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Advice on first 14er

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

Postby Oman » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:51 am

Some weird responses here. If you can run a mile, you can get up (one of the easier) 14ers. If you can run a 10K, you can do a 14er without much suffering.

Do your sisters play soccer or basketball or any sport that requires running? If so, then they can probably get up Bierstadt, Evans, or Sherman. A little better shape and they can probably summit Quandary, Grays, Torreys, Huron, or (my favorite, but a long drive from Denver) Handies.

Though some board members here gripe about the weekend parade of people on several of the popular peaks listed above, I've found that having people on the trails helps when you're hiking with kids. They motivate each other, and provide a social diversion for tweens who may not be into wildflowers, geology, butterflies, etc. What seems crowded to Coloradans may not seem crowded to visiting Ohioans.

Also: Who says you have to summit? Our family has had great days on peaks that we never stood atop. Just ditch the Xboxes and texting and enjoy a great day unplugged, even if you just go half-way up a peak. Have fun, but remember that different people have different definitions of fun.
Last edited by Oman on Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby jdorje » Tue Apr 09, 2013 10:52 am

+1 on any peak starting with H or Q.

Oman wrote:If you can run a mile, you can get up (one of the easier) 14ers. If you can run a 10K, you can do a 14er without much suffering.


I don't think that's true at all. Running a mile on flat ground doesn't actually involve any work being done. Flatlanders generally fail with the elevation gain, which involves a lot of work and therefore taxes your muscles more than your heart and lungs. Flatlanders who are in too good cardiovascular shape need to be careful to pace themselves, lest their muscles and their lungs both give out at higher elevation.
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby Scott P » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:11 am

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.


Unless they are grossly out of shape, I would tend to agree.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby SurfNTurf » Tue Apr 09, 2013 11:38 am

pseudoghost wrote: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.


Yeah, this. I've seen 3-year-olds on summits, and I've seen 75-year olds on summits. People with disabilities. People a hundred pounds (or more) overweight. If your sisters and other family members are in moderate shape with no health issues, they should be fine. Go slow, take lots of breaks, watch for signs of AMS and keep an eye on the weather. The easier 14ers are very short and basic hikes.

Don't do Longs.

Bierstadt and Sherman (or Evans from Summit Lake if you really want to cheat) are the easiest near Denver, but in my opinion aren't as pretty as other options. I usually recommend Quandary to first-timers because it's a classic, aesthetic route with superb views that only requires 500ish more feet of elevation gain. Grays/Torreys is also more stimulating than Bierstadt, Sherman or Evans.

If you want to combine the ease of Bierstadt/Sherman/Evans with some of the best 14er views in the state, drive a little farther and go for Huron or Handies.
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby HULKHIKEGOOD » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:13 pm

pseudoghost wrote: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.


I agree, My first 14er I got an early start, went slow, took in the views and enjoyed the experience. 3 days later went up one with a way more experienced person and made the mistake of trying to keep up with them, needless to say it didn't end well. #Prepatellar bursitis
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby Billy the Kid » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:48 pm

I also am going to echo what a few others have already said on this tread…I would recommend Huron. It is only about an hour further from the others you initially mentioned. I always recommend Huron for people looking to hike their first 14er. If you consider the elevation gain, distance and difficulty, I really think you will find it to be as easy as any 14er can be (although, there really is no such thing as an “easy” 14er). The views you will have of Three Apostles during this hike are awesome…I really found Huron to be one of the most scenic 14ers in Colorado! Plus, it won’t be near as crowded as the 14ers closest to Denver…

Whatever you decide, you will have a blast!!
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby TallGrass » Tue Apr 09, 2013 12:58 pm

I'd read this thread: Longs Peak for First 14er? and the Mountaineering Safety page (as should any in your hiking group).
Then: 14ers Ranked by Difficulty, and: Easiest 14er Routes, BUT what is easy for one is hard for another, and what is hard for one is easy for yet another -- you'll have to personally discover where you fit.

The top three for "1st Colorado 14er Climbed" (just to show two of your peaks are common choices) are:
Grays Peak 1158 Users (13%)
Mt. Bierstadt 1005 Users (12%)
Longs Peak 955 Users (11%)

Getting a headache that won't go away at a slower pace or break? Simply descend the route you came.
Not sure if you packed enough water? Turn around when you've gone through half.
Worried about steepness tiring you out? Well if to tired to continue, U-turn and it's all downhill from there.
Not sure how others in your group are? Ask, talk with them.

Read up, gear up, head out, turn around if prudent, and if the "turn around" is at the summit marker, \:D/ \:D/ \:D/ !!! Hike alert, not in fear. Hike informed, not in ignorance. Population stats do not apply to individuals any more than "if 53% Americans are female, and you're an American, it's safe to assume you're female." One could take a poll as to the "best" 14er, but that will only tell you what the popularity distribution will be if a similar group of similar number was polled, NOT what you will think is best. Your personal experience(s) in the mountains and your personal results with a doctor, at the gym, and or on the trail are what counts. Enjoy the hike (summit or not) and have a great trip!!! If it's about family time in the mountains, then the peak is secondary, right? :wink:
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby 3rdGenNative » Tue Apr 09, 2013 2:55 pm

I'll throw in my $.02. Consider Mt. Democrat. I've taken several groups of middle schoolers and even a group of high school kids from IA up Democrat. With Denver area kids I'll bet we had a 95% summit rate.
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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby peter303 » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:01 pm

3rdGenNative wrote:I'll throw in my $.02. Consider Mt. Democrat. I've taken several groups of middle schoolers and even a group of high school kids from IA up Democrat. With Denver area kids I'll bet we had a 95% summit rate.

Democrat is one of the easier ones. The main issue is that it is ten mile gravel forest road where the quality varies from year to year. If you are coming an SUV or truck, then no problem. Otherwise the road depends how rough the winter runoff was and how recently the road was regraded. There are muffler-eating rocks and gullies then. Check the Trailhead report section here shortly before using it. Some of the other mentioned peaks have better road access.

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:29 pm

jdorje wrote:+1 on any peak starting with H or Q.


Unless it's Hwilson or Qapitol.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby jdorje » Wed Apr 10, 2013 1:52 pm

TravelingMatt wrote:
jdorje wrote:+1 on any peak starting with H or Q.


Unless it's Hwilson or Qapitol.


Hwat!?

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Re: Advice on first 14er

Postby MountainHiker » Wed Apr 10, 2013 2:34 pm

I’m always amazed at how many people do Longs for their first fourteener. But to put it in perspective, there is probably a higher failure rate on Longs than most fourteeners. A lot of people who shouldn’t be on the upper part of the mountain get weeded out during the long hike in. The scramble up to the Keyhole is a reality check that results in many turning back.

But many do continue on. When you look at fourteener fatalities, Longs has a high percentage on the standard route compared to most fourteeners. And this is a mountain with some really serious routes! Even with the harder fourteeners, fatalities are often either off route or on one of the harder routes.

I wouldn’t take someone up Longs without knowing they did okay on other fourteeners first. Your sisters might be okay, or they might not. I would find out on a less committing fourteener.
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