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June 6 Trip

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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June 6 Trip

Postby dcduck » Wed May 22, 2013 2:15 pm

I'm planning on driving from the East Coast, and arriving in the Guenella Pass area on June 6 to climb as many 14ers as I can get in during approximately 12 days. My only 14er experience is Grays and Torreys in one day last July. Had a great time with those, and found them to be nothing more than a long day of hiking. I understand that early June on some of these climbs is much different than late July on Grays and Torreys, but want to get a full understanding.

I am planning on beginning on June 6 or 7 with Evans, Sawtooth, Bierstadt combo after a day of acclimatization and day hiking in Guenella Pass, then either going to Crested Butte, or to some of the peaks below. I have a few questions about this time in the season, what to expect, and would also appreciate any recommendations and/or advice on other peaks I should be going for below.

1. Will I need snow shoes, microspikes and/or crampons? Most of my research has shown that crampons would be a little overkill, so I'm planning on microspikes or hiking crampons (suggestions on either?). I was thinking about renting some snowshoes from REI if necessary, but would prefer not to if I'm not going to need them.

2. I'm in a 2WD Honda Accord the entire trip. I've consulted the road quality guide and picked only paved or 2WD easy peaks to focus on. Will I be encountering a lot of poor road conditions anywhere that I should stay away from?

Sample Itinerary (pending some choices):

- Starting with Mt. Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Mt. Evans
- If I head to Crested Butte, is there a way to access the Maroon Bells trail head from there, or do I have to go to Aspen to access it? Are there other suggested peaks from Crested Butte? Any camping suggestions for Northern Crested Butte near trailheads?
- Next move would be to the Buena Vista Area to hit Yale, Princeton, and Elbert. Any camping suggestions or tips for 2WD access on these? Should I possibly try Belford and Missouri while I'm there?
- I have to go through Breckenridge after that, and will hit Quandary, and possibly Sherman and Democrat, although those are listed as 2WD Rough road. Will I have trouble in the Honda with those trailheads?
- I'm going to end in the Sangres, where I have a cabin in Wet Mountain Valley to stay at. It doesn't seem like there are any good options for 14ers there that I can access with a 2WD. Any other suggestions for hikes/climbs there?
- Ending with Pike's Peak, then back to Denver to stop for the night before driving back East.

Any overall gear advice? I've got a helmet, an ice axe, but am unsure about extra traction (hiking crampons/microspikes and/or snow shoes). I'm outfitted with everything else I should need.

I want to car camp the entire time, unless a good opportunity presents itself for an overnight in the back country to get a peak I otherwise wouldn't be able to do. I have limited time, so would prefer to be able to get going when I can. Very excited about the possibilities of this trip.

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby huffy13 » Wed May 22, 2013 2:29 pm

A 2WD Honda will make it to Winfield, you can car camp there without a problem and from there you can bag Huron, LaPlata, Belford, Oxford and Missouri. Within an hour drive from there you can get Sherman from the west side (Iowa Gulch), Elbert and Massive are both within an hour drive or so and there are a few of the other Sawatch 14ers within an hour south. The only thing is that you will want to catch a ride to Huron's TH from Winfield or just hike the 2 mile road up the TH (it's easy) as the road is rutted an pretty rough, good clearance is necessary. Camped there a few times with my kids and it is a great, quiet place to relax...very spread out, good water supply from Clear Creek, cool wildlife always shows up and it does have toilet facilities, which is really convenient when you are planning on spending several days. Another plus is with Leadville being less than an hour away, you can go there to get a shower...I believe you can get a hot shower at the Leadville Hostel for a nominal fee.
Seems like the times that I need a mountain the most are the times that I can not get to them.

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby dcduck » Wed May 22, 2013 8:23 pm

That's really helpful on the planning side. Anyone have gear tips on the the need for snowshoes and hiking crampons vs micro spikes? Also, any info on conditions I should be aware if this early in the season would be great.

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby Jim Davies » Wed May 22, 2013 8:26 pm

Check this, especially after this weekend (when the road is supposed to be open to the pass). Many of us have recurrent nightmares about those willows, especially in the spring when the snow is melting.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby dcduck » Wed May 22, 2013 8:31 pm

Thanks, I will definitely be keeping an eye on these for anything I may go after. From what I'm reading about the willows, it almost makes me want to double back on the sawtooth to descend...almost.

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby Jim Davies » Wed May 22, 2013 8:35 pm

Frankly, returning through the willows from Evans in the first week of June probably qualifies as insanity. You may want to reconsider this, or at least take boots and socks that you don't mind throwing away afterwards (since you'll probably be sinking into mud up to mid-calf, unless it's all covered by waist-deep snow softened by the mid-day sun).
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby pw » Thu May 23, 2013 10:23 am

dcduck wrote:
2. I'm in a 2WD Honda Accord the entire trip. I've consulted the road quality guide and picked only paved or 2WD easy peaks to focus on. Will I be encountering a lot of poor road conditions anywhere that I should stay away from?

Sample Itinerary (pending some choices):

- Starting with Mt. Bierstadt, Sawtooth, Mt. Evans
- If I head to Crested Butte, is there a way to access the Maroon Bells trail head from there, or do I have to go to Aspen to access it? Are there other suggested peaks from Crested Butte? Any camping suggestions for Northern Crested Butte near trailheads?
- Next move would be to the Buena Vista Area to hit Yale, Princeton, and Elbert. Any camping suggestions or tips for 2WD access on these? Should I possibly try Belford and Missouri while I'm there?
- I have to go through Breckenridge after that, and will hit Quandary, and possibly Sherman and Democrat, although those are listed as 2WD Rough road. Will I have trouble in the Honda with those trailheads?
- I'm going to end in the Sangres, where I have a cabin in Wet Mountain Valley to stay at. It doesn't seem like there are any good options for 14ers there that I can access with a 2WD. Any other suggestions for hikes/climbs there?
- Ending with Pike's Peak, then back to Denver to stop for the night before driving back East.

Any overall gear advice? I've got a helmet, an ice axe, but am unsure about extra traction (hiking crampons/microspikes and/or snow shoes). I'm outfitted with everything else I should need.

I want to car camp the entire time, unless a good opportunity presents itself for an overnight in the back country to get a peak I otherwise wouldn't be able to do. I have limited time, so would prefer to be able to get going when I can. Very excited about the possibilities of this trip.


No trailhead troubles with Yale or Elbert, Belford Missouri Quandary, Sherman, Democrat, Bierstadt. Princeton you will probably have a bit of a hike up a jeep road before branching off to the trail. You will find some good car camping sites on the road to Yale from Buena Vista.

I don't know of any access to the Maroon Bells from Crested Butte. There are a few thirteeners near Crested Butte, can't give you any info on them, check out trip reports for Teocali if you want to try that one.

Seems like all peaks in the Sangre de Cristo range involve a lot of vertical, I think they closed the road in to S. Colony Lakes, so everyone is in the same boat for the Crestones and Humboldt, regardless of having a 4 WD or 2 WD.

I think Jim Davies is correct on coming back from Evans. Big snow month in April for the Front Range, still a lot of it up there. There is a faint trail through there, but difficult to find and it does thread its way through a boggy area, that's going to be a mess in June.

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby TravelingMatt » Thu May 23, 2013 10:50 am

Jim Davies wrote:Frankly, returning through the willows from Evans in the first week of June probably qualifies as insanity. You may want to reconsider this, or at least take boots and socks that you don't mind throwing away afterwards (since you'll probably be sinking into mud up to mid-calf, unless it's all covered by waist-deep snow softened by the mid-day sun).


You know, I wonder whether the best way down from Evans isn't just to go back over the Sawtooth.
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: June 6 Trip

Postby dcduck » Thu May 23, 2013 10:57 am

What are your thoughts on this bypass route? http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5136

I'm considering going back across the sawtooth to get down.

Also- any idea on the need for snowshoes or microspikes at this time of year?

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby SurfNTurf » Thu May 23, 2013 11:01 am

dcduck wrote:What are your thoughts on this bypass route? http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=5136

I'm considering going back across the sawtooth to get down.

Also- any idea on the need for snowshoes or microspikes at this time of year?


That TR is one of a few on a well-documented route -- with a trail and everything -- that avoids the willows completely.

http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=13151&parmuser=SurfNTurf&cpgm=tripuser

http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=11173&parmuser=nkan02&start=15&cpgm=tripmain&ski=Include

Once the road opens (typically Memorial Day), the Tour d'Abyss route is one of the most fun in the Front Range. It includes the Sawtooth and doesn't require beginning or ending at Guanella Pass.
Many Miles to Go (Blog)

“There are two kinds of climbers: those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” - Alex Lowe

"There have been joys too great to describe in words, and there have been griefs upon which I cannot dare to dwell; and with those in mind I say, 'Climb if you will, but remember that courage and strength are nought without prudence, and that a momentary negligence may destroy the happiness of a lifetime. Do nothing in haste, look well to each step, and from the beginning think what may be the end.'" - Edward Whymper

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby Jim Davies » Thu May 23, 2013 12:35 pm

That route is good after things dry out (or especially in the fall, when those TRs were done). First week of June, not so much. I'll stand by the "insanity" assessment. Of course, the OP is a duck. ;)
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: June 6 Trip

Postby BKS » Thu May 23, 2013 1:05 pm

dcduck wrote:. Anyone have gear tips on the the need for snowshoes and hiking crampons vs micro spikes? Also, any info on conditions I should be aware if this early in the season would be great.


General rule of thumb: microspikes under 30 degree slope, crampons over 30. For the most part, the class 1 and 2 standard routes on the easier peaks do not exceed 30 degrees. This year by June 6 there will be a fair bit of snow on trails, but probably will be fairly firm corn to cross - making snowshoes not essential. Some easier routes do traverse slopes where a slip could be harder to arrest without an axe. So I'd probably take microspikes and axe and stick to easier routes. While there will be some potholing in afternnon, snowshoes would probably be more effort than they are worth.

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