Lizard Head

Last updated
Lizard Head
Lizard Head 2019.JPG
Highest point
Elevation 13,119 ft (3,999 m) [1] [2]
Prominence 1,134 ft (346 m) [2]
Isolation 1.93 mi (3.11 km) [2]
Coordinates 37°50′09″N107°57′02″W / 37.8358276°N 107.9506236°W / 37.8358276; -107.9506236 Coordinates: 37°50′09″N107°57′02″W / 37.8358276°N 107.9506236°W / 37.8358276; -107.9506236 [3]
Geography
USA Colorado location map.svg
Red triangle with thick white border.svg
Lizard Head
Location Dolores and San Miguel counties, Colorado, United States [3]
Parent range San Miguel Mountains [2]
Topo map USGS 7.5' topographic map
Mount Wilson, Colorado [3]
Geology
Age of rock Oligocene
Mountain type Ash flow tuff [4]
Climbing
First ascent 1920 by Albert Ellingwood and Barton Hoag
Easiest route Technical climb; class 5.8

Lizard Head is a mountain summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,119-foot (3,999 m) thirteener is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness, 6.8 miles (11.0 km) west by south (bearing 258°) of the Town of Ophir, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating San Juan National Forest and Dolores County from Uncompahgre National Forest and San Miguel County. [1] [2] [3]

Contents

Mountain

Lizard Head lies just southeast of a group of three Colorado fourteeners, Mount Wilson, Wilson Peak, and El Diente Peak. Lizard Head is only the 556th highest peak in Colorado by most standard definitions, [5] but its towering spire-like form makes it one of the most spectacular.

Lizard Head lies 2.84 mi (4.57 km) northwest of Colorado State Highway 145 at Lizard Head Pass. Lizards Head Trail climbs west from Trout Lake along Black Face Mountain ridge and past the south face of Lizard Head toward Wilson Peak. [6]

The peak was used in a logo by the Rio Grande Southern Railroad.

Geology

The rock spire of Lizard Head looks like an old eroded volcanic plug but it is actually composed of extrusive volcanic ash flows of Oligocene age resting on older sedimentary rocks of Eocene age. [4]

Climbing

Lizard Head is one of the most difficult summits in Colorado to climb. [7] The story of the first ascent makes a memorable and harrowing tale. In the words of Albert Ellingwood,

A rottener mass of rock is inconceivable. The core may still be solid but the "surrounding tuffs" are seeking a lower level in large quantities. This far-advanced disintegration was our greatest obstacle. Absolutely the whole surface of the rock is loose and pebbles rain down from the sides as readily as needles from an aging Christmas tree. In many places one could with one hand pull down hundreds of pounds of fragments, and occasionally we could hear the crashing of small avalanches that fell without human prompting. [8]

Despite the serious and daunting objective hazards, the first ascent team completed the climb and descent safely in a feat of mountaineering skill.

Appearance

The appearance of the peak is reported to have changed significantly due to a landslide in 1911. From the Dec 29 edition of the Mancos Times-Tribune of that year:

Lizard Head has fallen

The skyline of the mountains to the southwest of Telluride was changed last night when through some mighty upheaval of nature, the taller spire of Lizard Head fell with a roar to the depths below.

During the night people living on the mesas near Ophir heard a sliding, grinding noise, which disturbed the atmosphere and gave the impression of an earthquake. This morning they discovered that the upstanding rock which had been given the name of Lizard Head was gone.

The smaller spire which was formerly inconspicuous by the side of the head is now standing single and alone, pointing to the sky, a long sentinel of last night’s upheaval. Millions of tons of rocks, conglomerate and earth went down without apparent cause or reason. [9]

There are several photographs of the peak from before the landslide. Before-and-after photographs taken from the north and shown in The RGS Story [10] indicate substantial change. The earlier photograph shows a taller squared-off peak that would be more suggestive of a lizard's head.

Before-and-after photos shown in Jackson and Fielder's Colorado 1870-2000 [11] taken from the south do not show as much change in appearance, indicating that the area of collapse was on the northern side.

Historical names

See also

Related Research Articles

Blanca Peak

Blanca Peak is the fourth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The ultra-prominent 14,351-foot (4,374 m) peak is the highest summit of the Sierra Blanca Massif, the Sangre de Cristo Range, and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The fourteener is located 9.6 miles (15.5 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, on the drainage divide separating Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from the Sangre de Cristo Land Grant and Costilla County. The summit is the highest point of both counties and the entire drainage basin of the Rio Grande. Below the steep North Face of Blanca Peak two live Glaciers once developed, until extinction sometime after 1903. North & South Blanca Glaciers were located at 37° 35N.,longitude 105° 28W. Blanca Peak is higher than any point in the United States east of its longitude.

La Plata Peak

La Plata Peak is the fifth-highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,343-foot (4,372 m) fourteener is located in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness of San Isabel National Forest, 22.7 miles (36.5 km) northwest by west of the Town of Buena Vista in Chaffee County, Colorado, United States.

Uncompahgre Peak

Uncompahgre Peak is the sixth highest summit of the Rocky Mountains of North America and the U.S. state of Colorado. The prominent 14,321-foot (4365.0 m) fourteener is the highest summit of the San Juan Mountains and the highest point in the drainage basin of the Colorado River and the Gulf of California. It is located in the Uncompahgre Wilderness in the northern San Juans, in northern Hinsdale County approximately 7 miles (11 km) west of the town of Lake City.

Lizard Head Wilderness

The Lizard Head Wilderness is a wilderness area in southwest Colorado. It contains 41,309 acres (167.17 km2) and is jointly managed by the Uncompahgre and San Juan National Forests. It is 10 miles (16 km) southwest of the town of Telluride and is named for a prominent rock formation that is said to look like a lizard's head. Lizard Head itself is 13,113 feet (3,997 m) and is a volcanic spire of crumbling rock. Due to the steepness of the cliffs and the poor quality of the rock for fixing ropes, only experienced mountaineers should attempt to summit the spire. Another 37 miles (60 km) of trails in this infrequently visited wilderness, are also strenuous and should be attempted by more advanced backpackers.

Wetterhorn Peak

Wetterhorn Peak is a fourteen thousand foot mountain peak in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is located in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of the northern San Juan Mountains, in northwestern Hinsdale County and southeastern Ouray County, 9 miles (14 km) east of the town of Ouray. It lies 2.75 mi (4.4 km) west of Uncompahgre Peak.

The San Juan Skyway is an All-American Road and a component in the Colorado Scenic and Historic Byway System. It forms a 233.0-mile (375.0 km) loop in the southwest part of the U.S. state of Colorado traversing the heart of the San Juan Mountains. It roughly parallels the routes of the narrow gauge railways: Rio Grande Southern ; and the unconnected Ouray and Silverton Branches of the Denver & Rio Grande along US 550 with the Silverton Railroad bridging a part of the gap. Its origin can be traced to the Around the Circle Route promoted by the D&RG.

Wilson Peak

Wilson Peak is a 14,023-foot (4,274 m) mountain peak in the U.S. state of Colorado. It is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness of the Uncompahgre National Forest, in the northwestern San Juan Mountains. It is the highest point in San Miguel County.

Crestone Needle

Crestone Needle is a high mountain summit of the Crestones in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,203-foot (4,329 m) fourteener is located 6.9 miles (11.1 km) east-southeast of the Town of Crestone in Saguache County, Colorado, United States. The Crestones are a cluster of high summits in the Sangre de Cristo Range, comprising Crestone Peak, Crestone Needle, Kit Carson Peak, Challenger Point, Humboldt Peak, and Columbia Point. They are usually accessed from common trailheads.

El Diente Peak

El Diente Peak is a high summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,165-foot (4,317 m) peak is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness of San Juan National Forest, 10.5 miles (16.9 km) north by east of the Town of Rico in Dolores County, Colorado, United States. "El Diente" is Spanish for "The Tooth", a reference to the shape of the peak.

Mount Wilson (Colorado)

Mount Wilson is the highest summit of the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The prominent 14,252-foot (4,344 m) fourteener is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness of San Juan National Forest, 10.6 miles (17.1 km) north by east of the Town of Rico in Dolores County, Colorado, United States. Mount Wilson should not to be confused with the lower Wilson Peak nearby.

Sunlight Peak

Sunlight Peak is a high mountain summit of the Needle Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,065-foot (4,287 m) fourteener is located in the Weminuche Wilderness of San Juan National Forest, 28.5 miles (45.8 km) northeast by north of the City of Durango in La Plata County, Colorado, United States.

Ellingwood Point

Ellingwood Point is a high mountain summit in the Sangre de Cristo Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 14,048-foot (4,282 m) fourteener is located on the Sierra Blanca Massif, 9.9 miles (16.0 km) north by east of the Town of Blanca, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating in Rio Grande National Forest and Alamosa County from San Isabel National Forest and Huerfano County. Ellingwood Point was named in honor of Albert Russell Ellingwood, an early pioneer of mountain climbing in the Western United States and in Colorado in particular.

Elmer Albert Russell Ellingwood was a pioneering mountaineer and climber in the western United States during the first half of the twentieth century. He made first ascents of many peaks and routes in the Rocky Mountains, particularly in Colorado, including Lizard Head in the San Juan Mountains, Ellingwood Ridge on La Plata Peak in the Sawatch Range, and Crestone Needle in the Sangre de Cristo Range. Many mountain features are named for him, on peaks such as Middle Teton, on which Ellingwood made the first ascent, the Ellingwood Ridge of La Plata Peak, and the Ellingwood Arete ascent of Crestone Needle; the fourteener Ellingwood Point, near Blanca Peak in southern Colorado, is named for him as well.

Stewart Peak (Colorado)

Stewart Peak, elevation 13,990 ft (4,264 m), is a summit in Colorado. The peak is the second highest thirteener in the state. It is located in the La Garita Mountains, sub-range of the San Juan Mountains, in Saguache County, within the La Garita Wilderness. Stewart Peak is the 55th highest peak in Colorado by most standard definitions, just missing the list of Colorado fourteeners. At one time, the peak's elevation was measured to be over 14,000 ft and it was believed to be a fourteener, but more recent and accurate surveys have dropped it below that threshold.

Matterhorn Peak (Colorado)

Matterhorn Peak is a high mountain summit in the San Juan Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,596-foot (4,144 m) thirteener is located in the Uncompahgre Wilderness of Uncompahgre National Forest, 10.3 miles (16.6 km) west by north of the Town of Lake City in Hinsdale County, Colorado, United States.

Carl Blaurock was an American mountaineer. He pioneered many climbing routes throughout Colorado and Mount Blaurock is named after him. Blaurock and climbing partner Bill Ervin were the first to climb all of the 14,000-foot peaks in the state of Colorado, doing so by 1923.

Middle Peak (Colorado)

Middle Peak is a high and prominent mountain summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,306-foot (4,056 m) peak is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness, 17.1 miles (27.6 km) west-southwest of the Town of Telluride, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating San Juan National Forest and Dolores County from Uncompahgre National Forest and San Miguel County.

Arrow Peak

Arrow Peak is a high mountain summit in the Grenadier Range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,809-foot (4,209 m) thirteener is located in the Weminuche Wilderness of San Juan National Forest, 8.7 miles (14.0 km) south-southeast of the Town of Silverton in San Juan County, Colorado, United States.

Dolores Peak

Dolores Peak is a high mountain summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,296-foot (4,053 m) thirteener is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness, 16.7 miles (26.9 km) west-southwest of the Town of Telluride, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating San Juan National Forest and Dolores County from Uncompahgre National Forest and San Miguel County.

Gladstone Peak

Gladstone Peak is a high mountain summit in the San Miguel Mountains range of the Rocky Mountains of North America. The 13,919-foot (4,243 m) thirteener is located in the Lizard Head Wilderness, 11.2 miles (18.0 km) southwest by west of the Town of Telluride, Colorado, United States, on the drainage divide separating San Juan National Forest and Dolores County from Uncompahgre National Forest and San Miguel County. The mountain was named in honor of British Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone.

References

  1. 1 2 The elevation of Lizard Head includes an adjustment of +1.778 m (+5.83 ft) from NGVD 29 to NAVD 88.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Lizard Head, Colorado". Peakbagger.com. Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 "Lizard Head". Geographic Names Information System . United States Geological Survey . Retrieved November 5, 2014.
  4. 1 2 Blair, Ron, Geology of the Western San Juan Mountains and a Tour of the San Juan Skyway, Southwestern Colorado in Blair, Ron (editor), (1996) The Western San Juan Mountains: their geology, ecology and human history Archived 2013-12-28 at the Wayback Machine , University Press of Colorado. Retrieved 2013-07-12.
  5. "Colorado's Summits – 13,000 to 13,999 feet". Climb.Mountains.com. Retrieved 2007-03-04.
  6. Mount Wilson, Colorado, 7.5 Minute Topographic Quadrangle, USGS, 1953
  7. Jacobs, Randy, ed.; Robert M. Ormes (2000). Guide to the Colorado Mountains (10th ed.). Colorado Mountain Club. ISBN   0-9671466-0-7.CS1 maint: extra text: authors list (link)
  8. Ellingwood, Albert L. (1921). "First to Climb Lizard Head". Outing. LXXIX (2). Archived from the original on 2012-12-20.
  9. http://www.cortezjournal.com/article/20120601/COLUMNISTS25/706019949
  10. Collman, Russ, Dell A. McCoy, and William A. Graves. THE R.G.S. STORY: RIO GRANDE SOUTHERN; Vol. 4: Over the Bridges, Ophir Loop to Rico, Sundance Books, 1994. ISBN   0913582743.
  11. W.H. Jackson and John Fielder. Colorado 1870-2000. Westcliffe Publishers with the Colorado Historical Society, 1999. ISBN   1565793471.