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Journey to our first 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby irchrisbrown » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:46 am

its_not_a_tuba wrote:If you are want to camp go climb Humboldt. Easy climb, no crowds, amazing camping. Bonus: you get great views of some serious peaks for your future dreams!


I will definitely look into Humboldt. I was looking at pictures and this one stuck out to me. It was in my original top five list. What can you tell me about the camping in the area?

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby irchrisbrown » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:47 am

Smilin Joe wrote:
irchrisbrown wrote:We really want to take on a 14er. I don't think our egos will let us do a 13er.


I don't mean to sound like a smart a$$ here, but IMHO it's best to leave the egos at home, then go seek out some of the vast beauty of Colorado regardless of the elevation.


Yes, it is hard to talk about your own humility without sounding like an a$$.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby irchrisbrown » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:54 am

Barry Raven wrote:+1 on San Luis.

Now, if you want to really make the trip memorable, do Windom. Take the train to Needleton, hike into Chicago Basin and set up camp. Do Windom the next day and camp. Hike out and take the train back to Durango. There are only two issues. There will be more people than San Luis and you will have to hang your food in Chicago Basin because of the animals (marmots, rabbits, and goats). If you do the peak during the week, there will be way less people. And if you have 1 more day, you can hike into Chicago Basin via Endlich Mesa and not have to pay $100 for a train ticket. You could do it in 3 days but it would be a long 3 days. It's best to stretch it out to 4. The views along this route are spectacular the entire way. Windom's summit view is just about as good as it gets. San Luis summit view is ok, but nothing like Windom.

Although the train is $100, it's pretty cool and worth it in my opinion.

Plan on bringing headlamps and start pre-dawn. Late July is right in the middle of the monsoon season. Afternoon storms can get fierce. You want to be off the summit by noon or before.


I forgot to mention that we would like to stay in the northern half of Colorado, Front or Mosquito Range, it think. We are spending the week up near Winter Park at a family reunion.

We will definitely bring a headlamp and leave early. I'm a stickler for being early and on time.

Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby its_not_a_tuba » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:46 am

irchrisbrown wrote:
its_not_a_tuba wrote:If you are want to camp go climb Humboldt. Easy climb, no crowds, amazing camping. Bonus: you get great views of some serious peaks for your future dreams!


I will definitely look into Humboldt. I was looking at pictures and this one stuck out to me. It was in my original top five list. What can you tell me about the camping in the area?


It is just an amazing cirque with the Crestones towering above you. It's a pretty enough place to have made the cover of Roach's 14ers guide book if that means anything to you! The hike in is fairly easy as well.
"Wilderness settles peace on the soul because it needs no help. It is beyond human contrivance." -- E.O. Wilson

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby Jim Davies » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:58 am

Humboldt is pretty awesome, but it's not that close to Winter Park, and getting up the road might be an issue if you don't have a high-clearance vehicle. Since you seem to value elevation over solitude, Grays and Torreys might be a better fit, since they're close, class 1, beautiful, and accessible (as well as being a twofer). Expect to see hundreds of people if you're there on a weekend.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of widths. -- Steven Wright

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby susanjoypaul » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:04 am

Hi Chris and Annie. I think the good people on this site would love to help you out, but you have to be reasonable in your expectations.

You want a 14er, in the northern Front Range or Mosquito Range, in July, without hordes of people. The 14ers in that area lie in the most densely populated area of the entire state, have easy-access trailheads, and - with the exception of Longs - they're all walk-ups. And July is the most popular month to hike them. In other words, your stipulations = the biggest hordes of people you can ever expect to find on a Colorado peak, any time.

My suggestion is to pick a different elevation (a 13er), a different range, or a different month. Or just expect to share the mountain with a bunch of other people - many of whom had the same expectations that you had, but will still be overjoyed once they reach the summit.

If you're willing to drive south a bit, do Pikes Peak from Barr Trail. You can hike partway up and camp at Barr Camp for the night, then summit and descend the next day. There will be hordes near the bottom, coming off the Incline, and hordes at the summit house on top, but you'll have most of the trail between Barr Camp and the summit to yourselves.

An added plus is that your egos will be thoroughly inflated by said hordes: The Incline folks, running down the trail in shorts and T-shirts, will think it's cool that you're hiking all the way to the top. The tourists on top will be amazed that you hiked all the way up - because they all drove or took the train.

Pikes gets a bad rap because of that big ugly summit house and the road to the top, but it's a beautiful peak. And, it will kick your asses - 26 miles and 7,500 feet of elevation! Big fat bragging rights, despite the encroachments.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby DeTour » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:07 am

I'd say Humboldt is perfect for you if you don't mind the +-4 hour drive on way. The camping there is fabulous - remote, serene, beautiful. There are quite a few good campsites around South Colony Lakes, at almost 12,000 feet. You hike past the earlier sites, along the creek by the old 4wd trailhead, and keep pushing higher even when you get near the lakes, until you get to right around tree line. Crestone Needle right outside your front tent flap is an experience worth driving for. (But be realistic about how cold/windy it could get at that elevation.)

Humboldt itself would be an excellent starter 14er for fit people. From S.Colony, it's the west ridge route. There's no real exposure on the route. Somewhere near the top there's a section where the class 2 trail winds around some boulders, but a lot of folks end up scrambling up the boulders for a fun little bit of easy class 3, still without any serious exposure. At/near the summit you come near the north face, which has a spectacular drop, but you don't have to go any closer to it than you want. And the views from there! The Needle, Crestone Peak, Broken Hand Peak, even Columbia-Kit Carson- Challenger aren't that far away.

The folks promoting 13ers have a point for avoiding crowds while still experiencing spectacular and challenging mountains. But they have to realize what it's like to be from out-of-state - when opportunities to experience the mountains are so rare, it's hard to pass on the big boys. Humboldt requires driving right past a number of other 14ers and other great mountains, but it delivers what you're looking for.

One way to avoid the worst crowds, regardless of the mountain you pick, is to do it on a weekday if your family schedule allows. We've hiked some popular 14ers in prime late August weeks, on weekdays, and sometimes seen very few or even no other hikers. I'm sure you wouldn't be alone at South Colony Lakes that week, but there might not be a lot of other hikers on Humboldt if you can go up on a weekday. (Some campers will be there for Crestone Peak and/or Needle, or just to enjoy the S.Colony Lakes area sans 14ers.)

Yep, it's settled. Humboldt from South Colony Lakes. I can pretty much guarantee you'll fall in love with the place.
when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby eagrnnr » Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:00 am

I did Bierdstat as my first. It was quite short and easy, we were up in just a few hours. I wouldn't recommend Elbert. The mountain itself is easy, but it's got some unrelenting up. You gain 1000 ft of elevation every mile for 4 miles. I wasn't good at pacing myself but it winded me multiple times. I'd do Gray's and Torrey's. Get 2 for the price of one, and unlike Elbert, it's actually a really pretty hike, and there's some mining ruins you can see. We saw a mountain goat while we did Gray's. You do need to watch the weather on all of these. A lot of people will be going up late in the day and will get stormed on.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby boudreaux » Sat Jun 02, 2012 10:14 am

Lincoln and Bross from Quartzville Gulch is a good option. Nobody goes up this route, it's an old road to goes to the top of Lincoln and then you take the standard trail to Bross and you can do Cameron and Democrat as well. There may be some private property issues, I've done them this way and don't remember seeing any signage. A high clearance vehicle would be required to get to a campsite about a mile or so up on a knoll. You would be at treeline, so it could be windy. The weekday hike is your best bet, I've been on top of Grays on a weekday all by myself on a Monday. MTW are good days to go, everyone hikes the weekends and heads home by Sunday afternoon, love those Sunday drives on I-70 to Denver.

Grays Peak from Peru Gulch is a nice one out of Keystone/Montezuma

Mt Evans from Deer Creek/Tanglewood TH in Bailey is very remote and you can get a few 13ers on the way and take a different route back to the TH.
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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby DeTour » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:06 pm

OneArmSteve, eagrnnr, boudreaux, you guys aren't paying attention. We decided on Humboldt.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby itsallgood » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:16 pm

DeTour wrote:I'd say Humboldt is perfect for you if you don't mind the +-4 hour drive on way. The camping there is fabulous - remote, serene, beautiful. There are quite a few good campsites around South Colony Lakes, at almost 12,000 feet. You hike past the earlier sites, along the creek by the old 4wd trailhead, and keep pushing higher even when you get near the lakes, until you get to right around tree line. Crestone Needle right outside your front tent flap is an experience worth driving for. (But be realistic about how cold/windy it could get at that elevation.)

Humboldt itself would be an excellent starter 14er for fit people. From S.Colony, it's the west ridge route. There's no real exposure on the route. Somewhere near the top there's a section where the class 2 trail winds around some boulders, but a lot of folks end up scrambling up the boulders for a fun little bit of easy class 3, still without any serious exposure. At/near the summit you come near the north face, which has a spectacular drop, but you don't have to go any closer to it than you want. And the views from there! The Needle, Crestone Peak, Broken Hand Peak, even Columbia-Kit Carson- Challenger aren't that far away.

The folks promoting 13ers have a point for avoiding crowds while still experiencing spectacular and challenging mountains. But they have to realize what it's like to be from out-of-state - when opportunities to experience the mountains are so rare, it's hard to pass on the big boys. Humboldt requires driving right past a number of other 14ers and other great mountains, but it delivers what you're looking for.

One way to avoid the worst crowds, regardless of the mountain you pick, is to do it on a weekday if your family schedule allows. We've hiked some popular 14ers in prime late August weeks, on weekdays, and sometimes seen very few or even no other hikers. I'm sure you wouldn't be alone at South Colony Lakes that week, but there might not be a lot of other hikers on Humboldt if you can go up on a weekday. (Some campers will be there for Crestone Peak and/or Needle, or just to enjoy the S.Colony Lakes area sans 14ers.)

Yep, it's settled. Humboldt from South Colony Lakes. I can pretty much guarantee you'll fall in love with the place.



Plus on the way back you can stop at Joyful Journey Hot Springs to soak away the soreness. http://www.joyfuljourneyhotsprings.com/ It's an amazing place with great views and is in my opinion the most underrated hot spring around. I used to drive by it a couple of times a month on my way to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs due mainly to the cheesy name, less than appealing appearance from Hwy 17 and the fact that the website doesn't do it justice. Got sick of driving one day and decided to stop and I haven't been back to Mt. Princeton since....plus Joyful is half the price. AND....the place is always empty which is definitely a perk.

Either way, enjoy your trip!!!!

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby eagrnnr » Sat Jun 02, 2012 12:40 pm

DeTour wrote:OneArmSteve, eagrnnr, boudreaux, you guys aren't paying attention. We decided on Humboldt.

Sorry for offering our views.

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