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Trip In Late July/August

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Trip In Late July/August

Postby adirondackmike » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:06 pm

Hello all!

Stumbled upon this incredible resource because I am in the preliminary stages of planning a trip to CO to do some hiking.

I'd like to do a weekish long backpacking trip (5-7 nights). Ideally the trip would look something like this:

Day 1: Hike in to a basin with a lake.
Days 2, 3,: Hike each day in surrounding peaks returning to campsite each afternoon.
Day 4: Move camp to new location in order to access different mountains (preferably also near a lake).
Day 5, 6, 7: Hike each day in surrounding peaks returning to campsite each afternoon.
Day 8: Hike out.

Since I'd be arriving in Colorado only day or two before, to acclimate I'd like to find a place to camp at 7-8k+ ft , hike to 10-11k the first day, and then 12-13 the next. During the middle of my trip (days 5, 6, 7) I'd like to climb some 14ers by class 2 or class 3 routes if I am feeling well.

At this point I'm looking for ideas as to which area to start this trek from. And from there I'd like to select places to camp and peaks to hike. I am interested in purchasing some maps and perhaps a guidebook once I select the region.

Any ideas, advice, or suggestions about anything would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks ahead of time!

Mike

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby justify429 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:12 pm

Chicago basin is nice are has water supply with plenty of mountains to climb in the are. Little above your 8k marker though. And its a very beautiful area.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby adirondackmike » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:33 pm

justify429 wrote:Chicago basin is nice are has water supply with plenty of mountains to climb in the are. Little above your 8k marker though. And its a very beautiful area.


Thanks I'll definitely look into. As for the 8 k, I'd like to camp at or above it to acclimate so its no problem if higher.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby Brian Thomas » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:41 pm

Consider getting a Diamox prescription, a flatlander friend did last summer and hiked to 14,000' less than 48 hours after getting off the plane without any issues.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby peter303 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:44 pm

1) The Maroon Bells out of Aspen is the classic loop hike with outstanding views and vigorous passes.
But the most of the 14ers there are considered advanced and somewhat dangerous.

2) A section of the Colorado Trail between Leadville and Buena Vista passes by several easier 14ers.
You'd have hitchhike to close the loop. I have shuttled hitchhikers at times when I've finished a climb there.

3) If you dont mind just one 14er, there are plenty of lakes and scenic backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Plenty of 12K and 13K peaks hike along certain paths.

4) People more interested bagging 14ers than backpacking sometimes do "starfish trips" where you camp more or less in one area, then climb 14ers as multiple day trips. Chicago basin near Durrango is one place. Colony Lake down in the San De Christos is another. And I saw some discussions of doing this in the northern Sawatch near Buena Vista, but forgot the details.

All these places are fairly busy at this time of year. Weekdays are less busy.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby adirondackmike » Tue Jan 10, 2012 12:55 pm

peter303 wrote:1) The Maroon Bells out of Aspen is the classic loop hike with outstanding views and vigorous passes.
But the most of the 14ers there are considered advanced and somewhat dangerous.

2) A section of the Colorado Trail between Leadville and Buena Vista passes by several easier 14ers.
You'd have hitchhike to close the loop. I have shuttled hitchhikers at times when I've finished a climb there.

3) If you dont mind just one 14er, there are plenty of lakes and scenic backpacking in Rocky Mountain National Park.
Plenty of 12K and 13K peaks hike along certain paths.

4) People more interested bagging 14ers than backpacking sometimes do "starfish trips" where you camp more or less in one area, then climb 14ers as multiple day trips. Chicago basin near Durrango is one place. Colony Lake down in the San De Christos is another. And I saw some discussions of doing this in the northern Sawatch near Buena Vista, but forgot the details.

All these places are fairly busy at this time of year. Weekdays are less busy.


I think the Maroon Bells hike would be a bit much to start with.

When you say busy, do you mean not able to find a campsite busy?

I really don't mind doing just one 14er, although ideally each day I'd like to do some scrambling above treeline and get onto some summits. I am as interested in solitude as I am in scrambling, so a less visited area with less 14ers may actually be a better option.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby adirondackmike » Tue Jan 10, 2012 1:29 pm

Brian Thomas wrote:Consider getting a Diamox prescription, a flatlander friend did last summer and hiked to 14,000' less than 48 hours after getting off the plane without any issues.


I've had some experience with altitude before:

I was ok to 12k with 1 night camped at 7k and 1 night camped at 9k.
I was ok to 13k with 1 night at 8k and 1 night at 10k.
I was ok to 14k with 2 nights at 10k.
I felt like crap when going from 0k to 12k in 48 hours.

I think if I stay 2 nights with a friend near Silverthorne (9k) before the trip and then spend a night around 10k, I will be ok to 12-13k. After 5 days I expect to be ok to 14 k.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby crossfitter » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:00 pm

South colony lakes seems like a perfect choice to me. Great area, good variety in difficulty, lots of other peaks/attractions nearby. You could stay in Westcliffe for a night, or camp at the lowest trailhead. The upper trailhead is just below 10k and the lakes are at 11500'. Chicago basin would also be a good candidate.

One note of caution: late July/early August is monsoon season and there is a chance your trip could get stormed out by days or even weeks of continuous moisture. If possible, you may want to move your trip to mid July or mid August to reduce the chances of that happening.
- A mountain is not a checkbox to be ticked
- Alpinism and mountaineering are not restricted to 14,000 foot mountains
- Judgment and experience are the two most important pieces of gear you own
- Being honest to yourself and others about your abilities is a characteristic of experienced climbers
- Courage cannot be bought at REI or carried with you in your rucksack


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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby justify429 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:08 pm

Agreed south colony lakes are great. Humboldt Columbia (13,980) broken hand pass (13k) I believe the crestone peak needle, obstruction all do able from the lakes. Also good fishing in lake. I was there last July 27th with good weather just 10min drizzle in afternoons.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby painless4u2 » Tue Jan 10, 2012 4:47 pm

If you're talking about backpacking the whole thing (verses moving your camp via a drive to a new location), with multiple climbs in each place, it would be hard to beat Crater Lake to access Pyramid and both Maroons, then a hike over to Snowmass Lake, and bag Snowmass and possibly surrounding peaks. This offers some of the most spectacular scenery around, but are rather challenging peaks to start off with. Personally, I'd do the Chicago Basin, either with the train ride, or up Johnson Creek from Lake Vallecito (I've done both). You can no longer camp at Twin Lakes, but you have water all the way on either approach. This was my intro to 14ers, and I've been hooked ever since. Enjoy!
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9

Bad decisions often make good stories.

Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby gonzalj » Tue Jan 10, 2012 9:57 pm

As others have already mentioned, I really have to say south colony lakes. it's absolutely beautiful up there and you have numerous options in humboldt, the crestones & broken hand peak. Humboldt will definitely be the easiest of the group, but definitely a good way to go.

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Re: Trip In Late July/August

Postby MtHurd » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:34 pm

The Chicago Basin 14ers are your best bet, but Chicago Basin is usually crowded and the critters will chew your tent to shreds.

Day 1, take the train to Needleton and plan on camping there. On the other side of the bridge, take a left turn and hike a short distance down a trail that follows the river north. You will find ample camping opportunities there at a little over 8,000 ft. The next day, backpack past Chicago Basin and over Columbine Pass and camp at Columbine Lake. From there your climbing and hiking opportunities are endless. It's also possible you could find a good campsite at Little Lake just on the other side of Trimble Pass not far from Columbine lake (I haven't camped there so I don't know). If not, there are endless camping opportunities on Silver Mesa after passing Trimble Pass. There are quite a few small lakes around there guaranteed not to have any people. Most of the 13ers around there are seldom climbed and great peaks with awesome views. It will be a long day, but any one of the 14ers can be done from Columbine Lake as a day climb.

Storms are likely during the time you plan on going. If the weather is bad, hike on down the trail a ways towards Vallecito Creek and camp below timberline. Camping above timberline can be dangerous during storms.

If you don't mind not doing a 14er, Ice Lakes Basin near Silverton is a fantastic place to stay for a few days. You could camp at Island Lake and Fuller Lake. Click on the following link and drool. Hiking back out isn't unreasonable so making a food run to Silverton in the middle of your 7 days can be an option too. Even a shower.

http://www.kaephotography.com/photo/island-lake-dream/?gallery=alpine-wildflowers

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