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Best transition peaks

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

Postby Aug_Dog » Fri May 24, 2013 9:02 pm

Wetterhorn is great in my opinion, as long as you're ready for the exposure, because it is pretty airy. But, the class III is fairly short, straight-forward and on solid rock.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby DeTour » Fri May 24, 2013 10:08 pm

Kit Carson is the easiest route rated class 3 IMO. We didn't even take the supposed class 3 section (which some call 2+) after Kit Carson Avenue - we took a slightly steeper gully east of the standard route. That was still easy, solid, fun climbing. I would also agree Wetterhorn's class 3 section is easy and relatively short. There's a pretty dramatic runout to test your tolerance for exposure, but the climbing is solid, blocky stair-steps. Also, the southwest ridge of Sneffels, which I thought was comparable to Kelso Ridge.

The climbing on Longs is not technically difficult, but two factors may make it seem harder: [1] the rock on the home stretch is worn smooth by heavy traffic for many years. The rock has plenty of fractures for holds, but the footing is definitely slicker than most 14ers of similar incline. [2] the sheer length of the route can take a toll, depending on your physical condition and acclimation. The more exposed/difficult sections (narrows, homestretch) are near 14,000 feet and 7+ miles from the trailhead. I personally would rate Longs more difficult than the other aforementioned peaks for those reasons. (KC is similar length from the trailhead, but has nice camping at Willow Lake to keep the summit day shorter, whereas Longs Boulder Field camping is limited and at 12,000 feet, a whole different game than Willow Lake.)
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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Ben D » Fri May 24, 2013 10:41 pm

Jim Davies wrote: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.


I actually attempted Kelso once but backed out and figured I'd better try again when either I have more experience or am with someone with experience on that kind of route

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Grant » Fri May 24, 2013 10:59 pm

Can't go wrong with Wetterhorn. Great introductory peak in a beautiful area.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Kent McLemore » Sat May 25, 2013 5:33 am

+Father Dyer
You might consider Blanca. Its class 2+ with as much exposure as you want.
Fletcher also presents a range non-committing Class 2-3 options.
re: Kelso, its a great scramble, but the Knife Edge is near the top. I'd hate to get there and decide I didn't want the exposure. I'm sure people downclimb Kelso all the time, but for someone just testing the Class 3 waters it wouldn't be fun.
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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby kaiman » Sat May 25, 2013 10:32 am

Wetterhorn, Snowmass, Sneffels, and Crestone Peak all make good first 14er scrambles. Also the Sawtooth on Bierstadt/Evans. My first was Snowmass. I would save Kelso until you have a bit of experience. I used Kelso along with Quandary's south ridge as warm ups for Capitol and was glad I did.

kaiman

Edit: I would also agree with DeTour tha Kit Carson would make a good, easy, solid Class 2+/Class 3 first.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Aug_Dog » Sat May 25, 2013 6:23 pm

I'm actually quite surprised to hear Longs and Kelso as suggestions, particularly since "commitment" seems to be the general theme behind this discussion. My first class III was Lindsey (staying high climbers right) and I wouldn't have asked for it any other way, particularly since that gulley sucks so bad. I knew I could bail into the gulley at any point, which is key to this discussion. We're talking about a climber's first experience with third class moves, not whether they can tell if they are over committed. In my opinion, if you are ready to jump to C3, then you should be smart enough to know if you should enter The Sawtooth Ridge, the exposed traverse. Furthermore, by that point, you have already passed the C3 sections anyhow. The "rebar" move on Longs, in my opinion, should not be your first C3, exposed experience, especially not with the conga line behind you. My two cents. I would recommend The Sawtooth over Kelso or Longs, because I don't think the Sawtooth is C3, but that's me. It's just exposed, but, that is great experience.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Mtn Geek » Sat May 25, 2013 11:53 pm

Snowmass Mtn was my second 14er, and loved the scramble. It's worth it if you want to do a backpacking trip.

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Michael J » Tue May 28, 2013 1:29 am

Ben D wrote: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.


Sometimes we hear a question on here and we want to quickly give our own opinion. As I look at the peaks that you have chosen for your transition, it appears to me that you have done your homework. Your choices are fine: Go for it!!

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If you'd climb higher you'd find wondrous things to see..."

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby ed20320 » Thu May 30, 2013 6:39 am

my vote would be the Crestones. either peak would provide good scrambling with the comfort of very solid rock. plus you can't beat camping at South Colony Lake.

Good Luck.

Ed
In the immortal words of Socrates, “I drank WHAT?”

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Thu May 30, 2013 7:07 am

ed20320 wrote:my vote would be the Crestones. either peak would provide good scrambling with the comfort of very solid rock. plus you can't beat camping at South Colony Lake.

Good Luck.

Ed


As a progressing climber myself and having just done the Crestones last summer, Crestone peak was almost easy in my opinion, though the gulley is pretty long if your just getting used to scrambling. While I enjoyed the needle, it was technically more difficult. Thus depending upon your goals you could choose either as appropriate, or better yet climb the peak first to gauge your ability and then decide whether to attempt the needle.
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

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Re: Best transition peaks

Postby Wish I lived in CO » Thu May 30, 2013 7:18 am

Ben D wrote: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.


Though it has a lower rating, Challenger is actually harder than KC, simply because it is steeper and looser - down lower the grass can be treacherous if wet in the morning dew and then you have the steep scree above. KC above is an easy and solid class 3 and the avenue is absolutely nothing to worry about (provided no snow). Not to say to be intimidated in any way, but pointing out what may be helpful if you have a preference for more solid or more loose climbs. The Willow lake area is my favorite and absolutely stunning scenery.

Great comments by others on Whetterhorn and Longs.
I look up to the mountains - does my help come from there? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth! Psalm 121:1-2

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