Page Type Page Type: Mountain/Rock
Location Lat/Lon: 38.00945°N / 107.86222°W
Additional Information County: Ouray&San Miguel
Activities Activities: Hiking, Mountaineering, Scrambling
Seasons Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
Additional Information Elevation: 13496 ft / 4114 m
Sign the Climber's Log


Mears PeakMears Peak as seen from the saddle  (close to Mears and in between Mears and S 7)
Mears PeakMears Peak as seen from the summit of T 0
Mount Sneffels and Mears PeakMount Sneffels and Mears Peak as seen from S 8
Mears Peak
is a tricentennial 13er (among the highest 300 in Colorado) located west of Mount Sneffels. While the east range of Mount Sneffels has many popular 13ers with a relatively easy acess, the west side is more isolated. The long approach, lower mountains and tons of scree are not that inviting. The summit register on Mears Peak showed only my entry for 2017 (August), and 2 parties in 2016.
Mears peak is quiet prominent, and one can admire it while driving on Highway 62 from Ridgway to Telluride. 
I chose the hike it from Telluride side, via East Fork of Deep Creek. This is the easiest route up and the only access during the late summer. The south slopes are filled with loose scree and rubble, there are cliffs there and even this easiest route offers plenty of excitement. 
The north side of Mears Peak is extremely steep and loose. There is a nice aesthetic snow/ice climb on Mears north face accessible from Box Factory Park. This route has to be under the right conditions, which are usually short (May). If interested in North Face Couloir, check out this trip report
Most people combine Mears Peak with neighboring mountains. I chose to combine it with S 7 since I have already done  S 6 last year. I think the easiest way up Mears Peak is actually from S 6 side. The traverse between S 6 and Mears does not go - loose steep towers, so you have to descend very low on S 6, and then gain the ridge again. Once on the ridge, it appeared not that difficult (but I have not done it). 
I chose to ascend south slopes of Mears instead, and the terrain was very loose, steep at sections, requiring class 3 moves. I was not very comfortable there. 
The ridge to S 7 started easy, but was getting more strenuous as I continued. I found it easier and less scary than going up Mears south slopes, but still requiring a lot of attention and slow progress. The ridge is one mile long - watch the weather, there is no escape from this ridge until it ends!
Guide to Colorado Mountain with Robert Ormes (sort of a bible of Colorado mountains) provides only a brief mention: "For Mears Peak (13,496), ascend the old Iron Mountain Road northeast to the head of the East Fork of Deep Creek, deep within Mount Sneffels Wilderness, then make your way north to the prominent summit"
Colorado Rank: 259
Parent Lineage: T 0
Class: 3
Wilderness: Mount Sneffels
Nearby Mountains
  • S 6                      0.87 miles
  • S 7                      1.01 miles
  • S 5                      1.11 miles
  • S 3                      1.26 miles
  • Ruffner Mountain  1.34 miles
  • T 0                      1.37 miles
  • Campbell Peak      1.60 miles
  • S 8                      1.61 miles
  • S 4                      1.70 miles
  • S 9                      1.91 miles
  • Dallas Peak          2.55 miles
  • Mount Sneffels     3.83 miles

Getting There

From State Highway 145 at “Society Junction”, 4 miles west of Telluride, drive on 145 just a little east past the junction and turn left (north) onto “Airport Road” = “the Last Dollar Road”, # 638. 

Follow the road uphill and around a sharp turn at the head of a drainage. The road continues west past the Aldasoro Ranch entrance. Bear right when the Airport Road turns off for the Telluride airport. It becomes a good dirt road here - no need for 4 WD vehicles. Continue NW and in under a mile, park at the on the right in a trailhead parking area with a small corral. The Uncompahgre NR map indicates that this is the beginning for trail # 418. There is a sign for Deep Creek and Whipple Mountain Trails.  There is some private property across from the trailhead parking. 


Approach into East Fork of Deep Creek 

From the trailhead, follow trail # 418 marked as Deep Creek/Whipple Mountain Trail for a short distance on an open grassy slope. It then switchbacks briefly to the south and then back north to join an old roadbed beside a diversion ditch in an aspen forest. Follow this ditch for nearly a mile to where it crosses Sheep Creek. Past the creek, the trail turns west, still contouring, and then after about 200 yards, makes a sharp turn to the north. Continue along the ditch, ignoring a trail sign for a trail that heads down. After another half mile or so, the ditch intersects “Whipple Creek”. That is the name for the creek that drains the basin on the south flank of Mears and S 7. This name does not show on most maps. Cross over Whipple Creek on a bridge and pick up the trail on the other side. Hike for about 10 min as the trail follows the creek. The trail then makes a sudden turn to the left, goes up a little, then begins to head gently downhill, paralleling the creek. From that sharp left, hike about 10 minutes watching for an old grass-covered roadbed on the right that heads uphill. Follow it north. This becomes “Iron Mountain trail". Hike on up this trail for nearly another 2 miles until it terminates at an old mine site at 10,862 feet. 

South Slopes Route

From the mine continue up grass, talus towards the last, the most eastward grass slope. Gain as much elevation as you can on this terrain until you reach scree/talus and some cliffs above. Traverse right = east on this vast terrain of loose screen. Pay attention not to create too many rock avalanches. Sometimes talus and scree will change over a more stable looking slabs of rock. You will encounter some short class 3 sections. Plenty of zig zagging and looking around for an easier terrain while always moving up and right = east. I used a small gully with relatively safer rock, class 3 to get above this terrain. Higher up, it gets less steep, but still very loose and you can see the summit of Mears Peak. Once you reach the ridge, the going gets easier. There is still plenty of loose terrain, but this section felt much safer. The summit has a small cairn, glass register and a bottle of some yellow alcohol I was afraid to try. What is the story behind that? Enjoy, the views are spectacular. 

Grass slopes up Mears PeakGrass slopes up Mears Peak
Start of the route up Mears PeakStart of the route up Mears Peak
Terrain below Mears - S 7 traverseTerrain below Mears - S 7 traverse
Terrain up Mears PeakTerrain up Mears Peak
South face of Mears peakSouth face of Mears peak
Mears Peak south slopesMears Peak south slopes
South slopes of Mears PeakSouth slopes of Mears Peak
North Face CouloirNorth Face Couloir
Summit of Mears PeakSummit of Mears Peak
Mount SneffelsMount Sneffels 
Run to make it for camera timerRun to make it for camera timer
Mears Peak from the traverse to S 7Mears Peak from the traverse to S 7
Traverse Mears Peak to S 7Traverse Mears Peak to S 7

Red Tape

There is no red tape. Hiking, parking at the trailhead, camping in the wilderness are for free. 
Mount Sneffels Wilderness rules apply: The following are prohibited: Entering or being in the area with more than 15 people. Camping within 100 feet of any lake, stream, or National Forest System Trail. Building, maintaining or using a fire within 100 feet of any lake, or stream, or National Forest System Trail, above treeline. Storing equipment, personal property, or supplies for longer than seven days. 

When to Climb

Summer is the easiest with a nice approach mostly on trails into the basin, higher up hiking is off trails. Winter poses a lot more difficulties with a long approach in a deep snow and travel through an avalanche prone terrain. Always check for Northern San Juan Avalanche forecast prior venturing out there.


Trailhead for Deep Creek and Whipple Creek is slightly off Last Dollar Road. The parking lot is spacious. There are signs for no camping, but I would imagine that sleeping in the car would be pretty comfortable here. 
Camping is hard in the close vicinity of Telluride. The closest designated campgrounds are at the “Town Park” on the east end of Telluride and the “Sunshine” campground south of Society Junction on SH 145. Click here for more information on Telluride Camping.