suggestions for 5-day loop w 14ers backpacking trip

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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suggestions for 5-day loop w 14ers backpacking trip

Postby ilanes » Sun May 20, 2007 12:25 pm

Hi 14er forum:

Looking to come to Colorado in july or august to do a good ~5 day backpacking trip (preferably loop trip) that hits a few (2-3?) 14ers....any advice?

Much obliged,

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Postby USAKeller » Sun May 20, 2007 1:08 pm

You should look into the Colorado Trail. A large portion of it goes through the Sawatch Range. Some of the 14ers you can hit from there are Mt. Elbert, Mt. Massive, Mt. Yale, Mt. Princeton, Mt. Shavano (and Tabeguache Peak if done from Shavano). The trail crosses many of the peaks' main trails at their bases. You can hike along it for any number of days you'd like to.
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Postby cara » Sun May 20, 2007 4:07 pm

A more specific idea in that area (the Collegiates) is hitting Harvard, Oxford, Belford, and Missouri from either the Frenchman Creek or Pine Creek Trailheads (depending on which way you choose to hike). It's a really great loop, and if you're loooking to be out for a few days--it fits your criteria. All peaks are Class Two.

Have fun!

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Postby blue5oone » Sun May 20, 2007 4:45 pm

A great loop with some of the best scenery in the state is the 4 pass loop around the Maroon Bells. 4 passes, great scenery, and you can get several 14ers from camp. The Bells, Snowmass, and Pyramid are all within reach depending on the route you take.

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Postby Van McDaniel » Sun May 20, 2007 5:38 pm

How about the Maroon Bells Four Pass Loop? Park at the Maroon Lake parking lot and start walking up the Maroon Creek Trail. You will cross West Maroon Pass at the head of the valley and this will give you access to Fridgid Air Pass down into Fravert Basin. From the Fravert Basin side you will see the Bells from the seldom seen "back side" of things. Hike down Fravert Basin towards the vicinity of Geneva Lake and get on the Trail Rider Pass trail over to Snowmass Lake. From the vicinity of Snowmass Lake get on the trail that goes over Buckskin Pass that crosses just north(?)of Sleeping Sexton and down to Crater Lake and back to the trailhead and car. I estimate all of this to be about 8000' gain in altitude with less than 30 miles total distance. I just wrote all of that from memory but I'll bet you a buffalo burger that I am not far off in elev/distance.

Now that was just the backpack so how about this thrown in? You can camp up Maroon Creek and from that camp you have access to The Bells, Pyramid, all 14ers and Thunder, almost a 14er. You will be so close to the peaks that you can't see them except maybe Thunder. I am assuming that you are used to a real climbing challenge on some steep rotton rock, otherwise just do the backpack. From Snowmass lake you are RIGHT THERE at the 14er Snowmass.

If I were to do just only the backpack I would be kind of leisurely about it and take three/four days. Not all of that time would be spent hiking. Half of it would be spent lying around talking to Marmots and an occasional Mountain Goat and taking in the view of the lovely Elk range with little to no other people to distract me.
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Postby mtnhappy9756 » Sun May 20, 2007 5:42 pm

We've heard the Four-Pass Loop is awesome. Supposedly, the wild flowers are the greatest in mid July.

We are thinking of doing the Four-Pass Loop at the beg of July. How do you think the snowpack will be then? Will there be many (if any) snowfields?

How are the stream crossings? We've heard there are a lot of them. Are there logs to cross, or do you have to wade in the water? I'm sure it depends upon the snowpack for the season, but in general, we're curious what the crossings are like.

Thanks so much for any info!

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Postby Van McDaniel » Sun May 20, 2007 6:22 pm

To mtnhappy...It is my guess that you may encounter some snow in early July along this route. You will have to deal with high altitude northerly parts of these four passes that may contain some snow or possible snowfields so plan accordingly. Ice axe? Perhaps. Crampons? Possible. Early July can still be "early" and present some snow problems....If I were going to do this trip in early July I would probably err to side of caution and take ice axe and crampons. I have had many people tell me over the years that I am too cautious. BUT!!!! "It is better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it." As far as streams go there will still be some runoff but stream crossings should not be an issue, I hope. The trails in this area are in pretty good shape but I have never been over Buckskin Pass. You are probably correct about the wild flowers in mid-July. One lovely place is below West Maroon Pass between there and Schofield Park. The trail that goes over Frigid Air Pass down into Fravert Basin branches off of the West Maroon Pass trail on the south side of the pass. This trip should be well worth the effort. It is an incredible area.
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Postby MtHurd » Sun May 20, 2007 6:22 pm

Needleton to Elk Park near Durango and Silverton, CO. 3 14ers, dozens of 13ers and scenery unmatched in all of Colorado. You will have to buy a train ticket for $65 but the train ride itself is worth it.

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thanks and keep it going...

Postby ilanes » Mon May 21, 2007 6:50 am

hey all -
i really appreciate the time you took to write down those really great sounding ideas.... reason not to keep listing your favorites for people who search for this thread (ie loop, backpacking, 14ers) in the future...

thanks again!

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Maroon Bells Loop

Postby chuckspooner » Mon May 21, 2007 8:43 am

We did the Maroon Bells Loop last year August and climbed Snowmass from the West side. Just a big pile of rocks. No well marked trail or anything that we found. Coming down was tougher since there was a lot of loose rock.
Four passes make it a challenging trip.


Postby CG_old » Mon May 21, 2007 10:46 am

Another vote for the Four Pass Loop.... it's stellar.

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difficulty of 14ers on maroon bells loop?

Postby ilanes » Mon May 21, 2007 11:11 am

chuckspooner (or others),

the backpacking part sounds perfect for me, but can you tell me a little more abotu getting up snowmass (or other 14ers, pyramid, bells etc...)?

i've got lots of backpacking experience and have done some technical climbing. but never done anything in colorado...

would you advise starting with some of the "easier" 14ers?



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