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Best transition peaks

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

Postby Ben D » Fri May 24, 2013 12:04 pm

Hi I've climbed a few of the easier 14ers and am looking for a bit more of a challenge (class 3, 2+). Any suggestions on which routes would be best to help me transition from simple hiking to more challenging (and fun) rock scrambling? These also don't necessarily need to be 14ers. I was looking at Longs, Lindsey, and Kit Carson.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Aug_Dog » Fri May 24, 2013 12:12 pm

Lindsey and Wetterhorn ... take the gulley on Lindsey, but stay right on the more solid, class III rock. If you feel uncomfortable, you can easily bail into the standard route. If you want to test your will against exposure, do the Sawtooth. It's not technically all that demanding at all (some would say it's barely even class III), but the exposure is VERY real.
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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Jim Davies » Fri May 24, 2013 1:05 pm

Kelso Ridge.
East ridge of Father Dyer.
I personally don't recommend the Sawtooth for a step-up because it's too committing, and there's the willow mud problem.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Mtnman200 » Fri May 24, 2013 1:13 pm

Sneffels might be a good one as well. I climbed it in my 3rd year of going after the 14ers and enjoyed it enough to climb it again 7 years later. It seemed a lot easier the 2nd time around...

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby ameristrat » Fri May 24, 2013 1:40 pm

Longs is a good first class 3. I honestly found that I was much more nervous about it than I should have been. It's a fun climb and the bullseyes make it very tough to get off-route.

I'd save Lindsery until you get a few class 3s under your belt, and then try the NW ridge. It's a class 4 (for a few moves) but I found it to be a blast and WAY more comfortable than the descent we took down the std route in the gully which is loose and steep.

I also really enjoyed Castle Peak's NE Ridge as a introduction to harder stuff. It's class 2+ and you get the added bonus (in early to mid summer of an avg snow year) of a fairly simple glissade towards the bottom. Great to work on ice axe skills (to be clear I mean the bottom few hundred feet into Montezuma Basin, not up higher).

Edit: I'd add that on solid rock, class 3 is nothing to fret about. It gets build up as a big step, but I found my concern had more to do with exposure (how far will I fall) not class (how hard it it to ascend / descend). Class 3 moves are usually very intuitive, just avoid the ones with massive exposure to start. This site does a fair job of expressing that.
You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know. - Rene Daumal

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Aug_Dog » Fri May 24, 2013 3:55 pm

Jim -

I haven't done Kelso so I can't say much, but isn't it quite committing as well?

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby SkaredShtles » Fri May 24, 2013 4:18 pm

Aug_Dog wrote:Jim -

I haven't done Kelso so I can't say much, but isn't it quite committing as well?

There is definitely some commitment on Kelso - at least in winter conditions.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Jim Davies » Fri May 24, 2013 6:36 pm

Aug_Dog wrote:Jim -

I haven't done Kelso so I can't say much, but isn't it quite committing as well?

The difference is how you escape if things go wrong in the middle. On Kelso, you can descend the ridge, or in some places drop down to Grizzly Gulch on the north side on talus (although this isn't the best option, down does lead you back to the Stevens Gulch road). On the Sawtooth, people who bail in the middle have no easy way to return to Guanella Pass without climbing back up a thousand feet or so; instead going down the Abyss Lake drainage leads to deep wilderness, and people have gotten lost in there. Even when you complete the ridge, you're a long and potentially soggy distance from your car, and people have gotten lost there also.

Father Dyer is a better choice than either of these (or any class-3 14er, IMO). The ridge itself is solid and not technically difficult, and escape is possible to the left in many places if it gets too hard. Once at the summit, you can either proceed up and over Crystal, or descend directly to upper Crystal Lake with a straightforward descent route.

Of course, snow makes everything harder. Ever crossed the Guanella Pass willows on a sunny spring afternoon? I have. ](*,)
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby jaymz » Fri May 24, 2013 7:27 pm

+1 on Jim's suggestions. I'd say that a good progression would be Father Dyer, Kelso, and then the Sawtooth (via the Tour d'Abyss route).
The fun you have on the Sawtooth is a bit mitigated by the slogs before and after if you come from Guanella Pass. But if you do the Tour, it's probably better to have Father Dyer and Kelso under your belt first.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby edhaman » Fri May 24, 2013 7:55 pm

First, I agree with Jim Davies.

Depending upon your endurance and speed, the Tour d'Abyss can be a long and exhausting day. If you have a partner and two vehicles, an alternative might be to take the Tour d'Abyss route as far as Bierstadt's summit, then descend to Guanella Pass. For the Sawtooth, a two-vehicle alternative would be to start at Guanella Pass and end at the Evans summit parking lot (this avoids the route-finding/willows problem).

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby powhound » Fri May 24, 2013 8:09 pm

Pettingell EAST ridge. (Not to be confused with the south ridge that connects to the Citadel, which is way more difficult.) Then descend the "ramp" back to Herman Lake.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Stephen Butler » Fri May 24, 2013 8:37 pm

I was also wondering about this topic. I have climbed a few of the easier ones and am planning to go for Wetterhorn this summer. Glad to hear it is a good step-up to a bit more difficult route.

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