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Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Sdavis15 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 8:57 pm

This being my first post on the forum, I feel as though I should provide a bit of background information so that these questions can be accurately answered.

I'm a college student from Oklahoma, and have little experience climbing 14ers. However, I have climbed two (San Luis and Handies) and I've spent a lot of time in Colorado. That being said, altitude has never really been a problem for me before in terms of side effects. Earlier this summer, I took a trip to Lake City with some friends from High school to climb Handies and I got hooked on climbing. I'm in need of a break from the flat lands and I'm way too impatient to wait until next July to climb another one. Which brings me to my questions.

A friend and I are currently slated to depart from Oklahoma at 3 PM on Friday, which would put us in Lake City about 4 AM on Saturday morning. We would then rest until about 9 AM and begin our accent up Sunshine Peak. We plan to head back to Oklahoma at about 6 PM on Saturday night.

Aside from being completely irresponsible with our time, is there any reason that we should not attempt this journey? Has anyone on the forum attempted a feat like this before?
I appreciate all responses.
Thanks-
Spenser

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Stevo » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:06 pm

Spenser,
The biggest problem you might face is weather. Plan for storms up high between 12 and 4 everyday and keep in mind that this is no a good time to be abov tree line. That window could expand or disappear so just keep an eye on local weather forecasts fore Sunshine. My suggestion would be to take turns driving and start hiking at 4:00 when you get to the trail head. Then do the resting before your leave on Saturday night.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby clemsonmtneer » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:11 pm

I think the weather will be your biggest issue. We're experiencing a very wet pattern this week... lots of rain... thunderstorms... and even some snow above 13k. So a 9 am start time is going to be too late given the lightning potential... in addition to the wet/cold conditions. If the monsoon were over and there was a clear weather forecast, I'd say go for it... but given the upcoming forecast, that's a long trip when the chances of getting weathered off the mountain are pretty high. Maybe try again in a couple of weeks, when hopefully we'll be in a drier weather pattern?

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Dakota » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:15 pm

No offense, but I think this is a little dumb for two reasons. One, if you are going to spend that much gas money as a college student, I would at least stay for a night and try and take in what Colorado has to offer as far as a good time after the hike. You know enjoy the fruits of your labor with some high altitude partying in a fun town.

Second, why not do a 14er that is not on the Western Slope and something closer to the Front range that would substantially cut the hours spent in a car?
If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
-Albert Einstein

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Sdavis15 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:17 pm

Thanks for the heads up about the weather. Unfortunately, this would be the last weekend that I would be able to attempt the hike until mid October, which I'm sure is much too late. I guess we will just have to watch the weather closely and make a call on it later in the week.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Sdavis15 » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:19 pm

Dakota007 wrote:No offense, but I think this is a little dumb for two reasons. One, if you are going to spend that much gas money as a college student, I would at least stay for a night and try and take in what Colorado has to offer as far as a good time after the hike. You know enjoy the fruits of your labor with some high altitude partying in a fun town.

Second, why not do a 14er that is not on the Western Slope and something closer to the Front range that would substantially cut the hours spent in a car?


Both are good points. I'll look into the Front range, we had just chosen Lake City because we were here earlier in the year and wanted to go back. Thanks.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Dakota » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:29 pm

Sdavis15 wrote:
Dakota007 wrote:No offense, but I think this is a little dumb for two reasons. One, if you are going to spend that much gas money as a college student, I would at least stay for a night and try and take in what Colorado has to offer as far as a good time after the hike. You know enjoy the fruits of your labor with some high altitude partying in a fun town.

Second, why not do a 14er that is not on the Western Slope and something closer to the Front range that would substantially cut the hours spent in a car?


Both are good points. I'll look into the Front range, we had just chosen Lake City because we were here earlier in the year and wanted to go back. Thanks.




Yeah, and dumb probably wasn't the best word. I use it to describe the plenty of "dumb" trips I made in college. I do admire your ambition to get out and make the mundane grind of college a lot more enjoyable though! =D>
If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.
-Albert Einstein

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby clemsonmtneer » Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:48 pm

Sdavis15 wrote:Thanks for the heads up about the weather. Unfortunately, this would be the last weekend that I would be able to attempt the hike until mid October, which I'm sure is much too late. I guess we will just have to watch the weather closely and make a call on it later in the week.



Wouldn't entirely discount October if you have proper winter clothing and good, waterproof boots. October can be a great time to get out on the peaks... even with a little early season snow accumulation. Hell, I like it better than the summer... better chance of clear/bluebird weather... minimal thunderstorm threat... fewer crowds... and early season snow dustings make for better scenery. You could do Grays and Torreys, Bierstadt, or Quandary, which see enough traffic that they would be easy to follow with a little snow on the ground. Perhaps consider microspikes if you're not used to hiking in the snow.

That being said... you would need to keep a tab on conditions (use this site, check the peak conditions section) as October varies from year to year as far as snow conditions... usually it's manageable in mid Oct, but occasionally we get early season dumps. Additionally, you do have to be prepared for cold temperatures (and wind), and also keep in mind that the days are much shorter that late in the season.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby bigredmachine » Mon Sep 09, 2013 10:04 pm

Sdavis15 wrote:Thanks for the heads up about the weather. Unfortunately, this would be the last weekend that I would be able to attempt the hike until mid October, which I'm sure is much too late. I guess we will just have to watch the weather closely and make a call on it later in the week.


I did La Plata's SW ridge last November in near summer conditions...so if you choose the right route and pay attention to the weather mid October would probably be fine.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Theodore » Tue Sep 10, 2013 11:59 am

I made a few of those trips in college... I'm actually planning on doing the same thing this weekend, but leaving on Thursday. Make sure you hydrate and it isn't a bad idea to pop an aspirin as well as you get to the Denver/CO Springs areas. I was planning on Huron with my wife and her friend, but they don't have the gear or experience, so now I'm toying with either a solo trip or a scratch and just drinking in Vail.

Besides Huron, I'm also looking at Princeton. My goals are minimal snow, favorable forecast for a bit of a weather window and a short, established route that I won't be on for hours. With the risk of tstorms jumping up, I really just want to get some altitude and get down. I have no issues with rain and a bit of snow, but I don't want any part of lightning and would like to avoid a nice sub freezing wind.

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Sdavis15 » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:27 pm

At this point, we're reconsidering the mountain that we have chosen. Another challenge that I didn't mention earlier is that we don't have access to a high-clearance vehicle. So if anyone knows of a good road to the trailhead of a Class 1 or 2 mountain, that would be appreciated. I'm looking as well but haven't found anything concrete. If we take the time to drive up there, we need to be certain that we'll be able to summit haha.
Thanks again

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Re: Questions about a day trip to Sunshine Peak

Postby Theodore » Tue Sep 10, 2013 12:47 pm

There is no guarantee, ever. If you want to be certain, this isn't the weekend for you. I've had pretty craptastic luck with regards to summits over the last couple years on my trips, but still good memories of being in the mountains with good friends.

Yale, every mosquito range 14er, pikes, longs, etc... are all fine is a basic car. There's a trailheads tab up top that will list out exactly what you are looking for. I suggest you look at that and cross reference mountains with forecasts to see what might be do-able.

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