October 8, 2017

El Diente Peak – 14,159′

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San Juan
259' (Mount Wilson - 0.8 mi E)
Dolores County
12.2 mi SW of Telluride
39.3 mi NNW of Durango

Wilson & El Diente Traverse
from Kilpacker Basin (Class 4)

Google Maps


This is the 33rd 14er I've climbed, in September 2017 with my friends Mike and Matt. El Diente Peak is officially an unranked 14er since it only has 259' of prominence from the saddle between it and nearby Mt. Wilson. It is often climbed together with Mt. Wilson via the class 4 ridgeline that connects the two peaks. This ridgeline is better known as the Wilson & El Diente Traverse, one of Colorado's four Great 14er Traverses. El Diente can be seen from some of the surrounding populated areas, although perhaps not as easily as the more prominent Mt. Wilson or Wilson Peak. 

We climbed the peak via the South Slopes route from Kilpacker Basin, and then continued across the traverse to Mt. Wilson. The Kilpacker Basin trail begins at 10,100' and ends high up in the basin at 12,600', 5.25 miles from the trailhead. From here, the South Slopes route cuts north toward the peak, ascending about 1,500' in 3/4 of a mile. Much of the route is marked with cairns and, up to about 13,400', a trail is visible. Above 13,700' some class 3 scrambling is required.

At 13,800' the route reaches the "Organ Pipes", a 50-ft-high wall of rock. Turning left (west), the route avoids the Organ Pipes and instead reaches the ridgeline just to their west at 14,000'. From here, the route continues west toward the El Diente summit on the north side of the ridge. It climbs up through a short but steep (and often snow-filled) gully just below the summit. From the summit, climbers can either descend via the same South Slopes route or continue on to Mt. Wilson via the class 4 traverse. Another alternative is to descend via the standard North Slopes route into Navajo Basin.

The traverse itself is only about a mile long but contains several difficult exposed sections. Readers are directed toward the 14ers.com route description given above for more detailed information. Alternatively, Gerry Roach's guidebook Colorado's Fourteeners: From Hikes to Climbs* contains a detailed account of this route as well. Lastly, additional photos and a personal account of climbing this traverse can be found in my trip report, accessed at the link below.

*Click here to get this book on Amazon!

Trip Reports

Wilson & El Diente Traverse (Sept 2017)