Great Sand Dunes National Preserve High Point Trip Report

Date: September 27, 2003
Author: John Mitchler

Kathy Dalsaso and I went to Tijeras Peak on Saturday Sept. 27, 2003 - the highpoint of Great Sand Dunes National Preserve, which is administratively linked to Great Sand Dunes National Park.

Tijeras (Spanish for "shears") is in the Sangre de Cristo range south of Canyon City and west of Greenhorn Mountain. We approached it from the east via Westcliffe, camping at the 2WD TH on Friday and drove to the 4WD TH Saturday morning. Our hike/climb was 9am to 7pm.

The route goes over Music Pass and through beautiful forest to Lower Sand Lake, and finishes via challenging cliffs and a rocky summit ridge. Music Pass requires a 450 ft ascent on the return which Kathy found to be the highlight of the trip.

The cliff band at 12,200 ft is a barrier from Lower Sand Lake but it has an opportune ramp which allows hikers to gain access to the upper mountain. This crux ramp is a relatively easy low Class 3 climb, but it had snow and ice and was a dicey proposition without crampons and rope. We did it!

The peak itself is a fun jumble of relatively stable boulders and slabs. The view north to the Crestones is amazing. The Sand Lakes valley is absolutely gorgeous.

Here are two photos from the trip with descriptions.

I missed the Great American Beer Festival in Denver to do this climb, but it was worth it.