Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby RenoBob » Mon Jul 25, 2011 3:40 pm

Another option would be to drive up the Iowa Gulch road and camp. There are a number of turn out/flat meadows along the road and very few people. Last time I was up you could drive 2wd all the way to the Sherman TR which would be another moderate 14er close to town.
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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby jmnhawk » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:26 pm

People have made lots of good suggestions. Camping at Halfmoon can be quite nice, especially when the fishing is good and when it isn't crowded. However, I would avoid Halfmoon on weekends, or just get there early on Friday if you want a campsite. It can be a busy place.

Don't forget that you can access the west side of Mt. Sherman from Leadville. I highly recommend stopping in Sawatch Backcountry when you get to town. The owner and staff are quite knowledgeable and will be happy to give you information on lots of hikes in the area. If you need a good cup of coffee, try Proving Grounds.

I lived in Leadville for a winter and I have made several trips back to the area for months at a time, so if you have more specific questions feel free to send me a message.

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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby queue_ball » Mon Jul 25, 2011 7:33 pm

Whatever you do in Leadville, go to the Grille and get something with sopapillas and green chile. you will be glad you did. And as for the green chile ale on tap...well, it's essential.


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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby CHWitte » Tue Jul 26, 2011 5:41 am

If you want to do some camping in a very historical area where some of our nation's finest soldiers trained during WWII, check out the Camp Hale campground just north of Leadville on US 24. You can tent camp in some of the same places that our grandfathers camped 65+ years ago while training for combat in Italy during WWII.

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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby Motown Mike » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:26 am

Here is the link to a trip report to the Leadville area and Camp Hale I did last fall...

You won't regret a trip to Leadville...

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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby ATSinged » Sun Aug 28, 2011 9:17 pm

Sorry to resurrect a dead thread, but I wanted to thank everyone for the advice, it was all on the money.

We stayed at Elbert Creek campground for 6 days, fished the creek, emerald lake and walked halfmoon road to acclimate some.

Made it to the saddle of Massive on 8/24 before being turned back by weather, high enough on our first 14er in good enough shape to know we could have made it. Even knowing how fast weather can turn in the mountains from doing the AT, the change was still shockingly fast. We made the decision to bail after hearing thunder and seeing dark clouds from the saddle, within 5 minutes the temperature had dropped 20 degrees according to my thermometer and we were getting tagged by sleet and hail that escalated to buckshot size, a couple of near lightning strikes gave us good incentive to move quickly. We had appropriate gear (except gloves and my hands let me know the error of my ways) and made it down to tree line in good shape.

We had a successful hike up Elbert on 8/26, left before dawn and made the summit with time to spare before the daily afternoon storm rolled in. Got in to some rain while going down but nothing major before tree line. From camp it looked pretty bad for the people who were still heading up while we were going down.

Coming from 40 feet above sea level and being used to temperatures around 101 this time of year, the climate was a huge challenge and we probably needed warmer gear and far more breaks than a Colorado native but it was amazingly worthwhile. I can see why you guys are so hooked on this, we are and are already have a second round with Massive planned and are looking at other options for next year. My dad has started a "get in shape" regimen and is hoping to bag a 14er with us next year.

Lessons learned for any other newbies reading this:

If you are a flatlander, start training early and give yourself as much time as possible to acclimate. Going more than 14,000 feet out of your comfort zone is painful, i started serious training in May, dropped 25lbs, and was still puffing and blowing over 12,500 and summiting Elbert was just flat out hard.

Start up the trail really early in August. The storms were daily, hit around 2:00PM and you really want to be done and below tree line when they hit. A headlamp start up the CT heading for Elbert helped us immensely and seeing first light through the trees near the split for Elbert was flat out beautiful.

For us, it was a serious physical challenge, but it was simply incredible, go do it...

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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby MtHurd » Mon Aug 29, 2011 2:28 pm

Glad you made it up Elbert and it was definitely a wise decision to turn around on Massive. It took me a while to learn to get a pre-dawn start, but I eventually figured it out. It sucks getting up that early but it is definitely worth it.

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Re: Newbie heading to Leadville in late August

Postby 14mountain » Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:20 pm

Lots of informal camping on County road 390, the road to Huron, Missouri, Belford, etc. Good camping at Winfield on the 4WD road to La Plata SW ridge route.
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