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Another Newbie . . . Hoping to Get Started

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Another Newbie . . . Hoping to Get Started

Postby ramsker » Tue May 15, 2007 12:20 pm

Brand new here . . . lived in Denver for 30 years and I am ashamed to say that I have not really done much "high level" hiking and have definitely never attempted a 14er. Hoping to change that, as I love the mountains and would like to gain some skill to someday pass along to my kids (5 and 6 years old).

I am pushing 40, but in decent shape. Pretty avid weight lifter and have a 2nd degree black belt in ju-jitsu . . . so I'm not a complete disaster from a conditioning point of view (but I am sure that I'll find out just how out of shape I am when I start hiking). Anyway, I am sure I'll be here asking some really stupid questions, but this seems like a great place to start learning!

So . . . here comes my first newbie questions:

A friend of mine wants to take me on the Pikes Peak hike in August--so I have some time to try and get in better shape. But my questions are

1. Assuming we do the "Barr Trail", is that a doable one day hike for a beginner (assuming that we are getting picked up at the peak and driven down)? He says it's not a big deal, but I don't want to get in over my head. Others have told me that this is better done as a 2 day hike.

2. What are some good "practice hikes" near Denver to start getting conditioned for a hike like this?

CG_old

Postby CG_old » Tue May 15, 2007 12:28 pm

I wouldn't call it no big deal... it's got a ton of elevation gain (the most of any 14er)... but it's definitely doable in a day, especially with a ride off the summit.

If you do the Barr Trail in August, avoid August 18-19 which is the Pikes Peak Ascent (18th) and Marathon (19th). There will be around 2000 runners in the Ascent and 800 in the Marathon, so the trail will be packed and not much fun.

- Chris

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Postby sonburnt^ » Tue May 15, 2007 12:30 pm

as far as places around denver..green mtn, mt falcon, and red rocks area are fun to mess around in. nothing too intense but will get the blood flowing and its something fun to do when you don't have much time.
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Postby Hunter » Tue May 15, 2007 12:42 pm

Pikes isn't necessarily difficult- just longer at 11 some odd miles round trip. Sherman, Greys & Torreys, Quandary, and Bierstadt are all great hikes to start with.
Your conditioning for martial arts will have helped. You mentioned you train with weights- I would place more focus on stamina rather than brute strength. Look at all the famous climbers around the world and they look nothing like Stalone in Cliffhanger.
As far as exercise training here in town, I've found it easy to go to the gym and do 1 1/2 hours at 3:30 every morning on the Gauntlet. Bottom line: Find a routine you can stick with, but get your heart exercised first and then work on your strenth.
"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

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Postby Piker » Tue May 15, 2007 1:00 pm

I hike Pikes Peak yearly via Barr Trail and it is fairly easy in my opinion but I always like to spend a night or two on the mountain so my trip is broken up. Just remember that it is just just over 13 miles up, so if you are burnt by the time you get to the top, you are only half way done unless you have someone pick you up at the summit or take the cog rail back down. (You must purchase ticket before heading up.) Another option that you have is to book a night or two at Barr Camp. I usually set up camp about 1/4 mile past Barr Camp.
Have you ever stopped to think....then forget to start again?

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Postby ramsker » Tue May 15, 2007 1:05 pm

Hunter wrote:As far as exercise training here in town, I've found it easy to go to the gym and do 1 1/2 hours at 3:30 every morning on the Gauntlet.


Wow . . . I have been trying to get to the gym faithfully at 5 am to get some training in. I always wonder who the guys are who are already leaving when I get there--you must be one of them! Now that's dedication!

Thanks for everyone's feedback so far. I definitely know that my cardio is my weak point right now, so I'll try to focus as much as I can on that in the next couple months for sure. I'll also check out the info on the hikes that have been mentioned and see if I can start working my way up (literally). Appreciate the advice!!!!

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Postby Hunter » Tue May 15, 2007 1:24 pm

ramsker- It really is a result from last year's embarrassment. I have a hiking bud who is 9 years my junior and he kicked my a$$. Refusing to let this happin again is my driving force. -Thanks
"I firmly believe that any man's finest hour, the greatest fulfillment of all that he holds dear, is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle - victorious."

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Postby gdthomas » Tue May 15, 2007 1:29 pm

Ramsker

Just to avoid any confusion, Hunter says the Barr Trail is 11 miles RT and Piker says 26 miles. And the winner is ...Piker!

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Postby Hunter » Tue May 15, 2007 1:35 pm

Smokes- sorry about that.
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Postby cftbq » Tue May 15, 2007 1:47 pm

1. Pikes via the Barr Trail in one gulp is definitely "pushing it" for a real beginner. It's 12+ miles and 7,400 ft. vertical--and that's assuming that you do have someone waiting at the top to drive you down. Unless you're a fast hiker, you can reasonably expect the one-way trip to take you basically all day--a long day. That doesn't mean you can't or shouldn't do it, but your buddy is quite wrong to dismiss it as no big deal.

2. Any course that involves elevation gain will help get you ready. How do you feel after gaining 2,000 ft.? 3,000 ft.? 4,000 ft? How long is it taking you. How do you feel after 6 miles? 8 miles? 10 miles? Your answers to questions like these, as the planned hike date approaches, will tell you whether or not you're really ready.

Hunter is definitely right: stamina (endurance) is definitely more important than strength. The people who hit the summit feeling refreshed, instead of feeling like they need to sleep for 3 days, do not usually have bulging biceps. They have muscles made out of lightweight steel, and huge aerobic capacity (which you can't see).
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Postby Cornfed97 » Tue May 15, 2007 2:43 pm

Pikes was my first 14er also. We started at about 3 am and finished by 6 pm, with about 30 minutes at the store on top, RT. It is not easy, and is a test of endurance. If you just walk up and catch a ride down, it shouldn't be too bad. Just remember, IMO it doesn't count if you catch a ride down. Have fun.

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Postby Corndiggs » Tue May 15, 2007 4:21 pm

Pikes was my first 2 14er hikes. I also drove down once, and took the train down the other. It is a very long hike, I think it took me about 6 to 7 hours to reach the summit. I think that your current conditioning and maybe just a little more cardio before then will be sufficient, it's more about being mentally strong IMO. I smoke close to a pack a day and still have made it up 23 14ers so far. It's just a matter of not letting yourself quit (unless the weather takes a dump on you).

With that said, I still consider Pikes to be one of the hardest 14ers I have done, simply because of the distance. I suspect, like myself, that you'll be hooked for life after you do it. Enjoy

ALSO, Piker mentioned if you take the train that you would have to buy a ticket for the train at the bottom. That wasn't the case when I did it in 2001, you just had to wait as the train arrived and hope they had an open spot. Pretty pricey though, I remember the one-way trip down costing me about $25. Maybe that has changed in the past few years???

ENJOY
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