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Lizard Head

At: Colorado, United States
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About: Lizard Head (often called Lizard Head Peak) is a mountain in Colorado, one of the 637 peaks above 13,000 feet in elevation in the state (see thirteeners). It is located in the San Juan Mountains on the border between San Miguel County and Dolores County, within the Lizard Head Wilderness and 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, but its towering spire-like form makes it one of the most spectacular. Lizard Head is an old eroded volcanic plug and is one of the most difficult summits in Colorado to climb. 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." Despite the serious and daunting objective hazards, the first ascent team completed the climb and descent safely in a feat of mountaineering skill that was far ahead of its time.


Maria Ly
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