles and averages over 12,000 ft. Bring your backpack, your ice axe, your rope, and your camera as this is one of the finest wilderness areas in the United States, my personal favorite.
The Western portion of the wilderness contains Colorado's most rugged, steep, and alpine like summits, while the eastern portion contains miles and miles of unspoiled peaks, rivers, lakes (63 cirque lakes carved out by glaciation), alpine meadows, and forests. 3 peaks in the Weminuche rise over 14,000 ft. while scores of other peaks rise over 13,000 ft. Many of the peaks contain technical routes while some require technical ascents. Some of the most difficult peaks to climb in Colorado can be found in this wilderness. Two great American Rivers, the Rio Grande and the San Juan, have their headwaters here as well.
Thanks to attm for the use of his text on the Weminuche Wilderness Area.
Camping and Redtape[img:120533:alignright:medium:]Jagged is located fully in the Weminuch Wilderness area. No permits are required nor are there designated camping sites. Wilderness travel and camping regulations should be followed.
The Forest service recommends that toilet paper be burned or packed out due to the animals digging it up and strewing it around. They also recommend that food and other items be hung due various animals in the area that might be intrested. Just one drainage over is the popular 14er basecamp of Chicago Basin, where animals have made a habit of getting into things.
There are several good campsites along the Animas River until the Noname Creek. From here it is several miles of steep hiking until other suitable sites are found. Some of the best sites are near 10,800 feet in Noname amongst large evergreens below the Animas/Monitor Massif.
The creek offers good water and this leaves about 3000 feet and 6 miles RT to the summit. There are several campsites higher up but are not reasonable considering the steep loose trails that lead to them. It is best to do this on summit day when your pack is lighter.
National Forest information for the area can be found here
When to ClimbJagged is best climbed between mid-June and late September. Snow can persist through July and may increase the difficulty of the climb. The other times may have lots of rain that will also make the route slick and more difficult.
Also the train only runs from early May through October.