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Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

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

Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby gonzalj » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:57 am

Barry Raven wrote:Yale would be a great first 14er. A little bit of scrambling near the summit and spectacular views. I don't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to do this mountain.

And a note. Mid-August is still monsoon season. That means there is a very high likelyhood of afternoon thunderstorms. Buy a headlamp and get a pre-dawn start. This will get you up and off the summit before noon. There are no guarantees that the storms won't start earlier, but getting a pre-dawn start improves your odds for success. Bring at least 3 liters of water and drink it regularly along the way and any altitude effects will be lesser than they would otherwise be.


Definitely agree. If you started hiking around 4 am, you would give yourself a good chance to summit.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby Levellander » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:14 pm

Thanks for all the responses. Jim Davies...good question..."Why Yale?" The smart aleck in me would say "because it's there". :D Truthfully though, we cancelled a planned Colorado trip a few years ago due to family situation. This year I decided to put Colorado back on. I chose a state park near Divide and started looking at my Rand McNally atlas. I saw the triangles and thought "I've never been on top of a mountain...which one is closest to our campground and is close to a main road? Mt. Yale!" It's as simple as that. I chose Mt. Yale over other peaks because of Rand McNally. But I've never hiked up a mountain before so I began to research, which led to questions. I figured "who is better to answer those questions than people who have been up there"? So I signed up with 14ers dot com.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby Jim Davies » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:35 pm

OK, fair enough. Sherman is closer (and has a shorter and simpler route), although Yale has better views. I'm sure you'll have a good day either way.

Driving up Pikes Peak the day before should help your altitude adaptation some. If you don't want to hike the last few miles from Devil's Playground (as somebody suggested), you could instead hike just the last 700 feet or so from the highway - just get out at the pullout where the highway wraps around the final rocky part of the peak to the right and follow the trail up from there. It's at the point where the road separates from the route in picture #15 in Bill's description of the Northwest Slopes route: http://www.14ers.com/routemain.php?route=pike1&peak=Pikes+Peak
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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby mtnview » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:25 pm

I would say a couple of things. Stay in the Buena Vista area as the elevation is around 8,000 feet. See if you can get a good sleep at that height.
Buena Vista is close to everything in the Sawatch. My recommendation for a peak would be Mt Huron. Check that one out here at 14ers.com

Chalk Creek Campground just outside of BV near Nathrop is worth checking out.

http://www.chalkcreek-campground.com/

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby jet » Wed Mar 28, 2012 4:59 am

The first part of the trail gains elevation quickly. Even if you have acclimated that first part can be hard. I took a group of young people ( from Minnesota) for a hike up the trail and most of them didn't make it past the first stream crossing. I usually have to force myself to walk at a much slower pace at the start of a hike and then gradually pick up the pace. My rough planning for a hike like Yale would be to allow 1 hour per mile per 1000 ft of elevation gain. A 5 am start would be about the lastest I would start ,4 am is even better. . I may be taking a few friends up there for their first 14er this summer sometime around mid August (13-15?). Trying to decide which peak for sure. The trailhead access is a plus to allow for staying in BV and driving to the trailhead for a day hike. There is a NF campground just a short ways from the trailhead also.
Another thing I usually do for acclimation is to drive up to Cottonwood pass and hike there. There is a good trail that gives some elevation gain. I never get tired of the views from there. The hike high sleep low routine seems to work for my wife and I quite well. The Pikes suggestions are also very good to see how your body responds to the altitude. Drink plenty of water. Get a good drink at the trailhead before you start even if you don't feel like you need any. We usually add Tang or something similiar to our water for the descent. It seems to give a little extra energy.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby MtHurd » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:27 am

Levellander wrote:Thanks for all the responses. Jim Davies...good question..."Why Yale?" The smart aleck in me would say "because it's there". :D Truthfully though, we cancelled a planned Colorado trip a few years ago due to family situation. This year I decided to put Colorado back on. I chose a state park near Divide and started looking at my Rand McNally atlas. I saw the triangles and thought "I've never been on top of a mountain...which one is closest to our campground and is close to a main road? Mt. Yale!" It's as simple as that. I chose Mt. Yale over other peaks because of Rand McNally. But I've never hiked up a mountain before so I began to research, which led to questions. I figured "who is better to answer those questions than people who have been up there"? So I signed up with 14ers dot com.


For acclimitization and fun, you can rent 4-wheelers at St. Elmo and ride them up to the Continental Divide. St. Elmo is an old ghost town that is now a small community located at 10,000 ft. between two 14ers. You can also hike the Alpine Tunnel trail near St. Elmo.

Alpine Tunnel Trail.

St. Elmo General Store and ATV Rentals

Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby gonzalj » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:36 am

jet wrote:The first part of the trail gains elevation quickly. Even if you have acclimated that first part can be hard. I took a group of young people ( from Minnesota) for a hike up the trail and most of them didn't make it past the first stream crossing. I usually have to force myself to walk at a much slower pace at the start of a hike and then gradually pick up the pace. My rough planning for a hike like Yale would be to allow 1 hour per mile per 1000 ft of elevation gain. A 5 am start would be about the lastest I would start ,4 am is even better. . I may be taking a few friends up there for their first 14er this summer sometime around mid August (13-15?). Trying to decide which peak for sure. The trailhead access is a plus to allow for staying in BV and driving to the trailhead for a day hike. There is a NF campground just a short ways from the trailhead also.
Another thing I usually do for acclimation is to drive up to Cottonwood pass and hike there. There is a good trail that gives some elevation gain. I never get tired of the views from there. The hike high sleep low routine seems to work for my wife and I quite well. The Pikes suggestions are also very good to see how your body responds to the altitude. Drink plenty of water. Get a good drink at the trailhead before you start even if you don't feel like you need any. We usually add Tang or something similiar to our water for the descent. It seems to give a little extra energy.


+1 on both going up to cottonwood pass and doing a little hiking up there (and you won't be sad when you see the views from up there either - gorgeous drive). Cottonwood is over 12,000 feet, so it'll definitely give you a good feel for how things are (in addition to getting off at the devil's playground & hiking pikes peak) at elevation and also I can't underemphasize the importance of drinking water the entire time (whether you're hiking or not). When I did Yale I went through 3 liters of water and half a liter of gatorade, so I would recommend an absolute minimum of 3 liters of water. I also like the change of taste sometime of gatorade and think that the electrolytes in it are helpful in giving you a little boost sometimes if you feel yourself getting tired at elevation.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby Levellander » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:40 pm

Again, thanks for all the replies. Nobody has said "you're nuts". That's encouraging. Actually, pretty much all of the responses have been encouraging. "3 liters of water" has been a very consistent response. Push the water. Other points I've added to my planning/shopping list: buy a headlamp, set out early to be back down early and avoid potential afternoon storms, don't be afraid to turn back if we don't feel well or if the weather turns bad, turn the steering wheel over to the wife on Pike's Peak so I (and my son) can hike up the last bit to guage how we feel, try some smaller peaks first (actually, Saddle Mountain Natural Area is just around Florissant from where we'll be and has a 10700+ foot peak that looks family friendly), drink LOTS of water (maybe some gatorade for flavor and extra energy later in the hike). Great, great stuff. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, folks. My initial "am I in over my head" is answered...."nope". But "be careful", "be prepared" and "be smart" have been duly noted. I'll keep checking back here and when we get back from our trip I'll post and say how it went.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby Shawnee Bob » Wed Mar 28, 2012 8:30 pm

I'll throw in for Huron as well. Shorter hike, Class 2, good trail, and among the Sawatch peaks I've hiked, the best views. Hard to top the 3 Apostles from Huron's summit. But Yale is pretty great too. Lots of elevation gain, particularly above treeline. Not technical, but physical. Excellent views.
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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby MtHurd » Thu Mar 29, 2012 12:54 pm

And something the whole family can enjoy, Greenhorn Mountain.

"The short but rewarding hike entails 5 to 6 miles round trip and 1,800 feet elevation gain."

Greenhorn Mountain

And I know there is always a battle about which view of the Apostles is better, Yale or Huron. In my opinion, the view from Yale is better.

And if you decide to climb Pikes Peak from Devils Playground, the trail starts right by the road (left) and the trail is easy to follow. It leaves the road then meets the road at a turnout but does not cross it. From there, the major uphill begins as it leaves the road again and meets it again at the summit. That means you can shorten this hike by getting dropped off at the turnout, but it will still leave you with most of the elevation gain.

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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby gdthomas » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:10 pm

Levellander wrote:Again, thanks for all the replies. Nobody has said "you're nuts". That's encouraging. Actually, pretty much all of the responses have been encouraging. "3 liters of water" has been a very consistent response. Push the water. Other points I've added to my planning/shopping list: buy a headlamp, set out early to be back down early and avoid potential afternoon storms, don't be afraid to turn back if we don't feel well or if the weather turns bad, turn the steering wheel over to the wife on Pike's Peak so I (and my son) can hike up the last bit to guage how we feel, try some smaller peaks first (actually, Saddle Mountain Natural Area is just around Florissant from where we'll be and has a 10700+ foot peak that looks family friendly), drink LOTS of water (maybe some gatorade for flavor and extra energy later in the hike). Great, great stuff. Thanks for all the advice and encouragement, folks. My initial "am I in over my head" is answered...."nope". But "be careful", "be prepared" and "be smart" have been duly noted. I'll keep checking back here and when we get back from our trip I'll post and say how it went.


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Re: Mt. Yale for a beginner - Am I getting in over my head?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Mar 29, 2012 1:44 pm

A couple other good hikes near Mueller State Park:
Crags Overlook, from the Crags CG trailhead (same TH as the Pikes Peak route). Shortish (2 miles), good rocks, scrambling potential.
Pancake Rocks via Horsethief Park. It's just a few miles up the highway from the Mueller entrance. Views, rocks to scramble on, sometimes Bighorn Sheep.
A lot of Springs-area hikes have descriptions here: http://www.gazette.com/sections/infocenter/happytrails/ Select "Near Divide" to get a list of several that will be near your campground.
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