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Lizard Head Peak just may be one of the most coveted summits in Colorado. It is one of the 637 13,000 ft peaks.It's one of the few summits in Colorado that requires a rope to get to it's summit. Add some history to that and it's a classic!
In Albert Ellingwood's words,
A rottener mass of rock is inconceivable. The core may still be solid but the "surrounding tuffs" are seeking a lower level in large quantities. This far-advanced disintegration was our greatest obstacle. Absolutely the whole surface of the rock is loose and pebbles rain down from the sides as readily as needles from an aging Christmas tree. In many places one could with one hand pull down hundreds of pounds of fragments, and occasionally we could hear the crashing of small avalanches that fell without human prompting.
OverviewLizard Head Peak has been known as Colorado's hardest summit to reach as the easiest route is 5.8+. It stands out as a big pinnacle shooting into the sky. It almost looks like a desert tower except that it's at over 13,000 feet and the rock isn't great. The top 500 feet of Lizard Head is a near vertical pillar. Heavy erosion leaving whats left of an ancient volcano. That being said, the rock is not Yosemite like. Many that have done it, never return again due to that factor. I would do it again though! It ain't that loose, as storied. The summit is the best in Colorado in my opinion. Lizard Head also has a bit of history.
There are at least 3 routes in it's south face. The standard route is what everyone uses though and the other routes, expect massive amounts of choss. There is potential for new routes if that's your sort of thing. New routes would be steep, loose, run out, and probably require some aid.
Get to Telluride one way or another. The peak is accessed by the Cross Mountain TH at Lizard Head Pass just west of town. There is a pullout. There is no winter closure as it's right off the highway. Follow the trail all the way to the saddle between Wilson and Lizard Head. Head straight up the cone until you arrive at the base, a corner.
No Red Tape. Leave no trace!
When To ClimbJuly to early September is the main season for climbing Lizard Head Peak. The snow is gone. That being said, take my advice and get a late start. The route is in the shade in the morning and is bitter cold. Some have got frost bite in the summer. You don't want to get too late of a start though. Make sure your off the summit by 11 or 12 at the latest as this would be one nasty place to be with lightning.
Winter on Lizard Head Peak is more of a challenge, if doing it in the summer is not hard enough. It involves a large dose of suffering. Climbing in double boots and gloves is a must making the climb feel a bit harder then 5.8. No ice screws needed as there was no ice just snow covered rock. The summit has been one of my favorite experiences in the winter in CO. That being said, I only know of one or maybe two parties climbing it in the winter in the history. It's a bit more serious but well worth the effort!
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