Good first alpine climb

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Good first alpine climb

Postby mike526 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:17 pm

I Normally post on Mt. Project but figured i would give here a try. I Have hiked pikes peak and Bierstadt in the winter and have a partner who is currently interested in doing a alpine style climb.

I currently Lead 5.4 5.5 trad and was looking for a good easier hike climb that might have some 5th class climbing with it.

routes i have looked at that have been suggested to me are spiral route of notchtop or east gully of sharktooth, or southwest ridge of longs.

any suggestions from the 14er crowd here? thinking of late march early april depending on conditions.

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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby MtnClimber82 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:30 pm

Personally, I'd recommend waiting until July or August to climb your first alpine route. Warmer temps and longer days may make your experience more enjoyable (though you then have to worry about afternoon electrical storms).

Second I'd go with a route well within your range because often times the alpine rock/conditions is less than ideal plus you are at altitude. Beyond that, if you are climbing at grade, you hypothetically have a bigger chance of taking a fall and maybe getting hurt. Rescue (self or professional) is more difficult in the high country.

A good climb to do might be the Spiral Route on Devil's Thumb. You can find it on MP, I think it is 5.2 or 5.3.

This summer we did the 5.5 on the 2nd Apron of Mt Evans and the 5.6 route on Sharkstooth. Both were enjoyable but had their challenges. We did Evans in Mid Sept and nearly froze because we weren't expecting to be in the shade all day and Sharkstooth had a lot of loose rock on it. Also, we didn't plan for as much snow as there was and were both caught without axes where we definitely should have had them for the approach (all our fault for not researching better) but it all adds to the mental and physical challenge of alpine climbing.

Good luck and I hope your first few climbs in the alpine are a success!
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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby mike526 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:04 pm

thanks for the advice, i agree later in the year would probably give better conditions. Doing owen spaulding this July for sure on the grand can't wait.
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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby kamiller43 » Wed Oct 31, 2012 4:15 pm

I would not recommend the East gully on Sharkstooth. We climbed the Northeast ridge last summer and the east gully is the rap route. Very loose and you could get rocks knocked down from parties descending.
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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby DaveSwink » Wed Oct 31, 2012 5:57 pm

You probably know this, but just the approach to Sharkstooth will be a major undertaking in March.
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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:33 pm

Spend the time till next Fall working on climbing. It's easy to get to the 5.9 level, with a little effort and persistence.

Then, echoing to some degree what others have said here, go after the beginning alpine stuff during better alpine conditions. Primo conditions are often found in September. Dry periods in summer can be good as well.

Ellingwood Arete is a sweet 5.7 route with a 5.9 variation if desired. Tops out on Crestone Needle. Well worth doing.

Another route that is technically easier and much shorter for the technical section is Cables (north face) on Longs. They even put the pro in for you! :-D Though seriously, I'd take a light rack to supplement. I think it's rated 5.4. Do it in late summer or early fall to avoid snow. Expect water on the route if it's been a heavier snow year. Good first alpine climb.

A third suggestion; not actually fifth class, but worthy of mention: North Ridge on Kit Carson. While it's fourth class, it's a wonderful route on solid rock, and may be a good prelude to fifth class alpine.

Good luck; be safe, have fun!
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Re: Good first alpine climb

Postby Jesse M » Wed Oct 31, 2012 7:45 pm

Check out the SW ridge of Sneffels. It might be what you are looking for. I am not an expert on alpine climbing, but this is a neat climb of a 14er in spring.

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