While most people are most familiar with Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, the most dangerous mountains to ascend in Colorado include some lesser-known names. Only 54 mountains in Colorado rise above 14,000 feet, but there are over 1,300 peaks cresting above 12,000 feet with plenty of challenging vertical to pursue. Proceed with caution; but if you’ve got plenty of experience and mountaineering know-how and are looking for a challenge, here are the 6 most dangerous Colorado mountains.

RELATED: Six Colorado 13ers to Hike this Summer

1. Maroon Bells – Near Aspen, Colorado

Maroon Bells Print signed high filter pass Irwin Badeaux
Photo Credit: Irwin Badeau.

The Maroon Bells are not only some of Colorado’s most photographed mountains, they also present an extensive challenge to climbers looking to traverse between the two peaks. Mountaineers must bring climbing gear like harnesses and ropes to ensure a safe traverse.

2. Capitol Peak – Near Aspen, Colorado

Capitol Peak - OutThere Colorado
Capitol Peak

Another 14,000-foot mountain on the list, Capitol Peak earns its well-deserved toughness rating via its infamous Knife Ridge. Though the traverse across the ridge is comparatively short, the exposure on both sides makes this peak a difficult one to ascend.

3. Lizard Head – San Juan Mountains, Southwest Colorado

This 13,000-foot peak is one of the most difficult of Colorado’s over 600 13ers. Ascent of this peak requires ropes and has sections rated 5.8 and above. This peak is certainly not for first time climbers, so be sure to train well before attempting this grueling peak.

4. Longs Peak – Near Estes Park, Colorado

Longs Peak - Chasm Lake - Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: John Fielder - OutThere Colorado.
Longs Peak – Chasm Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park. Photo Credit: John Fielder.

Longs Peak is dangerous primarily because of the lengthy ascent time as well as its features that boast some of the most difficult climbing puzzles in Colorado. Ascending Longs via one of the rope routes (i.e. The East Face) features rock faces of thousands of feet of vertical ascent.

5. Peak Fifteen – San Juan Mountains, Southwest Colorado

A sixteen mile round trip hike along with some 5.0 to 5.2 rated stretches makes Peak Fifteen one of the craggiest and physically wearing climbs in Colorado. Generally, climbers will dedicate two to three days to backpack the entire route. Climbers can also pop across to bag Pigeon and Turret, two additional 13ers, in the same trip.

6. Jagged Mountain – San Juan Mountains, Southwest Colorado

Nestled deep within the San Juan Range, the approach to Jagged Mountain requires a 20-30 mile round trip trek, depending on the approach site. At the top of this incredibly beautiful mountain, climbers will find pitches of 5.2 and above. Cliffs and grassy ledges make up the majority of the ascent, so many climbers will rope up and down a variety of puzzles.

What We Believe

We are driven by our deep respect for our environment, and our passionate commitment to sustainable tourism and conservation. We believe in the right for everyone - from all backgrounds and cultures - to enjoy our natural world, and we believe that we must all do so responsibly. Learn More