Hardest 14er? 2012

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SilverLynx
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Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby SilverLynx » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:50 pm

I decided to start this thread because there seems to be a lot of different opinions about which 14er is the hardest. I've heard several people say Capitol, but some have a different opinion. I'm curious to hear from people who have done the 58, or at least the top 5 or 6 hardest 14ers:

Which 14er, in your opinion, was the most difficult?
What made it the most difficult?
Was bad weather a factor?
Was rockfall a hazard?
Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or did you experience pretty much what you expected?
What hazards did it pose and how comfortable were you with those hazards?
Would you repeat it and why or why not?
How much did roped climbing (Class 5) help you prepare?
*Bonus question: if you have done difficult 13ers, which ones were harder than any 14er and why?
Last edited by SilverLynx on Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Hardest 14er?

Postby I Man » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:55 pm

Really???

C'mon now - there are 15,000 threads on this.


The reason you have so many different opinions is mountains are different on different days for different people, just like different people are bothered by different things.

Climb them all, then decide for yourself ](*,) \:D/ :-" [-X

"Difficult 13ers" are way harder than any 14er...that's also a silly question...
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Re: Hardest 14er?

Postby kansas » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:57 pm

Sounds like someone will need to smear on some bacon grease and make up.
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Re: Hardest 14er?

Postby SilverLynx » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:57 pm

I Man wrote:Really???

C'mon now - there are 15,000 threads on this.


The reason you have so many different opinions is mountains are different on different days for different people, just like different people are bothered by different things.

Climb them all, then decide for yourself ](*,) \:D/ :-" [-X

I know there are probably many threads on it, but new people finish all the time, and maybe they would like to share their experience?

I noticed several people have finished this year and I want to know what they think. Unlikely they will go dig up old threads!!!
Last edited by SilverLynx on Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hardest 14er?

Postby climbing_rob » Mon Aug 06, 2012 2:59 pm

Why not, I'll bite. Specifically:

Which 14er, in your opinion, was the most difficult? Easily, I'd say Little Bear.
What made it the most difficult? Long approach (up that damn road), tricky hourglass down-climb (when not a snow climb)
Was bad weather a factor? Nope. I've climbed it four times in stellar weather.
Was rockfall a hazard? Yes, absolutely. Even when no one is above you, everything funnels into one chute.
Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or did you experience pretty much what you expected? As expected.
What hazards did it pose and how comfortable were you with those hazards? Rockfall danger, plus a couple of tricky class-4 moves when descending
Would you repeat it and why or why not? I've climbed it four times, but only once "dry" (other times were snow climbs, much safer and easier that way)
How much did roped climbing (Class 5) help you prepare? We rapped down the tricky section when I climbed it dry, and I'm very comfortable rappelling.
*Bonus question: if you have done difficult 13ers, which ones were harder than any 14er and why? Dallas and Jagged were more difficult, but none of the other high-100. Plenty of other lowere 13ers are more difficult.
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby ChrisinAZ » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:20 pm

Of the 7 hardest, the only one I haven't done yet is N Maroon. My thoughts on the others:

Capitol and Little Bear are head and shoulders above the rest in difficulty. Pyramid, the Needle, and Sunlight, while certainly some level of challenging, seem to be overrated in difficulty. Between Capitol, LB, and Wilson, I'd rank them in that order as first, second, and third in difficulty. I would not repeat LB except by the SW ridge, and even then--along with Capitol and Wilson--only with a lot of arm-twisting. Pyramid, the Needle, and Sunlight were a delight to climb. All climbs were done in good weather.

Capitol: while this doesn't have the hardest moves of any 14er (most of it was more like difficult class 3, with only two real 4th class sections), it's nevertheless a long side trek on sometimes-loose rock with often-horrifying exposure. No, the knife edge(s) are not even close to the hardest/scariest part of this climb, though they do require some attention. Physically, Capitol isn't that horrible; mentally, I felt more drained than after taking the MCAT. Except for battle-hardened exposure enthusiasts, this mountain will rattle your nerves.

Little Bear: this is a case of one short, but overwhelmingly scary pitch dominating the route. 98% of the climb isn't that bad--the first gully, the traverse below the west ridge, the terrain starting up the Hourglass, and everything above the anchor point is very manageable, class 3 at most. However, the Hourglass itself, which was wet when I climbed it, was every bit as scary as people say it is! In dry conditions (read: September), I don't think it would be near as bad, but with water on the route, this was the one place I've felt less in control of myself than on any other mountain...it's not a good feeling. I would also readily agree that the standard route is the most dangerous of any 14er standard route, but hardest != most dangerous. I did not use the rope on the ascent, and descended a different route.

Little Bear by the SW ridge is a physically trying endeavor, but from a technical level, it's definitely easier than the Hourglass or even Capitol. You trade in steep, slick gully rock for exposed, narrow ridgelines and ledges. With good route-finding, you can keep this route at class 3+, and I found most of the ridgeline to be a blast. There's one knife edge between the false summit and SLB that's about as scary as Capitol's, but you can allegedly drop below it and avoid it. Even by the SW ridge, though, I'd keep this in the top 3 or 4.

Mt. Wilson: this has a combination of steep 4th class climbing and exposure not really seen on any other standard route, but it's for all of 50 vertical feet. And if you've done the El Diente-Wilson traverse just before, it will seem like just another part of the ridge. What seemed to really add to the difficulty was the descent down the loose, steep crap on or near the standard route, but we may have been off route to some extent. I was very uncomfortable on the loose stuff, but it was more tedious than dangerous, probably.

EDIT: I've now done both N and S Maroon, here're my thoughts: N Maroon is very, very similar to Pyramid in difficulty and fun level. I'd give Pyramid a bit of an edge in difficulty, but if you can do one, you can do the other. S Maroon proved to be a much easier climb in terms of technical difficulty and exposure than I was expecting. S Maroon, if you catch the left-more of the two trails to the ridge, isn't that bad/loose/steep (though 2800' of uphill is still a long haul no matter how you slice it). The last 800' to the top? All three of us felt it was cake compared to what we were expecting--almost never very exposed, not all that much class 3 if your route-finding is good, and more solid rock than I was expecting. That intimidating-looking ledge crossing in Bill's photo #18 was, in real life, not bad at all--you're much further from the edge than you'd expect, and are on a flat, solid dirt trail. We nailed the route-finding in both directions, and were on top in 1:15 from the saddle.

So, my ADJUSTED ranking:
1. Capitol
2. Little Bear

3. Wilson
4. Pyramid (switched this and N Maroon)
5. N. Maroon
6. Sunlight

7. El Diente
8. Snowmass

(a few other peaks, probably including S Maroon)

?. Crestone Needle
Last edited by ChrisinAZ on Mon Sep 03, 2012 1:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 06, 2012 3:29 pm

I thought the hardest section was the short chimney on North Maroon but otherwise North Maroon was fairly tame, quite fun though. I thought Little Bear was easier but I didn't have to downclimb the Hourglass because I did the traverse to Blanca. South Maroon was probably the biggest grunt, mainly because the tundra at the beginning seemed to go on forever and there was quite a bit of route finding on the other side. I didn't think Capitol was all that difficult but it was probably number 1 on the fun factor if you don't count the Little Bear/Blanca traverse, especially if you add the ridge from the Capitol/Daly saddle to K2. The Sunlight summit block and the descent down onto the Knife Edge from K2 was the most airy. Honorable mention for airness was Mt. Wilson's final summit ridge if you stay on the ridge.

Storms? Yes to all mentioned above.
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby Sugar Madison » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:24 pm

Which 14er, in your opinion, was the most difficult?
- Handies

What made it the most difficult?
- The 62.5 mile approach from Silverton and the 40 mile descent back to Silverton

Was bad weather a factor?
- Yes

Was rockfall a hazard?
- Not really, others knocked some rockfall on me on Grant-Swamp Pass, near Ophir.

Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or did you experience pretty much what you expected?
- It was what I expected, I've done it three times.

What hazards did it pose and how comfortable were you with those hazards?
- Several creek crossings, scree fields, lightning, hail, rain, hypothermia, hyponatremia, rhabdomyolosis, missing time cut-offs, getting lost, getting off course, injuries, blisters, sore quads, traveling at night. I am fine w/ all but the lightning.

Would you repeat it and why or why not?
- Absolutely, hopefully next summer, if the lottery gods smile on me again.

How much did roped climbing (Class 5) help you prepare?
- There was no roped climbing. South Mineral Creek was roped, and some years Virginius pass is roped...but there's no roped climbing.
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby SilverLynx » Mon Aug 06, 2012 5:30 pm

Sugar Madison wrote:Which 14er, in your opinion, was the most difficult?
- Handies

What made it the most difficult?
- The 62.5 mile approach from Silverton and the 40 mile descent back to Silverton

Was bad weather a factor?
- Yes

Was rockfall a hazard?
- Not really, others knocked some rockfall on me on Grant-Swamp Pass, near Ophir.

Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or did you experience pretty much what you expected?
- It was what I expected, I've done it three times.

What hazards did it pose and how comfortable were you with those hazards?
- Several creek crossings, scree fields, lightning, hail, rain, hypothermia, hyponatremia, rhabdomyolosis, missing time cut-offs, getting lost, getting off course, injuries, blisters, sore quads, traveling at night. I am fine w/ all but the lightning.

Would you repeat it and why or why not?
- Absolutely, hopefully next summer, if the lottery gods smile on me again.

How much did roped climbing (Class 5) help you prepare?
- There was no roped climbing. South Mineral Creek was roped, and some years Virginius pass is roped...but there's no roped climbing.


Nice work!!!
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby pstew85 » Mon Aug 06, 2012 6:45 pm

Sugar Madison wrote:Which 14er, in your opinion, was the most difficult?
- Handies

What made it the most difficult?
- The 62.5 mile approach from Silverton and the 40 mile descent back to Silverton

Was bad weather a factor?
- Yes

Was rockfall a hazard?
- Not really, others knocked some rockfall on me on Grant-Swamp Pass, near Ophir.

Were you overwhelmed, underwhelmed, or did you experience pretty much what you expected?
- It was what I expected, I've done it three times.

What hazards did it pose and how comfortable were you with those hazards?
- Several creek crossings, scree fields, lightning, hail, rain, hypothermia, hyponatremia, rhabdomyolosis, missing time cut-offs, getting lost, getting off course, injuries, blisters, sore quads, traveling at night. I am fine w/ all but the lightning.

Would you repeat it and why or why not?
- Absolutely, hopefully next summer, if the lottery gods smile on me again.

How much did roped climbing (Class 5) help you prepare?
- There was no roped climbing. South Mineral Creek was roped, and some years Virginius pass is roped...but there's no roped climbing.


awesome!
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby randalmartin » Mon Aug 06, 2012 7:50 pm

From my very modest experience on more difficult terrain so far (e.g. Longs Loft Up/Keyhole down, Pyramid, Sunlight, Eolus, Lindsey NW Ridge Class 4) I can say that loose is FAR more scary than exposure. I was very comfortable on the class 4 face on Lindsey's NW ridge. But a very loose gully with easily started rockfall is far more scary to me.

Exposure can certainly elicit fear but when you have bomber holds and obvious lines the exposure becomes much less noticeable to me.
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Re: Hardest 14er? 2012

Postby blazebo » Mon Aug 06, 2012 10:26 pm

Mt hunter is the hardest 14er that I have come across. Two attempts and I still havent stood on top of that beast. 2014 shall be the year of redemption!

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