As one of Colorado’s few high peaks with mandatory technical climbing, plus a splendid setting deep in the Weminuche Wilderness, 13,824-foot Jagged Mountain is as coveted as they get—it’s even a centennial (100 highest) 13er. Jagged’s isolation is part of the appeal. Most aspirants take the Durango & Silverton Railroad to Needleton ($89 round-trip, including a $10 charge for loading your pack into a boxcar). From there, it’s about 7.5 miles up a faint, often rugged trail along the Animas River and No Name Creek to reach high camp.
In the morning, you climb to 13,020-foot Jagged Pass, with superb views of the surrounding 13ers and 14ers, and then the real fun begins. Jagged’s eponymous summit ridge is a 500-foot-high turreted fin, cresting on one spire at 13,824 feet. After traversing steep, grassy slopes to the base of the north face, you wind up a circuitous route along ledges, gullies, and chimneys. The rock climbing on this route is rated 5.0 to 5.2, but in dry conditions many experienced scramblers don’t bother with a rope for the short boulder-problem cruxes.
If you’d feel more comfortable tied in, a 120-foot length of rope (much lighter than a full climbing rope) and a small selection of wired nuts and hexes is plenty; a 120-foot rope also is perfectly fine for the three short rappels that bypass the crux sections on the way down.
Near the top, the route crosses to Jagged’s south side and then climbs a steep chimney to an airy summit perch with extraordinary views, including the nearby fourteeners Sunlight, Windom, and Eolus. For a bonus wilderness adventure, return to Needleton by crossing the high pass into the Ruby Creek drainage, one of Colorado’s most beautiful spots.
Guidebook: Colorado’s Thirteeners, by Gerry and Jennifer Roach
On the web: Summit Post