Another Newbie . . . Hoping to Get Started

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Postby Sonia » Tue May 15, 2007 4:01 pm

Barr Trail is doable in a day especially with the ride down. I am an incredibly slow hiker and was not in good shape really at all when I did Pikes Peak both times. We started at 5 a.m. and arrived at the top about 1 to 1:30 p.m. on both climbs. Starting early is always a good idea because of the storms, but also because, IMHO, the lower part of Barr can get really warm with "dutch oven" effect of the quartz. But I am not a fan of heat either. :) Main advice is to keep an eye on the sky.

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Postby guitmo223 » Tue May 15, 2007 4:05 pm

If you want to do Pikes as a first 14er, I'd suggest hiking the Crags route instead of Barr trail. It is a bit steeper, but it's only a little over 11 miles RT, and starts at over 10,000 feet (vs. 6500 +/- at Barr).

Good luck, have fun and be safe!
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Postby Spam » Tue May 15, 2007 5:46 pm

I would have to agree with others that it could be a bit much for a first. You never know how your body will react and with a long hike it could make for a much more miserable day than to try Bierstadt or Sherman or Quandry where the hike is not as long and you would be able to retreat quicker if you feel bad! Pikes isn't going anywhere. Being in shape helps, however, if you have no clue how you will feel at altitude, you could be in for a disspointing day that will make you not want to do another. If you are with a group of experienced hikers who can gauge you great do it. But if it is a newbie gorup, make sure you know what your body will do on something a little less long. My 2 cents!
"Getting to the top is optional, getting down is mandatory." -- Ed Viesturs

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Postby RockFarmer » Tue May 15, 2007 6:40 pm

Pike's was my first 14er. I don't consider myself fit, but I ended up taking the Barr trail both ways in one day.

I started out at 3am, and it took me 7 hours to get to the summit. I asked the train conductors(?) if they had any open seats and they did not. In fact, a couple of climbers that passed me on the trail took the last two empty seats. If they had seats they would have taken payement up there, no problem.

So I decided to just take the Barr trail back down. I think it took me almost 5 hours to get back to the trail head. Not surprising after 26 miles and 7000 feet up and 7000 feet down, my feet were hurting a little bit.
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A better option than the Barr Trail

Postby Nutrition_Guy » Tue May 15, 2007 8:19 pm

I live in Colorado Springs and train on pikes often. My suggestion is to hike Pikes Peak from the Crags trailhead. Not only is the hike more scenic, there are a fraction of the number of people on the crags trail. It does parralell the road for a bit once you get to Devils Playground, but it's doable, at a moderate pace, in under 4 hours (up and down!)

I will mention that the road to the trailhead isn't usually clear until the weather gets better. I'm headed out that way this weekend and can post some beta on the road conditions to the trailhead. My guess is you still can't get much past the Amish camp.
When your only tool is a hammer, everybody starts lookin' like a nail.

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Postby Aubrey » Tue May 15, 2007 9:49 pm

Why not do the Crags Trail? It's not as long but it's still pretty healthy. No sense in blowing yourself out on your first 14er. Quandary, Sherman, Bierstadt, Grays or Torreys are all great first-14er-peak options.

As for training, I'd suggest hiking in the Lost Creek Wilderness. Gerry Roach has an excellent book on the area. Not really far from Denver, yet it feels super remote, and it's not very crowded. You can also brush up on your bushwhacking/routefinding skills, as there aren't many trails to summits.

Or you could hike like a mad dog in parks like Roxborough or Castlewood Canyon. Or drive up to Boulder and do some lesser, but not-to-be-taken-lightly peaks, like the 8,500-foot Bear Peak.

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Postby ramsker » Wed May 16, 2007 8:56 am

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions everyone! I have a few months before the supposed Pikes Peak trip would happen, so it sounds like I should . . .

1. Work on my conditioning - I tried the Gauntlet at the gym last night (man, is that apparatus from hell or what?? They should install those at Gitmo)

2. See if I can get out for some trial hikes to gauge my conditioning - I'll check out the suggestions for first-time 14ers that people have suggested.

3. Evaluate 1 & 2 carefully before jumping into anything bigger

I'll let everyone know when I am going to take the first step toward potential addiction . . . maybe someone will want to tag along with a rookie on Bierstadt/Grays/Torreys. If nothing else, the comic relief should be worth it.


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Postby RockFarmer » Wed May 16, 2007 8:43 pm


Let me know when take that step towards addiction. Pike's Peak was my gateway 14er. I would prefer to hike some of the other newbie 14ers like you mentioned, rather than do Pike's again. Nothing wrong with Pike's, but if I'm going to hike one, it might as well be a different one. Grays or Torreys would be near the top of my list.
"Gentleman! You can't fight in here. This is the War Room."
"Buy more. Buy more now. Buy more and be happy."
"The mountains are calling and I must go."


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