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Which 14er do you fear the most?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Tornadoman » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:30 pm

Rcizzle wrote:I think you have to separate this into multiple categories. On first glance I would say Little Bear (hourglass) and El Diente primarily because of loose rock. However, I have had unpleasant experiences on Mt. Massive and Mt. Columbia with unforecasted inclement weather that I don't want to repeat. This also applies to snow climbs were I was quite bothered by avy danger. Then there is always the the long round trip mileage fear and the human factors such as broken ankles such that go along with that.


Did you climb El Diente from the Kilpacker/South Slopes route? I didn't think it was too bad, but that north side looks sketchy.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby I Man » Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:36 pm

South Maroon in winter, hands down. :shock:

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby KentonB » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:14 pm

I'm glad I did Little Bear long before reading this thread! :-D LOL

But yeah, Little Bear hands down. There's something about downclimbing the hourglass on foot holds you can't see... that are sloped... with little round pebbles on them... and a 100' fall to certain death... that leaves me skittish about ever returning.

Some other thoughts:

Most Overrated in terms of scariness: Pyramid, Sunlight, & Crestone Needle

What I fear most that I haven't done: N. Maroon, Capitol, & Snowmass

Most unexpectedly scary peak: Columbia! After the Harvard-Columbia traverse took longer than expected due to snow conditions on the ridge, we got to witness a beautiful sunset from the summit of Columbia... only to have to downclimb 2000' of scree in the dark. I thought sure I was going to die a few times! LOL
Last edited by KentonB on Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby DeTour » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:25 pm

Fascinating read for someone trying to make sober choices about what I should and should not take on in the mountains. Even though fear isn't always rational, I read in this a lot of detail about which mountains/situations made you feel most at risk of something really bad happening.

For those who listed the Bells, I would be curious to know how many were referring to standard routes vs. the traverse.

I haven't been on Little Bear or any of the Elks yet so my experience doesn't count for much. But I can say El Diente was scariest for me by far, due to straying off route after abandoning the Mt. Wilson traverse, cliffing out on repeated ill-advised attempts to bail down dead-end gullies, and not being able to find the way back to the standard route.

Other supposedly "harder" 14ers like Crestone Needle and Sunlight were nothing but fun. Thinking Pyramid for this summer, glad to see it's only mentioned in this thread as being easier than expected!
when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby schrund » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:30 pm

geojed wrote:I don't feel "fear" for any of them. Just respect them for each of their unique challenges.

+1
We did not think of the great open plains, the beautiful rolling hills, and winding streams... as "wild". Only to the white man was nature a "wilderness".
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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby zdero1 » Wed Mar 27, 2013 7:57 pm

Scott P wrote:Culebra. That $200-$400 is going to hurt.


Please don't tell me they jacked up the price. :evil:

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Bullwinkle » Wed Mar 27, 2013 8:29 pm

For the most part, fear can be supplanted by respect for the mountain, by intuitive insight, by wisdom (the anticipation of consequences), by careful preparation, and by discipline. Risk will never be zero, but it can be reduced to an entirely tolerable level by the aforementioned attributes.

I have done forty-seven 14er ascents in Colorado without a turn-back, so far, but I am always willing to let the next one be the first. I could travel lighter, but I always plan for contingencies. I could climb at a higher skill level, but I generally choose not to when climbing alone. I could prepare less diligently--even as a flatlander coming from out-of-state/out-of-country, but it is always a "pay me now or pay me later" proposition. I could be more laissez-faire about route finding, but the penalty for being wrong can be severe.

So what I fear most is not a mountain, but myself, in how I prepare for each ascent. And because I never let that background fear be totally subordinated the exhilaration of climbing, the risks I take are quite reasonable--even when I have to remind myself in key moments, "This is a no screw around move here." Good technique, and you go home with host of fond memories. Bad technique and/or bad judgment, and you may go home in a bag.

Finally, I set reasonable, intermediate goals--rather than setting goals that put me on the edge of do-able or done. Ambition can take us to some fine achievements. But if not carefully managed, it can also take us down some dangerous paths.
As a mountain more fully reveals itself to a man, so the true nature of the man will be more fully revealed

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby GeezerClimber » Wed Mar 27, 2013 11:03 pm

I have 44 different under my belt, about 70 with repeats. My attitude is that any montain can arbitrarily take my life though odds are very low.

The most frightened I've been was on Yale's east ridge when a big boomer came up. We ditched down steep loose rock and scree into the upper Silver Creek drainage to escape. From about 13K, I turned around to watch as lightning pounded the ridge we just abandoned. We then had a long bushwack in steady rain to get out. Be sensitive to a mountain's moods!

Capitol was the most intimidating I've done but I would describe the climb as more thrilling than scary. I'd like to do it again.

I have not done Little Bear and it looms in my mind. The hourglass does not look that frightening to me but pics of all the poised rocks above it give me the creeps.

N Maroon would be the other. Seems like there are a lot of fatalities on it.

Dave

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby NickJ » Thu Mar 28, 2013 7:49 am

Concerning Little Bear. Roach says the hourglass is the most dangerous place on any standard route on any 14er. But it's because of rock fall hazard, not because of danger of falling. The key is to mitigate rock fall hazard. Don't climb on a summer weekend. Don't go with crowds. Wear a helmet. Climb on a Tuesday or Wednesday late in the summer. I've never done it as a snow climb but getting up and down, in dry conditions (I know water seeps through the rock in places) is not too difficult. I think looking down the thing, as you enter it on the descent, is probably the worst part. Also, I was actually surprised by the challenges above the hourglass. I thought when I got to the top of the hourglass I was going to be sort of done but you have to kind of make some decisions above the hourglass and 3rd class climbing is involved. So if you are reading this, and have never done LB, I don't think you have to necessarily be afraid. You just have to be smart about it and treat it with respect. Just be careful and make good decisions. And obviously start your climb EARLY.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Scott P » Thu Mar 28, 2013 8:03 am

..
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:12 am

For those who have not done Little Bear yet, and feel the risk of the Hourglass is unacceptably high, consider the SW ridge.

Advantages of the SW ridge:
-Avoids the avy danger en-route to the hourglass.
-Avoids the rockfall issues of the HG.
-Avoids the potential for slip and fall in the HG.

A few factors to keep in mind with the SW ridge:
-Route-finding on the return: The last 1/2 mile or so getting through the P-J to the car can be an orienteering challenge, especially in the dark.
-Winds: the SW ridge can subject one to incredibly high winds. Go when the wind forecast is low.
-Loose rock below the ridge: stay on the ridge proper, even if contouring around looks inviting. The ridge top all the way provides the most stable rock.
-Mama Bear Traverse: a little spicy, but even in winter, it's not bad. There's also some difficult third class on the last few hundred feet to S LB. Other than that, all class two.
-Be prepared for a long day.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby FCSquid » Thu Mar 28, 2013 10:26 am

Dancesatmoonrise wrote:For those who have not done Little Bear yet, and feel the risk of the Hourglass is unacceptably high, consider the SW ridge.

Advantages of the SW ridge:
-Avoids the avy danger en-route to the hourglass.
-Avoids the rockfall issues of the HG.
-Avoids the potential for slip and fall in the HG.

A few factors to keep in mind with the SW ridge:
-Route-finding on the return: The last 1/2 mile or so getting through the P-J to the car can be an orienteering challenge, especially in the dark.
-Winds: the SW ridge can subject one to incredibly high winds. Go when the wind forecast is low.
-Loose rock below the ridge: stay on the ridge proper, even if contouring around looks inviting. The ridge top all the way provides the most stable rock.
-Mama Bear Traverse: a little spicy, but even in winter, it's not bad. There's also some difficult third class on the last few hundred feet to S LB. Other than that, all class two.
-Be prepared for a long day.



Just to add a little more context to the Mama Bear Traverse: Be prepared for some big-time exposure. Just after South Little Bear, you have to deal with some big west face exposure. And then a little further on, you'll get a full dose of the sheer east face. Also, getting down the ridge takes just as long as it does to get up ... it's a long, long day.

There's no easy way up this mountain, but I'd agree that the SW ridge is much more palatable than having to negotiate the rockfall dangers in the hourglass.
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