Planning early for 1st 14er in April

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby cutigers11 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:04 am

My wife and I are planning on coming to Denver the 1st week in April of 2014. We would love to try a 14er, but didn't know if there were any 14ers that would be safe enough that time of year for us considering we have no experience with snow. I have decent hiking experience but most of it is in the mountains of NC and TN. If it is not wise to attemp any of them without experience, then any guide recommendations would be appreciated.

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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby kushrocks » Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:13 am

It will all depend on the weather and snow conditions at that time which you will have to pay attention to but Quandary would be a good one to do as a first 14er in the snow that time of year. You will almost certainly need snow shoes still and be properly dressed for cold weather but it is still one of the few trailheads that time of year where you should be able to drive all the way to it. You don't need a guide but a GPS would be helpful. Quandary is popular enough that there will probably be some kind of trail to the top.
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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby EZSide » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:36 am

Today after reading the intro. to Dawson's guide with the admonishment that all outings are serious endeavors - (as well as spending an evening in the Climber's Memorial sub) I was reflecting on how we were probably a little lucky on Quandry in April 2010. We tried to stay summer standard at treeline - someone else wisely dropped down to the left to catch the ridge early. Nothing happened, but we definitely took a risk we were totally unaware of at the time. The snow was deep, steep and I think we even heard some settling. Thought it was cool because we don't often hear that in WI. :-k
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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby peter303 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:48 am

I recommend Mt Sniktau off Loveland Pass instead for a first winter above treeline climb in Colorado.
Its is only a 13er, but has an winter-accessible trailhead and possibly lesser, low-avalanche snow.
It has the same amazing summit views you'll see from 14ers in the area.

It can be quite windy up there as well on any other above treeline hike. So prepare for -20F windchill with face covering and thick wind gloves, wind pants and insulated boots.
The first part of the trail is usually too windswept for deep enough snow to need snowshoes. But that same wind packing can make that part icy. But once you get to the ridge part of the trail there can be deeper snow.

If the Sniktau hike feels easy after you've done it, then consider the 14er Quandry about 15 miles to the south.

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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby flynnba » Sat Mar 01, 2014 7:52 am

I agree with Peter. Sniktau is a good winter 13'er with beautiful views from the summit. It is exposed the entire trip but the wind keeps the snow pretty clear or at least compacted. I did it 3-4 times last winter/early spring to get ready for summer and didn't have spikes/crampons/snowshoes. Just some good boots and warm clothes. Shouldnt have to be said but; be carefull to stay off the cornices once you start on the ridge line to the summit.

Like said previously.. While it may only be a 13'er...its a quick hike and has some wonderful views..better then some 14'ers!

Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby forbins_mtn » Sat Mar 01, 2014 9:32 am

I've been up Sniktau a few times and it's never been enjoyable. It's incredibly easy, in a technical sense, but the wind is ridiculous. Conditions change weekly, so keep your options open and always have 2-3 different choices. You'll have better luck if you research those hikes now, and you might have better luck if you choose peaks in different areas. 30 miles in any direction gets different weather out here. Maybe choose Quandary and Elbert and make the call when you get here. Both of those peaks have a good chance of having an established trench. I did Quandary last May and it did have a trail, but we still needed snowshoes(especially on the way down because we got a late start and things got really soft by our descent)

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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby Tortoise1 » Sat Mar 01, 2014 10:53 am

peter303 wrote:...then consider the 14er Quandry about 15 miles to the south.

If you're a crow.

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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby onepeakatatime » Sat Mar 01, 2014 8:09 pm

Another vote for Mt. Sniktau (or Cupid point). I have hike there more than a dozen times from April to December. I always have snowshoes in the car, just in case, but have never used them. I always carry microspikes in my pocket and put them on when needed. Conditions change day to day, just be prepared. My car is packed for every possibility, and never make my final decision on clothing and gear till I am at the top of Loveland Pass. I am always ready to switch to Hoosier Pass and do Hoosier Ridge, North Star East, or Quandry. All of these are great hikes and easy to get to. The wind will always be there, eye and face protection a must. Depending on weather, there are plenty of great choices for 13ers and 14ers, just keep watching this site for conditions.

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Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby litote312 » Sun Mar 02, 2014 12:05 am

All this talk of Sniktau has me wanting to head out there... might be sooner than you guys are in town, but if anyone else is interested for March 15th or 16th I'd love a group. I was planning on Sherman but wouldn't complain over a shorter drive from Boulder, weather & conditions permitting of course.

Re: Planning early for 1st 14er in April

Postby ameristrat » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:56 pm

Tortoise1 wrote:
peter303 wrote:...then consider the 14er Quandry about 15 miles to the south.

If you're a crow.

I see what you did there...
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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