First 14ers, Camping near Leadville, mid-july

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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First 14ers, Camping near Leadville, mid-july

Postby Prahs » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:13 am

A tentative trip Itinerary i have for climbing near Leadville is: Mt Elbert, Mt Massive, Mt Harvard, La Plata Peak. Would these be too much for a first timer in 5-6 days? Any good guide books for these 14ers? Any other suggestions or words of wisdom from would be much appreciated. Thanks!
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Postby rlynn » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:24 am

For a first timer, four 14ers in 6 days could POSSIBLY be pretty tough. It depends on the kind of shape you're in and your mental discipline. The hardest part will be your head telling your feet and knees that they don't hurt.

The best book I've come across is Gerry Roach's Guide to the Colorado 14ers. Just about every bookstore has it, and I got my copy from Amazon. Good luck with your trip.
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Postby TalusMonkey » Tue Apr 17, 2007 11:35 am


Routes for of the mountains you list can also be found in Volume 1 (The Northern Peaks) of Dawson's guide to the Colorado 14ers. However, the "standard" routes are best covered in the route descriptions on this website. Armed with these maps, photos and written route descriptions, you'll be in good shape (certainly better than the outdated Roach and Dawson book routes).
"When hiking in bear country one doesn't need to be the fastest runner in the party - just not the slowest."
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Postby Joe32 » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:03 pm

Where are you coming from?
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Postby Jim Davies » Tue Apr 17, 2007 12:21 pm

Your heading mentioned camping, so...

There are lots of good free roadside campsites along the Halfmoon Creek road, mostly a mile or so before the common trailhead for Elbert and Massive. There's also a Forest Service campground right at the trailhead, in case you want a picnic table and fire pit, etc. There are other FS campgrounds around Leadville, including a bunch around Turquoise Lake.

For La Plata (north side), there's camping along the Independence Pass road a mile or two past the trailhead, but nothing closer as far as I know (lots of private property). You can also camp along the (rough, but marginally passenger-car accessible) dirt road that the trail starts out on, but not until you're about two miles in from the highway.

The North Cottonwood Creek TH for Harvard has lots of informal campsites adjacent to the parking lot.

As for the 4 mountain in 6 days: just listen to what your body is telling you and adapt accordingly. Also drink lots of water and use sunscreen, and all that other 10-essentials stuff. :)
Climbing at altitude is like hitting your head against a brick wall — it's great when you stop. -- Chris Darwin
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Postby skyerunner » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:04 pm

That sounds like fun!
These peaks are some of the higher peaks, with longer approaches etc. It is definately doable if you are in good shape and determined. There are plenty of places to camp in this area, including (as previously mentioned) Twin Lakes which is a good starting point for many of these. Just be prepared for long days!
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Postby gdthomas » Mon Apr 30, 2007 9:33 pm

Your itinerary is definitely doable in the summer for a reasonably competant hiker/climber living in Colorado. None of the peaks you intend to climb are particularly difficult (they are all Class 2 by their easiest route). However, coming from basically sea level, the altitude and unfamiliarity of these high mountains could pose a tough challenge for you. Your best chance for success will be to learn as much as you can about hiking the 14ers. Surf this site and read the guide book you eventually buy. The key will be to successfully climb the first peak (which should be Elbert) and use that knowledge when climbing the other mountains. Good luck.
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Postby beegee » Tue May 01, 2007 1:51 pm

We flew into Denver and drove up to Leadville from Arkansas a couple of years ago - basically went from 500 ft to 10,000 ft. All of our time schedules were really tight for us to all get away. We hiked Elbert the next day and planned on Massive the following day - however, going from 500 ft to 14,000+ in a day really hurt us - we scrapped the Massive attempt. We were all in good shape. I would strongly advise spending ample time acclimating.

Also - the Leadville Hostel is an awesome place to stay for cheap.
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Postby ccunnin » Tue May 01, 2007 3:48 pm

Lots of water and Ibuprofen.
The mental aspect is what seems to be the hardest to overcome. Once had a buddy of mine from Chicago come into town. Classic "A" personality and a hardcore go-getter. We did Massive, Elbert, and then La Plata after a days rest. That's three in four days. I've never seen him struggle until the last mile coming down La Plata. He was toast. He was asleep before we hit Twin Lakes. He did it though. The following three days were spent watching the Rockies play the Cubs and drinking plenty of beer.
In other words....good luck. Have fun.
He who controls the spice, controls the universe.

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