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Colorado's top 5 peaks, according to legendary mountaineer Gerry Roach

February 3, 2018 Updated: February 4, 2018 at 1:06 pm
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World-class mountaineer and author Gerry Roach cheers after reaching the highest point of the Flat Top north of Montrose, Colo., Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018, while recovering from surgery to repair his left quadricep tendon. Roach, 74, has summited the major mountains of the world include Mt. Everest and has written many books including the book that sits on a shelve of most climbers in Colorado - “Colorado’s Fourteeners: From hikes to Climbs.” (The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Your favorite Colorado mountains? It's a tough question, especially when asked of someone who's topped all of those most prominent points.

But Gerry Roach obliged.

He has spent his life peak-bagging in Colorado and far beyond - and writing the definitive guides to the state's 14,000- and 13,000-foot summits along the way.

Roach, who now lives in Montrose, gave The Gazette his top-five list, the first two being nostalgic picks from his Front Range upbringing.

1. Longs Peak

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
Cars wind their way up Rocky Mountain National Park's Trail Ridge Road toward the "Rock Cut" section of the road in this photo taken Tuesday, July 15, 2003. In the background is 14,255 ft. Longs Peak. Mark Reis photo 

Specs: 14,255-foot summit, 5,100-foot elevation gain and 14.5 miles (round trip) on standard Keyhole route

Range/location: Front Range, in Rocky Mountain National Park

Roach says: "Best peak in Colorado for technical routes. Pre-driver's license, I used to hitchhike up there and have at routes on the east face. I climbed Longs 12 times via technical routes before I did the Keyhole route."

2. Green Mountain

Specs: 8,172-foot summit, 2,366-foot elevation gain and 5.7 miles (round trip) on Gregory Canyon Trail

Range/location: Front Range, near Boulder

"Right above Boulder and festooned with rocks to climb. Humble Green harbors hundreds of adventures, a lifetime of adventures."

3. Jagged Mountain

Jagged Mountain Clouds

Specs: 13,824-foot summit, about 6,000 feet of elevation gain in what is typically a multi-day adventure involving almost 850 feet of technical climbing, with some class 5 sections

Range/location: Needle Mountains, part of the San Juan Mountains outside Silverton

"In my soon-to-be reprinted high thirteener guide, I proclaimed Jagged the best peak bag in Colorado. That superlative has survived for 20 years and will be reprinted in the second edition. A magic combination of hard-to-reach solitude and a tough climb place it above all others."

4. Peak Fifteen

Specs: 13,700-foot summit, about 7,800 feet of elevation gain from the Needleton stop off the Durango and Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad, requiring class 5 climbing

Range/location: San Juan Mountains, outside Silverton

"Colorado's second-hardest thirteener. It is the hardest peak on Colorado's 200 highest list. Again, a combination of a difficult approach and a difficult climb place it apart from nearby neighbors."

5. Peak "K"

Specs: 12,940-foot summit, reached by going off trail on Lost Lake Trail in the Eagles Nest Wilderness, requiring route-finding skills and Class 4 and 5 climbing ability

Range/Location: Gore Range, outside Vail

"Most climbers have never considered it," Roach says. "Therefore, it should be their next climb."

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