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Challenging but safe mountains?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby Jim Davies » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:13 am

I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!
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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby milan » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:36 am

Jim Davies wrote:I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!


Thanks for adding another point to my mountaineering "to do" list. :lol:

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby jsdratm » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:45 am

lol @ Mount Sunflower. That looks like a real challenge! :lol: Someone should get a picture there with all of their technical gear on and holding up an ice axe.

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby tmathews » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:46 am

Jim Davies wrote:I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!


Ian and Dorthe (MountainHiker and MountainHikerette) had an epic summit of Mt. Sunflower in the past couple of weeks. =D>

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby kansas » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:47 am

Jim Davies wrote:I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!

there are some technical sections on the standard route, Jim.
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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby bergsteigen » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:48 am

jsdratm wrote:lol @ Mount Sunflower. That looks like a real challenge! :lol: Someone should get a picture there with all of their technical gear on and holding up an ice axe.



You mean like this: (http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=7109)

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby CO Native » Mon Apr 02, 2012 9:57 am

Well if you've managed to hang on even through all the previous unhelpful posts I hope I can provide some useful information.

There are a number of mountains in Colorado that will give you a challenge without putting you in precarious situations. The danger you are referring to is measured in two ways on this website. One is the class of the the climb. All the 14ers in Colorado are ranked from class 1 through class 4 (with some alternative routes that do get into the class 5 range). Class 1 and class 2 routes are generally easy paths and don't involve any climbing just walking. You'll want to stick with those. For a list of those visit Bill's Route by Difficulty list.

The other aspect of which you need to be aware is exposure. This is basically an evaluation of the routes proximity to dangerous terrain and the seriousness of that terrain. One example of a low class trail with high exposure is Kit Carson Avenue. This section of a route is easy walking on a ledge maybe ranked class 2, however it is only about a 6 foot wide ledge on the side of significant cliffs. You can see a summary of 14ers and their standard route exposure here.

You will also likely want to wait until late enough in the season that snow is not a factor. (This year looks like you won't have to wait long.) Even on an easy trail a snow field crossing can be hazardous.

Basically you want to keep these factors low and then look for something with a lot of elevation gain and distance. This will get you a great physical challenge, yet you will be on trails that in themselves pose little risk to your well being. You will need to make sure you have the navigation skills to stay on route as well though. If you get off route all bets are off for the type of terrain you will encounter.

On all trails of course there are other factors that aren't as easily measured. Weather for one can pose a risk to you, but you can help reduce this risk by avoiding days with poor forecasts and getting very early starts to your hikes. Animals don't pose much of a risk but you need to keep them in mind. Especially those dang rodents stealing your snacks. By far though, the greatest number of deaths on 14ers are caused by falls.

I recommend considering Pikes Peak via the Barr trail. With over 7,000 vertical feet to gain and over 20 miles round trip it will be a great challenge. Yet the trail itself is just considered class 1 and the exposure is minimal. Also the snow on Pikes melts out early.

Also the East Slopes route of Massive is a great route. It's not near as popular of a trail as most which will give you some great solitude in the mountains. Plus with 4,500 feet gained and nearly 14 miles round trip you'll feel like you've accomplished something by the end of the day.
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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby mattpayne11 » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:30 am

bergsteigen wrote:
jsdratm wrote:lol @ Mount Sunflower. That looks like a real challenge! :lol: Someone should get a picture there with all of their technical gear on and holding up an ice axe.



You mean like this: (http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=7109)

Image



Classic!!!!

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby DeTour » Mon Apr 02, 2012 10:52 am

Jim Davies wrote:I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!

I dunno about that. I see there's a cattle guard involved. What's the stampede hazard rating?
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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby steelfrog » Mon Apr 02, 2012 12:41 pm

peter303 wrote:Plus passing company means potential help if you get in trouble.


MAYBE. "Potential" being the key adjective. Come on, who among us has not slinked quickly and quietly by someone who looks like they are struggling and out of their element?

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby MtnHub » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:27 pm

DeTour wrote: Jim Davies wrote:I think Mount Sunflower fits the criteria perfectly. It's even a state high point!


I dunno about that. I see there's a cattle guard involved. What's the stampede hazard rating?


It also looks like a major lightening hazard. You definitely want to be off the summit by noon! (and in this case, probably a good 100 miles or so from the actual summit) :wink:

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Re: Challenging but safe moutains?

Postby ChrisRoberts » Mon Apr 02, 2012 2:27 pm

steelfrog wrote:
peter303 wrote:Plus passing company means potential help if you get in trouble.


MAYBE. "Potential" being the key adjective. Come on, who among us has not slinked quickly and quietly by someone who looks like they are struggling and out of their element?


Yes, but if they asked for help I'm sure 95% of us would help them out, especially if the mountain isn't popular, because I know I could be the only person they'd see all day. I'm actually less tolerant* of people on popular mountains or close to trailheads than way out in the backcountry.

*kinda hard to pick a word that doesnt make me sound like a douche. If someone was in distress I'd help them regardless. If someone asks me how far to the lake when I'm still in the parking lot its unlikely I'm going to stop and chat.

Back to the original topic, as someone else said, ask for a general area where you might start out climbing and people can guide you from there.
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