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Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

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Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby raayna » Wed Nov 10, 2010 2:40 pm

Just wanted to share some experiences from my two summit trips: Quandary & Elbert.

For anybody that thinks climbing "easy" 14ers is easy and free of risk, listen up. From my first experience of climbing, Quandary peak's east ridge, on the way down I hit some loose scree and nearly met my maker. If it hadn't been for my walking stick, there is no doubt I would have been fatally injured. I was already extremely fatigued from the climb, my feet and legs hurt, and I was having to come down side stepping. Still on the steep, first part of the trail going down, probably a couple hundred yards from where the summit is out of site, I placed my right foot down and the next thing I know, my life quickly flashes before me. I don't know how I did it, but I shoved my stick out in front of me just in time to stop my forward motion. My friends behind me thought I was a goner. Now let's talk about the cardio aspect. I was 51 at the time of this climb, I've smoked forever. My heart was pounding, working like it hadn't in years. There was a point on the way up that I thought I was having a heart attack. Two of my finger on my right hand went numb and that was radiating down from my neck. I discovered, I wasn't used to wearing the hydropak and after repositioning it, the numbness when away. But, never the less, I can honestly say, I had no business on that mountain and it is a miraculous feat of God's grace that I survived. I'm glad I went, but now can see looking back how incredibility dangerous it was. I took what I learned, sat on it for a year and headed back to Co.

This year, a group of us headed for Elbert. I took what I learned from last year and with much research learned, as much as one can in a year. We summit-ted after a long grueling climb, most of us were out of water by the time we summit ted. We even took extra. This time, on the way down one of the members got AMS, he was having vertigo, was nearly passing out, disoriented, and sick to his stomach. One guy stood in front of him, one behind, with another man there also. Using two trekking poles he managed to steady himself, with the others assistance. Three of us were already quite a ways ahead, when we heard them blowing a whistle, then the cell rang. In a panick they were to say the least. I knew the best and only thing to do for the man, was get him down to a lower elevation, so we talked them down. When he reached the treeline, he magically transformed, after a liter of water, and was feeling the best he'd felt all day. Moral of the stories, mountain hiking is dangerous, there's just to many things that can go wrong, way to fast. It is a shear miracle that we've had two trip without tragedy and we were on the "easy" mountain. I have no thought of every attempting most of the others 14ers. Yet, I have caught the bug, and am planning a couple more. Maybe massive w/an overnight at the treeline, and La Plata. This time I will cast vision for the dangers involved.

Richard.

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby Iguru » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:21 pm

Where are you from?
I am a flatlander, and did lots (many years) of mountain hiking before attempting a 14er.
So it wasn't so shocking to actually be on a 14er trail when I did my first (Elbert).
But it was still one of the hardest if not the hardest, most strenuous hikes I had ever done.
Now, after slowly working up in terms of difficulty, I know generally what to expect on selected mountain climbs, thanks in large part to this very website.
IMO, on a scale of 1-10, no 14er is less than 5.
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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby J-RockandRockpile » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:36 pm

While I m not taking anything away from you, plenty of people come from out of state each year and climb with ease (the word ease should be used subjectively). It is no doubt a tough undertaking and some overzealous newbies need be aware of what can go wrong.

I am to the point where I m a little tired of hearing about or crossing trails with those who have done little in preparation. Take the time to read and gather beta on trails, conditions, what to expect, how to train, what to bring with, weather and how to survive without having to rely on SAR. Because of this amazing forum it is easy to ask questions of those who have more experience and may have knowledge to pass along but it is also your job evaluate and accure information that best fits you and your abilities.
I have been to the top of the mountain, and it is good

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby sundevilmarsh » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:38 pm

First timers or those who have summited all the 14ers should always be aware that we are in territory which is potentially dangerous. Often a hiking trail is a false sense of security. Often hubris is a false sense of security. Every time we head out to engage in the challenging adventures which provide us enjoyment in our lives we need to remember that each is just one unexpected moment from disaster. This summer's tragedies should be enough of a reminder that all of us are subject to the always moving natural world. Keeping our focus eliminates one of the controllable contributors to a horrible problem. This mindset is essential to take with me on every adventure I take. Far greater adventurers than most all of us have been claimed by the wild earth and our desire to explore it.

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby peter303 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:11 pm

"Easy" is just relative among other 13K-14K hikes.
Summiting any of the 14ers by foot is a significant accomplishment for most anyone.

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby hatidua » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:47 pm

raayna wrote: I've smoked forever....I had no business on that mountain ...after a long grueling climb, most of us were out of water by the time we summit ted.... It is a shear miracle that we've had two trip without tragedy...

:shock:

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby speth » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:09 pm

sundevilmarsh wrote:This summer's tragedies should be enough of a reminder that all of us are subject to the always moving natural world.


peter303 wrote:"Easy" is just relative among other 13K-14K hikes.


+1
I'll be damned if I feel like I will ever know anything, but if we don't keep moving on that last hill, we'll never know what's on the other side.
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Sarcasm or not, it's not even funny to post something like this. Not at this time. Reported.
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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby altitude kamikazee » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:16 pm

ya im a flatlander but i do alot of hiking. im climbing elbert and massive with my dad this summer how was elbert.
Summiting is optional, getting down is mandatory.

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby raayna » Wed Nov 10, 2010 8:17 pm

Iguru wrote:Where are you from?
KC

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby FCSquid » Wed Nov 10, 2010 9:57 pm

It's not just the newbies who can get in trouble. I've climbed my share of 14ers, including some of the scary ones, and that can lull you into a false sense of empowerment. I made the mistake of trying to climb Shav / Tab on too little sleep with too few calories in me and had a miserable time on both summits. I consider myself to be in pretty decent shape and thought I could just 'power through' my discomfort and weakness.

Lesson learned: When the gas tank is on 'E', it's on 'E', and no amount of experience or will power is gonna change that fact. Give the machine adequate rest and fuel before tackling any of these peaks, even 'easy' ones like Shavano and Tabeguache. Nobody is immune to getting into trouble up there.
"Beer is living proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy."
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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby JB99 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:05 pm

raayna wrote:For anybody that thinks climbing "easy" 14ers is easy and free of risk, listen up. From my first experience of climbing, Quandary peak's east ridge, on the way down I hit some loose scree and nearly met my maker. If it hadn't been for my walking stick, there is no doubt I would have been fatally injured. Still on the steep, first part of the trail going down, probably a couple hundred yards from where the summit is out of site, I placed my right foot down and the next thing I know, my life quickly flashes before me. I don't know how I did it, but I shoved my stick out in front of me just in time to stop my forward motion.


I hope this is meant to be an exaggeration, I know the part of the route you mention is kind of steep but I don't think there's anywhere you would be fatally injured from taking a spill.
"You may say I'm a dreamer, but I'm not."

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Re: Warnings for newbies, from a newbie's eye

Postby astrobassman » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:44 pm

JB99 wrote:
raayna wrote:For anybody that thinks climbing "easy" 14ers is easy and free of risk, listen up. From my first experience of climbing, Quandary peak's east ridge, on the way down I hit some loose scree and nearly met my maker. If it hadn't been for my walking stick, there is no doubt I would have been fatally injured. Still on the steep, first part of the trail going down, probably a couple hundred yards from where the summit is out of site, I placed my right foot down and the next thing I know, my life quickly flashes before me. I don't know how I did it, but I shoved my stick out in front of me just in time to stop my forward motion.


I hope this is meant to be an exaggeration, I know the part of the route you mention is kind of steep but I don't think there's anywhere you would be fatally injured from taking a spill.


Agreed. This post seems a bit melodramatic.

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