Youngster on a 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Youngster on a 14er

Postby floodin1 » Wed May 16, 2007 12:02 pm


I'm a longtime lurker and have really enjoyed this site for its information. I climbed my first 14er last year after receiving a double lung transplant in 2003. I liked it so much, I'd like to get my wife and daughter to share the fun with me. We like the San Juans and from what I've read, Handies is a good mountain for a beginner. My girl is 6 yrs old and I'm on the fence whether she is too young to attempt a hike like this. Is there another class 1 14er that has its trailhead near its peak (besides one that has a road to the top) that someone would suggest. I want her to work for it a little bit so she can be proud of her accomplishment.

Thanks for any input.

Enjoying my second wind. Give life, Be an organ donor. Recieved Dbl lung transplant in 2003.
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Postby zacob » Wed May 16, 2007 12:12 pm

Antero after the snowmelt if you have a half way descent 4x4 you can park around 13,000 feet in a flat grassy section that still leaves you with over a 1000 feet for her to climb and a nice ridge I took my boy and each had a friend they are typical kids play out side but no real training or serious constant exercise. both have asthma and both did just fine. the youngest two were 6 & 7 at the time. I opted for Antero because I knew that I could get high enough that they wouldn't get discouraged and turn want to quit and I knew that it would leave enough of a challenge for them feel like they accomplished something.

search for Scott Patterson and you will find a ton of post about the climbs he has taken his son on he is pretty much the defacto expert on kids as i think his son is now approaching five and has a pretty impressive climbing resume already.

no need to post again... But see Scotts Stuff below...Told you he knew what he was talking about...
Last edited by zacob on Wed May 16, 2007 12:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Scott P » Wed May 16, 2007 12:15 pm

We like the San Juans and from what I've read, Handies is a good mountain for a beginner. My girl is 6 yrs old and I'm on the fence whether she is too young to attempt a hike like this. Is there another class 1 14er that has its trailhead near its peak (besides one that has a road to the top) that someone would suggest. I want her to work for it a little bit so she can be proud of her accomplishment.

Hmmmm, do I dare post? Children on the 14ers and what age is a touchy subject on the forum.

Here is my own opinion:

No, she is not too young. There is no reason that kids shouldn't climb the mountains in my opinion, as long as it is done safely.

If interested, here are some of the albums for my son (for example): ... Age-4.html ... Age-3.html

A few 14er specific trip reports: ... indom.html ... tempt.html

He's done several 14ers and is going to do an 18,600 foot mountain plus a 100 miles hike in a few months (age 5). While at age 4 Kessler was getting up to 14 miles a day, up to 4000 feet elevation gain a day, and climbing at a low 5th class level. Not all kids could (or should) do that, but I’m just mentioning it to encourage that with rigorous, but enjoyable training, kids can do some fantastic things. Just let the kid set the pace. Some kids don’t like walking long distances, but some love it. Use patience. Listen to your daughter and what she is telling you and how she feels.

Train first and I think that Handies would be reasonable. Watch the weather.

Other good 14ers to start with are Sherman, Quandary, or Bierstadt.

It’s a bit longer, but my son absolutely loved Huron. Mount Windom was his most favorite of all, but takes several days (with a kid at least).

Once again, go for it, but be prepared, and most of all, know when to turn back. If the weather is bad, or the time is past 11am, or the child is not feeling well, it’s time to head down the mountain. As long as you are prepared, know when to turn back and if weather and conditions are good, I see know reason not to attempt a 14er with a healthy child.

PS, if you want to get out with Kessler and I, you could join us for some trips.

Good luck
Last edited by Scott P on Wed May 16, 2007 1:02 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Postby P and P Dad » Wed May 16, 2007 12:17 pm

My daughter is 8 and we are going to do her first this year as well. (not sure which one) She has done alot of hiking over the years including a really good down and up at the grand canyon this spring. I think any of the easy or mod peaks would be good for them.

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1. Everyone has to be having fun

2. Everyone has to be having fun

3. Lastly, Everyone has to be having fun
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Postby Timmy » Wed May 16, 2007 12:26 pm

Scott Patterson wrote:Hmmmm, do I dare post?

Oh, please do :twisted:

I agree with Scott re: Sherman. There's 3 old mines and lots of structures which can be explored. The Hill Top mine in particular is at 13,000 feet and the trail runs right through the middle of it. This offers a diversion to the 'ordinary' climbs where the scenery does not change much - especially above tree-line.

The short climb itself is as easy as Handies and you could park at tree-line.
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Postby viejo » Wed May 16, 2007 12:55 pm

I have two daughters, and have been taking them out off and on since they were 6 months old. Had not done a 14'er with them, but they did get up Square Top and Audobon at 6 - 8 years old.

I'd echo Scott's sentiments, and emphasize that when you take your child out, you're doing it for them. Some kids don't handle altitude well, so be open to this. Be careful to discern the difference between challenging them vs. driving them beyond the point of enjoying the experinece.

Make sure they and you are having fun. The mountaineering experience should not be a sufferfest, especially for a 6 year old.

Enjoy yourselves, and don't be afraid to turn back if the situation calls for it. The experience and the journey are much more important than the summit.
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Postby rlw49 » Wed May 16, 2007 1:00 pm

Double lunger!! Congratulations, that's an impressive feat!

All the above info is great, and you can turn around anytime, if you have to.
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Postby cftbq » Wed May 16, 2007 1:03 pm


Yes; she can do it. Handies is an excellent choice. It's easy, and short, and almost any car can get to the trailhead. Those are precisely the reasons why I am reserving it for my last fourteener: everyone can join me to celebrate. Go for it, and enjoy the view, and know that you've helped start your daughter on a life-long adventure!
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Another Option

Postby Nutrition_Guy » Sun May 20, 2007 3:41 pm

If you are a little concerned about the "Escape route"... Last year I was hiking up Pikes Peak from the crags trail head and met a father and his son Mitchel. Mitch was 4 years old and hiking GREAT. There plan was to hike UP and meet mom at the peak hut and drive down.

It may not be a bad idea to plan a one way hike but from looking at Scott Patterson's pictures....I'm truly amazed!! I liked his advice about "good training" Perhaps when to turn around may be the best piece of advice you will ever teach your child regarding the outdoors and mountain climbing.

My son is 17 months old. We do a lot of trail walking with him. We let him walk as far as he wants and then put him in the back pack carrier. I hope that some day he will enjoy the outdoors as much as many of the other posters on this string.

When your only tool is a hammer, everybody starts lookin' like a nail.
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Postby rocky18 » Sun May 20, 2007 5:07 pm

Handies would be great for her. It was my first (at age 7) and my 5 year old brother was with me. And it has amazing views all along the hike.
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