14er Trip: Realistic or To Aggressive

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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14er Trip: Realistic or To Aggressive

Postby JeffL » Wed Apr 18, 2007 5:49 am

I'm planning a trip for the first week in August to climb several 14ers. This will be my first trip to Colorado geared specifically to climbing. It will be myself and my 8 year old son. He climbed Quadalupe peak, TX last year without any trouble. We were skiing in Breckenridge in March and he seemed to adjust to the altitude well. I attempted Quandary while on that trip but turned around at 13,534. Thinking back on it I probably could have finished but I had told myself that if I hadn't reached the summit by my turn around time I would turn back.

For acclimatization we'll have 2 nights sleeping above 9000 feet but the climbs will be on consecutive days.

Here is the basic itinerary for my August trip:
Friday Evening - Arrive at the Dillon Reservoir Campgrounds
Saturday - Acclimatization Day, Maybe short hike to gain some altitude
Sunday - Quandary (Pre-Dawn Start 5:30)
Monday - Gray/Torreys Combo (Pre-Dawn Start 5:30) Torreys can always be scratched if we're not feeling up to it. Relocate camp to Turquoise Lake, Leadville
Tuesday - Mt Elbert (Pre-Dawn Start 5:30)

I have a couple of question. Firstly is this schedule to aggressive? .Secondly, is there any real benefit to taking a short hike to gain altitude on the acclimatization day or am I better off just relaxing around camp?
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Postby frozenfire075 » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:03 am

first of all, i have a tough time telling anyone that something is too aggressive for them, because many people have uselessly told me the same. This schedule is not too agressive, just very tough. I don't know what kind of shape you or your son are in, but those four mountains on consecutive days will be rough, especially elbert the last day. you are talking about nearly 12,000' vertical gain over those three days, but go for it, you will never know your capabilities till you come to your limit. One weekend of mine last august was sat: shavano and tabeguache and sunday: redcloud, sunshine, handies
all the 14ers are relatively easy but pushin my body that far was still tough

good luck!
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Postby Cruiser » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:38 am

That sounds like fun to me. The only suggestions that I would make are:
1. Be sure that all your gear works well before you come out. One bad blister on Quandary could stop you from making it to Elbert. Make sure that your sleeping system works well, one restless night could really impact your trip since the hikes are so close together.
2. You might think about trying Quandary on Saturday in order to take a rest day in there between Grays and Torreys / Elbert. In my view (I'll probably get some flack for this) acclimating to elevation in Colorado is over-rated. Drive up, get a good night's rest, stay thoroughly hydrated, and then go hiking. If you feel like one of you can't make it on Quandary on Saturday then turn around and get another good night's rest and try it again in the morning.

Oh, and be sure to post a trip report with some good pictures.
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14er Trip: Realistic or To Aggressive

Postby James Scott » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:43 am

Agreed- I really get into the idea of pushing myself and seeing just how far I can go before falling down. I'm planning a day this summer with 6 Summits, about 25 miles, and probably 10000 feet in elevation gain, which will probably be too much. The one thing I'm telling myself and will tell you is to be open to changing plans and scratching some of it if it's too much. I get in trouble when I won't listen to my body when it's telling me "Time to stop" and end up overextending. If you get to day 3 and wake up sore and fatigued, pass on Elbert. If you feel great, go for it. Just listen to your body and be open to changing your plans when it tells you to.
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Postby Scott P » Wed Apr 18, 2007 6:46 am

Firstly is this schedule to aggressive?

No, not at all. Unless you have altitude problems it is very reasonable., assuming you practice plenty before hand.

Secondly, is there any real benefit to taking a short hike to gain altitude on the acclimatization day or am I better off just relaxing around camp?

Yes, I believe there is definately benifits to doing a short hike.

You seem to be starting early, which is a good idea. As long as the weather is good and you don't have any unusual problems with the altitude, you should be fine. If you are feeling the altitude, just turn back and spend some more time a bit lower.
Last edited by Scott P on Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Rivethead » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:09 am


I'm in a very similar situation. We're planning a late July one-week stay. It'll be me, my brother in-law, and my 8 year old son doing the hiking/climbing.

Here's our tentative schedule:

Saturday: Arrive at condo on Buffalo Mtn. Rest, relax, acclimate.
Sunday: Climb Buffalo Mtn (12,777ft)
Monday: Short day hike (Lily Pad Lake on Buffalo), some fishing, some driving around, shopping, etc.
Tuesday: Quandary
Wednesday: Another day hike (Mohawk Lakes maybe)
Thursday: Torreys/Grays or Decalibron (if open)
Friday: Father Dyer/Crystal/? route (recommended in another thread on this board as a good introduction to Class 3 stuff...I want to see if I can handle it).
Saturday: return home

As you can see from the schedule, we're going to build slowly and end agressively! I don't know if my 37 year old body can take it, but I started training in February for this.

My biggest concern is my 8 year old. He's in pretty good shape. But I have no idea how he'll handle the altitude or climbing. He definitely wants to attempt Buffalo (because he hopes there are mountain goats at the top). He's unsure of Quandary or the other peaks. I guess I'll just see how it goes and adjust accordingly.

Best of luck to you!
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Postby summitrunner » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:50 am

That Saturday take a hike up Mount Royal in Frisco, Tenderfoot Mountain in Dillon, or any of these hikes in this link. Look all the way at the bottom of this page for an interactive map.

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Postby JeffL » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:02 am

Rivethead wrote:I don't know if my 37 year old body can take it, but I started training in February for this.

Us "old" guys can handle it.

I was a week shy of 40 when I attempted Quandary in March. I trained for 8 weeks prior. I eventually turned around at 13,534 for a couple of reasons. First I was very conservative in my turnaround time. Probably too conservative. But I was going solo. Secondly, while snowshoeing isn't difficult to master. I found that hiking in snow is a lot like walking in wet sand. The snow really saps your energy.

Quandary is a nice hike and I'm looking forward to going back and finishing it up.
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Postby davidameyer » Wed Apr 18, 2007 12:47 pm

Jeff...I've got some similar experience to you in that I'm originally from Texas and used to make some trips to Colorado to climb 14'ers from Texas before getting stationed in ABQ. I'm not sure about your overall fitness level, but if you and your son are in good shape and get acclimated fairly quickly, your plan is accomplishable. However, I would warn you that although Guadalupe peak is similar in terms of ruggedness and elevation gain to the 14'ers you are attempting, it is not near as high when it tops out (8748ft vs 14433ft for Elbert). A lot of folks encounter a lot of problems with altitude sickness when they get above 10,000 ft. Anyway, if you need any more help, let me know.

Good luck!

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Postby guitmo223 » Wed Apr 18, 2007 7:18 pm

I think that is a very reasonable schedule. You may want to spend a bit more time acclimatizing, but it is easily doable.

I read your profile, and this really is a wonderful activity to do with your kids. They'll remember it all their lives.
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Postby Vick » Wed Apr 18, 2007 10:09 pm

This trip sounds awesome. Your son will look back on it and really feel blessed in years to come as I wish I could have done something similar. A buddy of mine and I are driving from NC to Utah and spending about 6 days there before we head to Colorado for a week. We are hoping for 7 summits in our time there. I think it is definately tough but doable as well. Best of luck!
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Postby rob runkle » Thu Apr 19, 2007 7:33 am

Very realistic.

Here was my first trip to Colorado for 14ers:

Night 1 - Fly in at 10pm and travel to Grays/Torreys TH to sleep
Day 1 - Grays, Torreys, and Bierstadt
Day 2 - Longs Pk
Day 3 - Lincoln/Democrat/Bross
Day 4 - Sherman, then Quandry.

So, your trip is definitely doable. The key is being in the shape to do it. Acclimatization is helpful, but as you can see, I don't do it. But, barring some great acclimatization, the key thing is to know the signs of AMS, and be ready to back down if it gets too bad. And, most importantly, HYDRATE, HYDRATE, HYDRATE. This is more important than ANY amount of acclimatization.

You should be fine, not sure how an 8 year old will do. But, kids tend to be pretty darn tough.

PS> Your agenda means alot of jumping around. Sherman and Lincoln/Democrat/Bross are much better if you are staying in the Quandry area. Of course, your agenda offers a great variety, and of course, you get the high point of CO.

PSS> Don't scratch Torreys. If you need to scratch Torreys, then you probably should have already ditched Grays. Torreys is probably the easiest "second peak" in all the combos. Plus, when you come back off of Torreys, you don't have to re-summit Grays. So, escape does not involve going back to 14,000...


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