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Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby d_baker » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:35 pm

I think Vestal & Arrow are a bit out of your way, and would be far more difficult than the Chi-basin 14ers.

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:42 pm

Presto wrote:
by climbing_rob » Sat Mar 26, 2011 10:02 am
I have not been following the San Juan range snowpack this year, but in general in late June, expect large patches of snow hanging around. The real problem is the possibility of having to cross a moderately steep, hard snowfield or two. A slip w/o an axe and you could go for a ride. Trekking poles are certainly better than nothing.

I have been there numerous times, mostly August/September (lots of Juicy 13ers in the area!), and last year we did a 4-day July 4th weekend tour. We did not bring ice axes. One small place (north side of 2-thumbs pass, not even on your 14er route) we kinda wish we had them. So really, tough call in late June. Maybe you can get some beta on here for folks that head down there in early June. I guess that would be my advice, wait and see. I would also consider some sort of traction devices, like micro-spikes for any higher angle hard snow. We always carry a 15oz pair of aluminum crampons for June/early July 14ers, but I hear microspikes are nearly as good.


Sound advice ... personally, I always bring an ice axe that time of year. Trekking poles are no substitute when you lose footing. Areas of the trail/route that are not in the sun very much, or at all, will be bullet-proof and could provide you with a fast and unwanted descent. Scheduling later in June, as you did, will help with the snow conditions somewhat (my sister lives down there and it has been a low snow year). As with Rob, all of our climbing down there has been late July/August/September as our goal was to be successful on as many peaks as we could. I'll be curious to hear about your trip and see how the backpacking loop goes (done that before and it is a beauty). I do find it wise that you are willing to turn back on anything that might cause you to feel you are past your experience comfort level. As with gdthomas, I have not read all of this thread, but would advise (if someone hasn't already) that you have a good topo map in case you have to detour or re-route yourself due to conditions that exceed your abilities. Happy trails! :D


Presto,

I reckon two experienced climbers telling me to bring the axe is enough for me to do so. Taking an ill-timed, icy slide down a rocky mountain probably would best be avoided. I guess I now need to learn how to properly use one for self arrest.

Good to hear you've done the loop trail. If you have a trip report floating around out there I'd love to read it!

Topos and GPS will both be with me along with a SPOT for the just in case, case.

Thanks for the note Presto! Much obliged!

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:45 pm

d_baker wrote:I think Vestal & Arrow are a bit out of your way, and would be far more difficult than the Chi-basin 14ers.


To be honest, I hadn't really given them much serious thought. I just knew they were in the general area and could be accessed from the trail I'll be hiking.

If you say they're more difficult, then I'll admire them from a distance and move on. No sense in complicating things! :D

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:51 pm

KentonB wrote:
Jim Davies wrote:
kaiman wrote:The isolation of these mountains and the few visitors, while offering a unique "backcountry experience" impedes your chances of getting help or a quick rescue if something goes wrong.

Don't worry, nobody is ever truly "alone" in Chicago Basin in the summer. And except for the summit boulder on Sunlight, the difficulty of the climbing is lower than on the Crestones, IMO.

I was just about to post the same thing! I thought Chicago Basin would feel really remote... but it was packed when we went. Came across no less than 4 rangers, a whole crew of CFI volunteers (working on Sunlight's Trail), and pretty much every flat piece of ground had a campsite on it within a 3 mile radius.

For what it's worth, I thought Sunlight was MUCH easier than all the hype. Also, height has its advantages. I actually went up and tagged it twice when we got to the summit so we could video tape it and take pictures.

For instructional purposes only...


KentonB,

Thanks for posting the video. I've actually seen it already and you sure make it look easy! Climbing the summit block of Sunlight will be a game time decision for me. Just one of those things that I may or may not try. If I do though, I definitely prefer your method of getting down. :D

Thanks for the reply!

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby d_baker » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:53 pm

gregp wrote:
d_baker wrote:I think Vestal & Arrow are a bit out of your way, and would be far more difficult than the Chi-basin 14ers.


To be honest, I hadn't really given them much serious thought. I just knew they were in the general area and could be accessed from the trail I'll be hiking.

If you say they're more difficult, then I'll admire them from a distance and move on. No sense in complicating things! :D

You'll see them from the Elk Park trail. You'll see them from summits in Chicago Basin peaks too.
This is my report from last May.
This is a picture of Arrow & Vestal (l. to r.) from Eolus:
Image

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sat Mar 26, 2011 7:56 pm

d_baker wrote:
gregp wrote:
d_baker wrote:I think Vestal & Arrow are a bit out of your way, and would be far more difficult than the Chi-basin 14ers.


To be honest, I hadn't really given them much serious thought. I just knew they were in the general area and could be accessed from the trail I'll be hiking.

If you say they're more difficult, then I'll admire them from a distance and move on. No sense in complicating things! :D

You'll see them from the Elk Park trail. You'll see them from summits in Chicago Basin peaks too.
This is my report from last May.
This is a picture of Arrow & Vestal (l. to r.) from Eolus:
Image


Beautiful picture man! Thanks for linking your report. I'm off to read it now!

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sat Mar 26, 2011 8:16 pm

d_baker,

Fantastic trip report and stunning photography. I've tried to read as many trip reports here as I could but have somehow missed this one until now.

Thanks for the link man.

Now come on June, I'm ready to go now!

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby RockyRaccoon » Sun Mar 27, 2011 10:57 am

Sounds like a great trip. Just really focus on your training and spending long days in the mountains with a pack on your back. I grew up in Tennessee and have done many multi day trips in the Smokies and along the AT.

The hiking out here is much different and I could not do near the mileage I typically did back east. So plan accordingly. Even the easiest 14ers are a long 6-8+ hours in the mountains and by the end of the day the going down is just as difficult as going up.

I certainly think your plan is doable just be prepared by doing many long hard all day hikes in NC prior to coming to CO. Enjoy.

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby Jim Davies » Sun Mar 27, 2011 11:12 am

You might have an adventure crossing Johnson Creek in early June. See CONative's trip report from late June 2009:
http://www.hikingintherockies.com/fourteeners/mount_eolus/mount_eolus.htm
This crossing is part of the Elk Park loop, soon after you leave Vallecito Creek on the way up to Columbine Pass. It might be best to try to get there very early in the day, as afternoon snowmelt will increase the flow.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:05 pm

RockyRaccoon wrote:Sounds like a great trip. Just really focus on your training and spending long days in the mountains with a pack on your back. I grew up in Tennessee and have done many multi day trips in the Smokies and along the AT.

The hiking out here is much different and I could not do near the mileage I typically did back east. So plan accordingly. Even the easiest 14ers are a long 6-8+ hours in the mountains and by the end of the day the going down is just as difficult as going up.

I certainly think your plan is doable just be prepared by doing many long hard all day hikes in NC prior to coming to CO. Enjoy.


RockyRaccoon,

A fellow southerner! I too spend a lot of time on the AT. I've been out twice so far this year and have a trip planned in May to walk from Hot Springs to Erwin. I also plan to do several shorter trips over favored stomping grounds. That and the gym. Man do I hate the gym!

I know what you mean about the difficulties out west. I did the Four Pass Loop in Aspen back in September and let me tell you those were tough miles indeed. The scenery though pretty much makes up for the pain in my book. I've seen some beautiful country here in the East but nothing so far compares to what I've seen out there.

I'll take your advice and keep training hard for this trip.

Thanks for the tips and advice man.

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Re: Inexperienced climber vs. Chicago Basin 14ers

Postby gregp » Sun Mar 27, 2011 2:14 pm

Jim Davies wrote:You might have an adventure crossing Johnson Creek in early June. See CONative's trip report from late June 2009:
http://www.hikingintherockies.com/fourteeners/mount_eolus/mount_eolus.htm
This crossing is part of the Elk Park loop, soon after you leave Vallecito Creek on the way up to Columbine Pass. It might be best to try to get there very early in the day, as afternoon snowmelt will increase the flow.


Jim, great to hear from you!

Yeah, CONative posted that report for me a few months back and it has definitely been on my mind. To be honest, I was kinda hoping maybe those "issues" had been fixed by now, but if not, maybe his makeshift bridge will still be in operation. Plan B is a waterproof packliner and a cold swim. :-" This wouldn't be an adventure without a little adversity! :)

One thing I didn't think about was that the water levels might change throughout the day. I'll try to heed your advice here and get to the crossing as early as I can.

Also, not that it makes much difference, but I'll be there late june into the first week of July. Probably won't matter as there will be snow melting off at that time as well.

Jim, as always, thanks.

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