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New to Elks/San Juans

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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New to Elks/San Juans

Postby ChrisRoberts » Thu Aug 18, 2011 9:01 pm

Hey guys, as I'm getting more and more excited about 14er climbing and hope to acheive all 50 something 14ers, I realize at some point I'll need to venture into more remote areas. What worries me is that someday I'll need to knock off some of the more difficult and distant peaks and am a little concerned about the San Juans and Elks.
Is there any one peak you would suggest in each range that would be a good measuring stick for the rest in the area? For example, what peak in the Elks would prepare me for the more difficult ones, like Maroon or Pyramid? The same for the San Juans.
Some rise, some fall, some climb to get to terrapin
Read all about my schemes and adventuring at NoCo Chris Latest TR: Kansas City for the summer

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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby kullpeak » Thu Aug 18, 2011 10:38 pm

Chris, the Elks are unique and all challenging to some degree. Id recommend Snowmass as a good start (note I have not done Castle - which I sense is pretty doable as well.) Capital, Pyramid and the Bells are require good comfort with exposure and class 3/4 climbing.The eastern San Juan's are all pretty easy, perhaps excluding Wetterhorn, which is a good Class 3 intro. For the western San Juan's - I'd start with Sneffels. The Chicago Basin and Wilson group are both areas that require some comfort with class 3/4. These two areas are the most fun ranges to climb as they are a bit less crowded and wonderfully scenic. Good luck!

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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby MtHurd » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:00 pm

Castle is a fairly easy Elk 14er, especially late in the year when there is less snow.

Wetterhorn or Sneffels is a good start for the San Juans.

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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby Joey » Thu Aug 18, 2011 11:03 pm

Here's what I think a good progression in the Elks would be:
Castle/Conundrum, Snowmass, Maroon, North Maroon, Pyramid, Capitol.
Maroon might kick your butt at first (getting up the East Slope sucks), but it'll make North Maroon and Pyramid seem easier, due to their shorter distances.
I think the whole danger aspect of the Bells/Pyramid (loose rock, exposure) is a bit overrated, if you're mentally and physically prepared for it. Castle is good preparation and I'm sure Snowmass is, too, but I haven't done it yet.

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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby Rcizzle » Fri Aug 19, 2011 8:10 am

I mostly agree with everything said here. One problem with the elks is that they are fundamentally different than other peaks. The biggest issue is the route challenges they present are very unique. There is a huge difference between the difficulties on castle and maroon. With the exception of CastCun all the elks are of equal difficulty. Don't let me scare you but they are pretty challenging and you might have to get your feet wet on one of these. My first of the dirty dozen was maroon. It's a challenge physically and mentally. The exposure isn't bad but route finding is tough which extended my time on the peak as I learned that skill. It helps to bring pictures of the route. You'll learn alot just by doing one. As for the San Juans, there are alot of walk up mountains. Sneffels and wetterhorn being the more interesting And easy then the wilsons. San Juans have a mountain for everyone.
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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby mtree » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:06 am

Gotta agree with Rcizzle. The Elks are a class to themselves. Although Castle will give you some flavor of the rock in this area, only climbing S. Maroon will give you the real in-your-face introduction to these peaks.

The San Juans are a varied bunch. From easy walk ups to some serious hikes. Overall, the rock isn't as bad or dangerous as the Elks. I think Uncompahgre is a good representation of the area. Have fun!
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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby ChrisRoberts » Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:09 pm

Thanks for the info guys, I really didn't know where to begin.
Some rise, some fall, some climb to get to terrapin
Read all about my schemes and adventuring at NoCo Chris Latest TR: Kansas City for the summer

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Re: New to Elks/San Juans

Postby MtHurd » Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:33 pm

ChrisRoberts wrote:Thanks for the info guys, I really didn't know where to begin.


Once you get to the San Juans, you'll wonder why you didn't get there sooner.

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