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Jagged Mountain Reflection

Jagged Mountain Reflection, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado

Jagged Mountain Reflection, Weminuche Wilderness, Colorado

At 13,824 feet, Jagged Mountain stands 176 feet shy of coveted Fourteener status, but what it lacks in height it makes up for with forbidding beauty, difficulty and remoteness. Jagged is one of the very few high Colorado peaks that requires roped, fifth-class climbing to reach the summit. Simply reaching the base of the peak requires more than a day of arduous, mostly off-trail travel through the Weminuche Wilderness near Durango.

To the northwest of Jagged sits an unnamed, rarely visited lake at 12,552 feet. I arrived at the lake during the fifth day of an adventurous, eight-day traverse of the Needle Mountains. At first, I was inclined to pause for a snack and then move on. The lake’s rocky, inhospitable shores are mostly barren, too high, craggy and windswept to support wildflowers. To my astonishment, however, as I scrambled along the shore, I found one lonely group of columbine growing in just the right location to include in a photograph of Jagged and its reflection. In the 18 years that I have been specializing in Colorado wilderness landscapes, this is the only time and place where I have found this exceedingly rare combination.

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