Newbie Question

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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NycICK
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Newbie Question

Postby NycICK » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:10 pm

Bit of a stupid question, I know. But I need to ask.

I'm still sort of new to 14er hiking. I've only done 4 of them and they were all in summer. This was mostly because I wanted to make sure I could still easily follow the trail.

That being said, I want to try a winter ascent soon, but I'm a little concerned about areas where the trail might be hard or even impossible to follow because of the snow blanket. What do you do in those situations? Do you just pick the path of least resistance and head up in snowshoes?
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Layne Bracy
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Postby Layne Bracy » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:22 pm

Plan your route out ahead of time, learning the essential features(ridges, valleys, lakes, summits, saddles etc.) of the terrain. Then, do the hike according to your plan.

If you are fortunate enough to have a trail to follow for some or all of the hike, great. If at some point you do not have a trail to follow, just stick to your plan.

You may have to make some decisions and adjustments along the way depending on the snow conditions you see. Also, the maps may not give you perfect information regarding smaller features that you can use or need to avoid, such as cliffs and towers.

For me, the more enjoyable outings have been ones where I had to make some decisions and figure things out, rather than just following a trail.
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thebeave7
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Postby thebeave7 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:21 pm

Yep, as Layne said when there is snow, just follow the path of least resistance. During snowy months one must avoid avalanche slopes while finding the easiest route up. I would recommend working on your map reading and route selection ability(aka route finding). When you get into more cross country hiking these two characteristics will become indispensible(not to mention necessary). For now I'd say start with a well traveled route, say Quandry or Elbert, read some online trip reports to get an idea of winter routes, then plan from there. Have fun and be safe.
Eric
PS Not to nitpick but it's SPRING!!! and winter is outta here.
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guitmo223
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Postby guitmo223 » Sat Mar 24, 2007 7:52 pm

Get a map and a compass, and use GPS. Use snowshoes and crampons if necessary.
Last edited by guitmo223 on Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Although prepared for martyrdom, I preferred it be postponed" - Sir Winston Churchill
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rollin
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Postby rollin » Sun Mar 25, 2007 6:16 am

Check avalanche warnings at http://avalanche.state.co.us/
usfgal
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Postby usfgal » Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:28 am

Be careful about following "the path of least resistance." Often, you can't see all of what lies in front of you. Print route descriptions, trip reports, pictures from various points on the trail (available on this site), maps, etc, and do as much advance planning as you can. If you are not using a navigation aid (well, even if you are, but esp if you aren't), be very observant as you are going up. Pay attention to your surroundings and the views looking down--it will save you some hassle if you lose the trail or if want to take a different route down once you hit a certain point. I got more into winter climbing this year that I ever was in the past and encountered a lot of unexpected frustrations. It was well worth it, especially now that I "paid my dues," so to speak, and I am comfortable with the activity. Prepare the best you can, but expect to face some unexpected and trying circumstances, not all of which are in your control.
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Scott P
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Postby Scott P » Mon Mar 26, 2007 9:57 am

but I'm a little concerned about areas where the trail might be hard or even impossible to follow because of the snow blanket. What do you do in those situations?


I use a map.

Do you just pick the path of least resistance and head up in snowshoes?


No. I choose the safest route regardless if it is the path of least resistance. Often times the safest route is not the easiest route.

Castle Peak is a good example. The easiest route up in winter or early spring is not the safest route. Same with La Plata, Capitol, and many other peaks.
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NycICK
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Postby NycICK » Mon Mar 26, 2007 11:39 am

Well by path of least resistance I meant the safest route. I'm not looking to do anything stupid. That's why I posted the question.

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