There are three peaks in the Centennial list (100 highest) that require 5th class climbing. As you will see below, there are four other 13ers that also fall in this intimidating category. It is interesting, though not altogether surprising, that all of the mountains on this list (except the debatable "Whitney Peak") are found in the San Juan Range.
NOTE: I believe this list is complete but there are 637 mountains in Colorado that are above 13,000 feet and have more than 300 feet of topographical prominence. Many of these peaks are quite obscure and have seen only a handful of ascents. If you know of a ranked summit that requires 5th class rock climbing by its easiest route than please let me know!
|Dallas Peak from Blue Lake Pass|
Deep in the Weminuche Wildnerness lies one of Colorado's most reclusive and inaccessible mountains. Jagged Mountain is a jewel of Colorado mountaineering and deserves a larger reputation than it has. This hard-to-reach mountain is one of the few in the state that requires more than one day to climb. The route itself is a winding, complicated multi-pitch climb with dangerous scrambling, loose rock, tricky routefinding, and several technical cruxes that probably necessitate the use of a rope. There is a great deal of exposure, including a narrow ledge traverse with thousands of feet of air whipping at your ankles.
2. Teakettle Mountain (13,819 feet) (class 5.2)
Teakettle is part of a rugged portion of the San Juans that includes several challenging peaks: Sneffels, Coffeepot, Dallas, and Teakettle. Of the three Centennials on this list, Teakettle is probably the easiest summit to reach. There is a 50-foot 5.2-5.3 summit pitch leading up the unique summit cap (hmmm...why did this mountain get its name?) to an exhilarating and tiny summit.
3. Dallas Peak (13,809 feet) (class 5.3)
Dallas Peak is often cited as the most difficult of Colorado's 100 highest peaks. Dallas's challenging summit cap is generally given a high-end 5.3 rating. The last two hundred feet on Dallas are steep, junky and full of class 4 and 5 terrain. The most difficult moves are just below the summit. You can rappel from near the summit directly past most of the hardest difficulties.
4. Peak Fifteen (13,700) (class 5.2)
Peak Fifteen is the next-door neighbor to more famous 13er Turret Peak and both of these rugged mountains lie in Weminuche Wilderness Area in the San Juans. This technical and committing route is one of the hardest all-around climbs of all the standard routes in the state and most people bring a rope. Peak Sixteen, Peak Fifteen's unranked neighbor, is also a technical mountaineering goal requiring 5th class climbing to reach its summit and together these three mountains for an amazing and impressive massif.
5. Coxcomb Peak (13,656 feet) (class 5.3)
Probably the easiest peak on this list, Coxcomb involves just a short section of class 5 climbing. This flat-topped peak is not particularly imposing but can surprise you. Coxcomb is known for loose rock, poor protection, and some exposure on the summit ridge. Be prepared to rappel.
6. Whitney Peak (13,276') (class 5.6)
Inclusion of this peak is up for debate, as the "class 5" section of it is one boulder. Apparently, however, this boulder is the highest point on the peak and thus to truly climb the peak in the eyes of some you must stand on the top of the boulder. Apparently, scaling this boulder takes a few moves of class 5.6 "climbing."
|Lizard Head Peak- Colorado's most difficult summit over 13,000'|
Sunlight Spire (13,995 feet) (5.10c)
Though it does not meet the criteria to be a ranked peak as it has only 215 feet of topographical prominence, Sunlight Spire is one of Colorado's most dramatic and difficult summits to reach. To add to its allure, the summit pitch is a beautiful and bomber splitter-crack that clocks in at the high 5.10 level. This crack can be freeclimbed or aided (see this photograph for a good view of the amazing summit cap). Based on the more accurate but less syndicated 1988 datum, Sunlight Spire just overtops 14,000 feet, possibly making it the most difficult 14,000 foot summit in the contiguous 48, even more difficult than the famous summit cap on California's Thunderbolt Peak, which, by the way, is also "unranked" by Colorado standards yet considered one of the must-do California 14ers.
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