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Advice on first 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Advice on first 14er

Postby mckenzielz » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:05 am

Hello all -
I'm planning on taking a trip out to CO this summer with my family. I've been wanting to hike a 14er for a while now, but was curious as to which one would be best for my family to join me on. We're from Ohio, so they aren't used to the high altitude. I've taken a couple of trips out west and am pretty fit so I'm not too worried about myself. My sisters are only 12 and 14 and have done little to no hiking... I was thinking about Longs, Pikes, or Bierstadt (because of their closer proximity to cities). I've heard Longs isn't the best for beginners though. Any thoughts would be appreciated!

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby Jim Davies » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:12 am

Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby kansas » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:12 am

Longs is a big day. Even if you don't have any issues with it being class 3, the physical demands may be too much for new hikers.

Personally, I like Pikes, but with the train and store on top it may not be what you're looking for.

Bierstadt is a shitshow.

You're already coming from Ohio, drive a couple extra hours and hit Huron or Handies. Short, beautiful hikes.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby colokeith » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:17 am

Longs is really not a beginner peak. It is a very long hike, and includes a fair amount of class 3 scrambling

Pikes via bar trail is a really long day. It is fun in its own way, but I much prefer the peaks with out doughnuts and hoards of people who just drove up.

I would recommend looking at these
Great scenery not terribly far, relatively easy hikes
* La Plata
* Massive (southwest slopes)

Easy and close to Denver
* Bierstadt
* Grays / Torry's
* Sherman

Evans may be a really good choice given your family who haven't done much hiking. From summit lake it is a pretty easy hike, and the road gives you a bailout option.

just fair warning someone who has done little to no hiking may struggle on any 14er, you probably want to take them out on a shorter hike at altitude first to see how they do
To climb is to push yourself in a way you might not normally imagine is possible. If your stamina, skill, and luck are sound you will get to stand on top. ... I realized that with climbing, I'd found something that nourished my soul and could forge me into a better version myself - Jim Davidson

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby HULKHIKEGOOD » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:19 am

kansas wrote:
You're already coming from Ohio, drive a couple extra hours and hit Huron or Handies. Short, beautiful hikes.

I agree with Kansas, Handies was my first 14er and it was an AWESOME experience! Coming from Oklahoma, and basically NO acclimatization, I was able to get to the top with no issues. Hope you have a great trip!!!
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."- Philippians 4:13

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby peter303 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:35 am

Mt. Evans, Bierstadt, Quandry, and Elbert are easier climbs and have decent road access 30 minutes from I-70.
Though Coloradoans consider the Mt Evans road fairly easy, it does have steep dropoffs and hairpin turns.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby JTOlson26 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 7:54 am

Drive a bit further and hit Quandary. Very manageable hike for beginners and yet still a great 14er experience. If you are looking to camp there are some great places down the road past the TH for the standard route.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby Scott P » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:06 am

Grays/Torreys are also somewhat close to the city (if that's what you are looking for), though the road to the northern trailhead is a little rough.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby leggaj5 » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:08 am

Whatever you do, do NOT do Sherman from Iowa Gulch. I took my roommate on this route for her first 14er....and she moved to Wisconsin a few months later.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby Stephen Butler » Tue Apr 09, 2013 8:46 am

Out of the three you listed, Bierstadt seems the best candidtate due to the inexperience of your sisters. However, during the summer, especially on weekends, Bierstadt is a zoo.

A couple others mentioned Grays/Torreys and Quandary. Although a little further from the Denver area I enjoyed those far more than Bierstadt.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby GeezerClimber » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:39 am

Your sisters will be miserable and unlikely to succeed. Even the easiest 14ers require a decent level of fitness. 2000 feet or more of vertical at altitude will be extremely difficult for them. If they have no interest to begin with, you will be in for a whine fest of epic proportions.


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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby pseudoghost » Tue Apr 09, 2013 9:46 am

Quandary or Huron. Start early and take it slow. I think most people vastly overestimate the real difficulty of a 14er. Anyone can make it up if you start early enough, have good weather and take it slow.


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