1St 14er. Longs or Wetterhorn?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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El Vecio Bepi
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1St 14er. Longs or Wetterhorn?

Postby El Vecio Bepi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:49 pm

All ~

First of all, hi--I'm a transplanted European who grew up in the Dolomites region between Italy and Austria. I am not new to hiking/climbing, and I've done my share of Class III up in the Dolomites. However, I've never been at 14k, and although altitude never seemed to affect me, I know my body may spring a surprise on me upon my first 14er.

I'm thinking of starting out with a bang, either with Longs or the Wetterhorn. I am drawn to both of them because they remind me of home, with lots of scrambling, some Class III and the occasional exposure to thrilling drops--while not seeming too technical.

I've read most of the threads here, and there seem to be different criteria on how to to choose your first, so I hope you won't mind if I approach the question from a slightly different angle.

I'm unfortunately alone, since I haven't been able to sucker any of my friend into this adventure--most of them are not the hiking types. So here are my questions:

1 - Am I being unrealistic about starting with either of these? I am quite fit, but I understand there's a lot more involved.

2 - Am I silly for thinking of tackling any of them solo as my first ones?

3 - Between the two, which would be the better choice in terms of required skills--and reward?

4 - What would be the best time of year for either of them?

Thank you in advance for your help, and I apologize if you had to answer these kinds of questions 53 times before.
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Scott P
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Postby Scott P » Mon Mar 12, 2007 1:56 pm

1 - Am I being unrealistic about starting with either of these? I am quite fit, but I understand there's a lot more involved.


Not if what you say above is true. They would fit the bill for the following: with lots of scrambling, some Class III and the occasional exposure to thrilling drops--while not seeming too technical.


2 - Am I silly for thinking of tackling any of them solo as my first ones?


Not if you use common sense, and you would probably never be solo on Longs during the summer season unless the Park Service still has it classified as "technical conditions". In that case, you might be solo.

Wetterhorn you wouldn't be solo on a weekend in summer. Possibly during the week.

3 - Between the two, which would be the better choice in terms of required skills--and reward?


I like the Wetterhorn the best, but it is just a matter of personal taste. Longs is nice too, but I like the views from the Wetterhorn slightly more.

4 - What would be the best time of year for either of them?


Mid-July through mid-September is usually the easiest time to climb them.
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Postby ThinAir » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:11 pm

Those are both good choices. Longs tends to have ALOT more traffic than the Wetterhorn, as its in RMNP. Having done em both, i prefer the Wetterhorn. Beautiful alpine meadows in the high San Juans provide an amazing landscape. Of course, that was in late-summer. Fact is, if your as fit as you say, there are plenty of good choices. As for partners, just hit up this board before you go and ill bet you have no prob rallying a crew. Enjoy.
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Postby gdthomas » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:15 pm

Wetterhorn is the "easier" of the two by their standard routes. Wetterhorn has less vertical (3,300 ft vs 4,900 ft), less mileage (7 mi RT vs. 16 mi RT) and the class 3 portion of the climb is much shorter. The view from the top of Wetterhorn is better IMO and there will be fewer people on the trail but climbing Long's is more rewarding in terms of physical achievement. Plus, you can see Long's from Denver so you can point it out to all of your "non-sucker" friends.
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El Vecio Bepi
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Postby El Vecio Bepi » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:25 pm

Thank you, all, for the informative and kind replies.

So far the advice seems to lean towards the Wetterhorn. Also, being the easier of the two, it may give me a better chance to test out my very old-fashioned gear--which may be OK for Europe but not suited for the Rockies.

Bepi
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Jim Davies
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Postby Jim Davies » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:45 pm

I'd go for Wetterhorn. The summit pitch is great fun, and you can bag a few other 14ers in the area on the same trip if you wish (Handies via Grizzly Gulch, class 1/2, is also near Lake City and a beautiful wildflower/mushrooming hike in mid-summer).
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 shanahan96 » Mon Mar 12, 2007 2:52 pm

definitely wetterhorn. if you find that it doesn't work with the gear you're testing or any other reason you have the option of hiking up broken hill and/or matterhorn, both ranked 13ers. being in the san juans never seemed to hurt anyone either.

jamie
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Matt
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Postby Matt » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:16 pm

I agree with all the pro-Wetterhorn stuff, especially with Handies and the other Lake City Peaks so close by. Wetterhorn one day and Handies the next would be several miles shorter(but ~800ft more vert) than a single day on Long's.
gdthomas is right, though, that Long's leaves one with a much greater sense of accomplishment.
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Postby USAKeller » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:19 pm

And yet another vote for Wetterhorn (although I haven't climbed Longs Peak yet)- it's really a fun scramble to the summit. Hit up Uncompahgre as well- easy and beautiful hike! :D .
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Postby Lhotse » Mon Mar 12, 2007 7:55 pm

Gotta put in a vote for Long's Peak. It's one of my favorite mountains. Just climb it before the herd starts climbing.
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El Vecio Bepi
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Postby El Vecio Bepi » Wed Mar 14, 2007 1:10 pm

Again, thanks for the advice. Lhotse, Long is on my short list too, so I'll do that very soon.

One last question about the Wetterhorn around end of July: helmet or no hemet for the rocky section?
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Postby shanahan96 » Wed Mar 14, 2007 2:00 pm

always wear a helmet, you never know when you might need one.

jamie

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