Bag four of the best mountaintop traverses in the State of Colorado, if not the entire USA!
Colorado's famous 14,000-foot mountain peaks—known as the "14ers"—are home to a vast range of mountaineering challenges ranging from hikes along well-maintained trails to ultra-technical mountaineering ascents. Along with the standard routes up each mountain, there are many different route variants, including four so-called "Great Traverses" linking up two different mountain peaks. This guidebook presents all four of the Great Traverses in detail.
In addition to offering aesthetically-pleasing ridgeline linkups, the Great Traverses are also some of the most technically and physically-demanding mountaineering challenges in the state of Colorado. But of course, the technical challenge only makes these routes that much more attractive to Colorado's diehard mountaineers.
While all four of the Great Traverses are demanding mountaineering routes, this list does provide a logical difficulty progression. The linkup of El Diente and Mount Wilson only rates a reasonable Class 4 technicality. Little Bear to Blanca Peak is generally rated as a Class 4 traverse, but there are a few Class 5 moves included, blurring the line between the two ratings. The Little Bear to Blanca traverse is also much more exposed than the El Diente and Mount Wilson combo.
Moving on up, Crestone Peak to Crestone Needle is a solidly Class 5 traverse, with extreme exposure and plenty of technical climbing. Whether it is more difficult than the Bells Traverse, from Maroon Peak to North Maroon Peak, is difficult to say—both of these routes are ultra-technical mountaineering objectives in the high mountains where one misstep or missed handhold could easily spell death.
If you have to question whether or not you're up to the task of completing these traverses safely and competently, the answer is clear: you're not.