Winter Summits

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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14summits
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Winter Summits

Postby 14summits » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:36 pm

Relatively new to the Denver area and don't know much about the winter climbing scene here.
I'm looking for some less difficult/less technical mountains to climb with the possibly to board down.

I was thinking of Grays & Torreys, but was told Bierstadt might be better. Any suggestions on which ones to climb, or avoid?

Thanks in advance.
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby 14summits » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:53 pm

no. Just the 1st in Colorado. :)
I've got the gear and experience, just don't know where to start with so many great options.
Last edited by 14summits on Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby James Dziezynski » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:53 pm

Assuming you have your avy stuff under control and experience in winter conditions, you can't beat Quandary for 14ers. It's a moderate and relatively safe climb (check the avy conditions of course) but it's a nice moderate descent. You can always try to ride down the Evans road I suppose too :)
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby SurfNTurf » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:55 pm

Quandary East Ridge or Sherman South Slope.

The main issues are (1) avalanches and (2) access. The two above are the easiest 14er snow routes. They have minimal avalanche danger and you can get reasonably close to the summer THs year-round. The next tier of difficulty includes Elbert East Ridge, Bierstadt, Yale, Pikes and Humboldt. Grays/Torreys is reasonable if you don't mind slogging up the road from Bakerville and you skirt the avy slope on Kelso Mountain.
“There are two kinds of climbers: those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” - Alex Lowe

"There have been joys too great to describe in words, and there have been griefs upon which I cannot dare to dwell; and with those in mind I say, 'Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.'" - Edward Whymper
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14summits
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby 14summits » Mon Nov 14, 2011 8:58 pm

OneArmSteve wrote:i meant no disrespect. Sherman is good too.


No worries. Thanks
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby Jordan D » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:26 pm

I doubt the chances of skiing back down this time of year. 14ers are all boulders and wind, you'd have a hard time before January . Quandary is definitely my favorite cruiser as far as skiing goes
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby chrismjx » Mon Nov 14, 2011 10:50 pm

OneArmSteve wrote:by new to the winter climbing scene..... is that a loose translation by which you may mean this will be your first time ever?


I was thinking about maybe trying a winter climb and snowboard descent of Quandary this winter with a friend that I hike with often. In our case, this proposed trip would be both of our first 14ers in winter, as well as first time snowboarding down. I have a transceiver, shovel, and probe as I had planned to take a course or two, but haven't had an opportunity yet. He doesn't have any of that stuff, obviously making at least my transceiver useless. Also, we were discussing the wisdom of trying this with no experience, training, or ice axes etc. (which we wouldn't know how to use properly anyway). We're able-bodied young guys, and very capable boarders; the terrain from that aspect isn't our concern. I think primarily we are trying to learn as much as possible so hopefully we aren't surprised by anything nasty. Thoughts? Advice? I'm sure there's plenty.... :?:
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby SurfNTurf » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:42 am

chrismjx wrote:
OneArmSteve wrote:by new to the winter climbing scene..... is that a loose translation by which you may mean this will be your first time ever?


I was thinking about maybe trying a winter climb and snowboard descent of Quandary this winter with a friend that I hike with often. In our case, this proposed trip would be both of our first 14ers in winter, as well as first time snowboarding down. I have a transceiver, shovel, and probe as I had planned to take a course or two, but haven't had an opportunity yet. He doesn't have any of that stuff, obviously making at least my transceiver useless. Also, we were discussing the wisdom of trying this with no experience, training, or ice axes etc. (which we wouldn't know how to use properly anyway). We're able-bodied young guys, and very capable boarders; the terrain from that aspect isn't our concern. I think primarily we are trying to learn as much as possible so hopefully we aren't surprised by anything nasty. Thoughts? Advice? I'm sure there's plenty.... :?:


In good weather and most avalanche conditions, Quandary's East Ridge isn't much more difficult in winter than it is in summer. The mountain is so popular there's usually a good boot-packed track to follow. You'll probably want snowshoes for down low, but the ridge is pretty wind-scoured and you'll be on rocks or hard snow most of the hike. The angle never gets steep enough you'll need crampons. Microspikes would probably help for the last bit to the summit, where the route steepens. I always carry an ice ax in snow season, but Quandary is one of those climbs you'll almost definitely just leave it on your pack the whole time. Especially if you have trekking poles.

The East Ridge itself is pretty safe from avalanches, but if you venture to climber's right in abnormally bad avalanche conditions you might be playing with fire. Check the CAIC's website before you go, looking particularly at east-facing aspects above treeline.

All in all, if you have warm winter boots and plenty of layers, I wouldn't sweat too much about experience. Quandary is the quintessential beginner's winter climb. If you really want to play it safe there's a group Quandary trip that comes around every January. Look for a thread entitled January Quandary V or something similar in the coming weeks.
“There are two kinds of climbers: those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” - Alex Lowe

"There have been joys too great to describe in words, and there have been griefs upon which I cannot dare to dwell; and with those in mind I say, 'Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.'" - Edward Whymper
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby chrismjx » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:33 am

Thanks a lot SurfNTurf! I appreciate the insight and info very much :D
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Re: Winter Summits

Postby CRAIGO » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:00 pm

This topic seems to come up every year about this time. Here's a good one:

http://www.summitpost.org/colorado-14ers-in-winter/337648

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