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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 klinger » Sat Jun 02, 2012 1:05 pm

1. Pikes truly is a badass hike, I did the 15mile version from the Crags side, and when you get to the top there are so many people up there that notice your pack, at least 3 will be like "holy s**t did you just HIKE up here?!?" Its sweet and was my first. The final pitch on that side as you approach from Devil's Playground is really gratifying (class 2 that looks like a few hundred feet of wall).

2. Northern Sawatch offers quite a few peaks between Mt of the Holy Cross, Massive and Elbert really close, La Plata and Huron nearby, and all the collegiates just slightly further south. You will encounter far less people here than on the peaks that you mentioned by only driving another 45minutes or so (not 4 hours). There is also alot of great free camping along most of the access roads and near the TH's.

3. If you follow the suggestion to do alternate routes just make sure to study the route and be confident with a little routefinding (gps/map), sometimes these trails can be slightly harder to follow.

4. Really like the Sawatch for you, instead of hiking in to camp, another option you would have here is to drive to the Leadville area, climb one, camp when you get back in the midafternoon and then climb another the next day. You said "wouldnt mind hiking to camp, then summiting next day" but not sure if you were actually looking to include camping. Seems most of the peaks that require a 2 day approach are further drives with the exception of Longs.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby Kitten » Sat Jun 02, 2012 4:45 pm

Why are people so negative? Let him hear all the opinions and suggestions and make a final decission.

+1 on Humboldt, nice pike and nice camping area. I suggest you camp at lower or upper South Colony Lakes. There are lots of good places there.
"Do or do not, there is no try"
Yoda, Star Wars.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby DeTour » Sat Jun 02, 2012 5:52 pm

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


Sorry for offering our views.


Haven't figured out how to color text red from my phone. Didn't think it would be necessary. My apologies if anyone thought I was serious. You may notice the OP hadn't commented on the decision that I said "we" made.

I have promoted Sherman as an excellent starter 14er before - more interesting and not quite as crowded as Grays/Torreys. OneArmSteve's suggestion to do it from the west side has merit for avoiding crowds on at least the lower part of the route.

But the OP's desire to avoid crowds and affinity for camping points to Humboldt.
when you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby susanjoypaul » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:14 pm

DeTour wrote:Haven't figured out how to color text red from my phone. Didn't think it would be necessary.

It wasn't necessary.

I chuckled. Image

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby edhaman » Sat Jun 02, 2012 7:48 pm

I would not presume to tell anyone which 14er to do for their first. I can only comment on my experiences. The first 14er I did was Elbert. It took 12 hours and totally exhausted me. Until you have climbed you first mountain (14er or 13er), you really have no idea what it takes. For some it will be easier than expected, and for other more difficult. If I were to take anyone on their first 14er ascent, I would choose either Grays or Bierstadt by the standard routes. If you avoid weekends and holiday, I've never seen crowds.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby lostinvail » Sat Jun 02, 2012 8:55 pm

From my personal experience I would suggest Holy Cross. A few spots to camp near the creek, a variety of trail and some fun C2 talus, and not likely a crowded trail(unless traffic has changed the last few years). It was a good challenge and a very rewarding day, in my opinion. In general I believe ONE of the best ways to avoid crowds is to get further away from Denver...no offense Denver...ites.

Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby its_not_a_tuba » Sat Jun 02, 2012 9:06 pm

lostinvail wrote:From my personal experience I would suggest Holy Cross. A few spots to camp near the creek, a variety of trail and some fun C2 talus, and not likely a crowded trail(unless traffic has changed the last few years). It was a good challenge and a very rewarding day, in my opinion. In general I believe ONE of the best ways to avoid crowds is to get further away from Denver...no offense Denver...ites.


None taken
Last edited by its_not_a_tuba on Sun Jun 03, 2012 11:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby jet » Sun Jun 03, 2012 7:55 am

A suggestion for Elbert would be the Black Cloud route. You could backpack up to about treeliine near some old mines,cabin. There is a trail to the ridge at which point you just follow the ridge to Elbert. You could go over South Elbert either going or returning. We had the summit all to ourselves at 7:30 am. Only saw a couple dayhikers on our return.
Its not a bad thing to be on a more popular route for your 1st 14er. Until you know how you will react to the higher elevations it would probably be better to try a route with the probablity of more people. An early start will get you ahead of most people on a busy mountain and you can always offer encouragement to those coming up as you are going down.
The mountains are big and even if there are a lot of cars at the trailhead, in many cases you can still feel quite alone until maybe at or near the summit. The trailheads may offer access to other trails,mountains besides a 14er.

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby mount_quandary » Mon Jun 04, 2012 6:39 am

Oh my this is so exciting...planning to do a 14er...and your first one is even that much more exciting!! :D We have summited Quandary, Elbert, Handies, Huron (turned back on Challenger) We have basically had the whole Summit to ourselves each time ...Not sure if we just got lucky...but we always went on a Monday or Tuesday...somehow God smiled upon us because we always had perfect weather as well. 2 yrs. ago while canoeing on Twin Lakes we watched on the weekend the STREAM of people going up Elbert and I mean a STREAM of people!! So try to choose a weekday!!
There are some beautiful campsites further up on Elbert...(not necessary but you may enjoy that part of the experience!!)
On Handies we camped at the trailhead and there was nothing as beautiful as having a campfire in the American Basin and waking up to begin our hike with the Stars in that Basin!! it was one of my most favorite moments!!
We have hiked Mt. Ida (12, 800) as well as Spread Eagle over 13, 000 regardless you are on top of the World and the views are amazing BUT with that said if you want your experience to be 14er go for it!! the feeling you will have is amazing!! Each time it kicked our butts....but each time we can't wait to do it again!!
If you ever have the opportunity another incredible backpacking Hike is Ice Lake Basin...NO not a 14er but this was awesome!!

Enjoy and don't forget to STOP....SIT ....BE STILL....You will remember that moment as important as Standing on top of Your 14er :D
Hold your head up high, keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky, live like you're not afraid of dying, don't be scared just enjoy the ride!

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby Dave B » Mon Jun 04, 2012 8:10 am

irchrisbrown wrote:
planet54 wrote:
irchrisbrown wrote:My wife would like something a little less traveled. She says, "I don't want to run into a hundred people up there".


Climb a 13er. Seriously. :)



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


:roll:
"There is no cheating in climbing, only lying." - Semi-Rad

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Re: Journey to our first 14er

Postby djkest » Mon Jun 04, 2012 9:31 am

mount_quandary wrote:Oh my this is so exciting...planning to do a 14er...and your first one is even that much more exciting!! :D We have summited Quandary, Elbert, Handies, Huron (turned back on Challenger) We have basically had the whole Summit to ourselves each time ...Not sure if we just got lucky...but we always went on a Monday or Tuesday...
[snip] Enjoy and don't forget to STOP....SIT ....BE STILL....You will remember that moment as important as Standing on top of Your 14er :D


I think this is excellent advice. We did Mt. Yale on a Monday and saw exactly 0 people until we were on our way down when we saw a pair. And Yale sees it's fair share of crowds in the summer.

If you have access to a high-clearance vehicle, I'll throw out another suggestion: Redcloud and Sunshine. I was looking at my pictures from that hike last year- a lot of people camp out in the basin to make for an easier summit day. Very nice scenery, good trail/easy hiking; San Juan mountains on a Monday or Tuesday you might not see anyone.

Holy cross would be pretty cool but... keep in mind many good people have gotten lost in that area so you'd want to be careful. Oh yes, and have fun!
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