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Best Non-Standard Routes?

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby madbuck » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:46 am

I know most of the popular non-standard routes are sizeable jumps in difficulty (Class 4/5 ridge runs on otherwise easier mountains), but I've enjoyed a few easier Class 2 non-standard routes as well. In fact, my wife is the one who first wanted to hike 14ers, but I wanted to minimize crowds, so we looked for easier alternatives for most of our first hikes:
La Plata SW Ridge - our first, and the TH drive was prettier than going right off of 82, not to mention the wildflowers, basin, and hike up the headwall.
Huron - over Brown's mountain. Uncrowded, nice views, extra peak. Easy loop with annoying CFI switchback standard route.
Elbert - Black Cloud. My wife's favourite, nice views in lower basin and extra-credit summit of South Elbert
Handies - Grizzly Gulch. Less crowded, scenic basin, great loop with American Basin. Waterfall just off the road on the loop hike that we would have missed if we drove.
Massive - SW slopes. Scenic, direct, uncrowed, some snowfield glissaditunities on the way down

I'll also throw in Mt. Evans bike from Idaho Springs, and hope to check out Pikes on bike as well.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby tlongpine » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:00 am

madbuck wrote:I'll also throw in Mt. Evans bike from Idaho Springs, and hope to check out Pikes on bike as well.


:lol: I've done Evans on my bike a few times and love it - especially the descent. I need to make time for a pedal-powered Pikes Peak assent as well.
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

It can wait forever. I cannot.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby smoove » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:00 am

I see you haven't done Princeton yet. Try the Grouse Canyon route. Far more scenic, some route-finding challenges below treeline, a ton of challenging elevation gain over a short distance, a long, exposed ridge, and a couple class 3 spots.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby Dan_Suitor » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:03 am

Kit Carson Peak – North Ridge. I like it because of the class 4 challenge and exposure, with good solid rock. I describe it like climbing a ladder for 1 ½ hours. Being able to take the standard route down to the same starting point avoiding the class 4 down climb is also a plus.

Mt. of the Holy Cross – Halo Ridge was also a lot of fun. Looking back at the ridge from the summit gives one a great sense of accomplishment.

I’m looking forward to doing La Plata Peak’s Ellingwood Ridge in a couple of weeks, I hear it’s a fun challenge.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby semitrueskerm » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:05 am

The West Slope of Snowmass is a ball of fun.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby JimR » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:19 am

Of the non-standard routes that I've done, my two favorites would probbaly be
Class 2: Columbia from Frenchman Creek (I can't imagine why anyone with a 4WD would do the standard Columbia route.)
Class 3: Quandary west ridge
What makes them stand out is how much better they are than the standard routes on those mountains.
Kelso Ridge also falls in that category, but for some reason I'm sort of lukewarm on it. And the Sawtooth is a nice way to get to Evans, except that you have to go down Bierstadt.
Missouri from Clohesy Lake is probably better than the standard route, but I haven't done the standard route in a long time, so it may have been improved. Clohesy Lake requires 4WD, but the route provides the option of a nice loop over Iowa and Emerald.
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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby Chicago Transplant » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:22 am

Pretty much any popular 14er is better on a non-standard route to avoid crowds of people doing things that have been the subject of recent threads. A few good ones:

3 Elk Creek on Columbia - Everyone who rags on Columbia for being a loose scree mess would be surprised this is even the same mountain.
Frenchman Creek on Harvard
East Ridge on Yale
Grays and Torreys loop from Chihuahua Gulch

Then there are a few that are just more enjoyable in my opinion due to generally avoiding loose crappy gullies:
NW Face on Little Bear
NW Ridge on Lindsay
SW Ridge on Sneffels
NW Face of Wilson Peak as a snow climb (ONLY as a snow climb, you don't want to climb this route dry!!)
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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby Doctor No » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:45 am

JimR wrote:Missouri from Clohesy Lake is probably better than the standard route, but I haven't done the standard route in a long time, so it may have been improved. Clohesy Lake requires 4WD, but the route provides the option of a nice loop over Iowa and Emerald.


Ah, I forgot Missouri from Clohesy - good call (I even enjoyed the road walk from the creek crossing near 390). Hiking out of that valley, you get stunning views of the lake before entering the gorgeous basin west of Missouri). That part's a calf burner.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby highpilgrim » Thu Sep 05, 2013 11:59 am

The Crestones from the west side via Cottonwood Lake.
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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby tlongpine » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:18 pm

highpilgrim wrote:The Crestones from the west side via Cottonwood Lake.


Sure, but you're giving away sunrise on the Needle and the South Colony Lakes.
I am unable to walk away from the mountain without climbing it. An unclimbed mountain tugs at my consciousness with the eternal weight of time itself. Until I've pressed my face into it's alpine winds, hugged it's ancient granite walls, and put it's weathered summit beneath my heal I'm unable to resist it's attraction.Knowing nature gives the mountain more time than she gives us adds urgency to the obsession. As has been said before; the mountain doesn't care.

It can wait forever. I cannot.

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby rlrjamy » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:20 pm

smoove wrote: Try the Grouse Canyon route. Far more scenic, some route-finding challenges below treeline, a ton of challenging elevation gain over a short distance, a long, exposed ridge, and a couple class 3 spots.

+1 really enjoyed that route

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Re: Best Non-Standard Routes?

Postby geojed » Thu Sep 05, 2013 12:26 pm

Crestone Peak NW Couloir, formerly the "Standard" route on the Peak but not anymore and then traverse to Crestone Needle. It saves you 1000' too because you don't have to drop down to Cottonwood Lake. I saw no one the whole day until I got back to SCL on a busy summer weekend!

http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=12836
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