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First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby jlhiking » Tue Jun 26, 2012 7:59 pm

I am climbing my first 14er Mt. Blanca in a couple of weeks. I grew up in the San Luis Valley and this has been a goal for quite a while now. We will most likely do the Lake Como approach as it is the easiest even though I have heard the road is less than desirable. We have a stock 4Runner that I assume can get us to at least 8800'. We will camp at Lake Como and summit the next day. Any advice as this is my first 14er? Also, I recently saw a trip report with an alternate route through Zapata Lake Trail. Anyone know if this is too difficult?

Also, I have good boots (Vasque), however I am prone to blisters with them. Any recommendation for good hiking socks to avoid hot spots and blisters?

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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby Tornadoman » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:27 am

I am doing Blanca next week with the same plan as you, backpacking in to Lake Como and climbing it (and Ellingwood) the next day. This will be the 2nd/3rd of July, I can send you a message and let you know how it was. Your plan seems reasonable, and although that isn't the typical 1st 14er, many people have done much more difficult routes.

I am also prone to blisters. Last year I starting using an over the counter blister spray that you can find at any drugstore. It worked well for me and greatly reduced the number and severity of blisters. It didn't completely eliminate them, but was certainly a huge improvement.

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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby USAKeller » Wed Jun 27, 2012 5:27 am

jlhiking wrote:Also, I have good boots (Vasque), however I am prone to blisters with them. Any recommendation for good hiking socks to avoid hot spots and blisters?

Where do your blisters happen? I posted this in another thread but I'll post it again here. Forum member Joe W taught me what I now think works awesome for blister prevention...

He put some Tincture of Benzoin all around my heel, let it dry for a few seconds, then put a few-inch strip of Leuko tape around my heel. The Benzoin is a treatment for damaged skin and acts as another adhesive on top of an aggressive adhesive tape. It worked like magic and the tape easily stuck so well for 3 days when I finally had to "pry" it off. I tried this with regular athletic tape the next weekend and it didn't stay on. Sure, you'd have to buy these things (not too expensive though), but it truly works like a charm.
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby packratt » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:24 am

To avoid blisters I wear a heavy merino wool sock. REI Heavy hiking socks have been working very well for me. I have done long, hard hikes in the Appalachians (half of the time soaking wet from the rain and fog) and and handful of 14ers in these socks and have never had a blister. They are a tad warm in hot weather, but its a tradeoff I'm willing to deal with. They even feel good (and warm) when they're wet. They're resaonably priced too, cheaper than Smartwool.

Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby forbins_mtn » Wed Jun 27, 2012 6:42 am

+1 on the REI hiking socks. I got a ton of blisters when I first started hiking due to me not wanting to spend $10 on a pair of socks. I went REI and Smartwool and have not had a blister since

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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby MtnClimber82 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:44 am

USAKeller wrote:
jlhiking wrote:Also, I have good boots (Vasque), however I am prone to blisters with them. Any recommendation for good hiking socks to avoid hot spots and blisters?

Where do your blisters happen? I posted this in another thread but I'll post it again here. Forum member Joe W taught me what I now think works awesome for blister prevention...

He put some Tincture of Benzoin all around my heel, let it dry for a few seconds, then put a few-inch strip of Leuko tape around my heel. The Benzoin is a treatment for damaged skin and acts as another adhesive on top of an aggressive adhesive tape. It worked like magic and the tape easily stuck so well for 3 days when I finally had to "pry" it off. I tried this with regular athletic tape the next weekend and it didn't stay on. Sure, you'd have to buy these things (not too expensive though), but it truly works like a charm.

I've never heard of Leuko tape, where can you get it?

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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby djkest » Wed Jun 27, 2012 7:59 am

MtnClimber82 wrote:
USAKeller wrote:
jlhiking wrote:Also, I have good boots (Vasque), however I am prone to blisters with them. Any recommendation for good hiking socks to avoid hot spots and blisters?

Where do your blisters happen? I posted this in another thread but I'll post it again here. Forum member Joe W taught me what I now think works awesome for blister prevention...

He put some Tincture of Benzoin all around my heel, let it dry for a few seconds, then put a few-inch strip of Leuko tape around my heel. The Benzoin is a treatment for damaged skin and acts as another adhesive on top of an aggressive adhesive tape. It worked like magic and the tape easily stuck so well for 3 days when I finally had to "pry" it off. I tried this with regular athletic tape the next weekend and it didn't stay on. Sure, you'd have to buy these things (not too expensive though), but it truly works like a charm.

I've never heard of Leuko tape, where can you get it?


Amazon. Furthermore, if you get a blister, "gluing" the skin back in place with new skin or superglue should be the first defense if you can. The above advice is really solid. I find good wool socks make a huge difference.

Lake como road is an easy but loose hike and can be very hot on the lower stretches. I would also recommend not attempting to drive higher than 8800' with your vehicle- it's not worth it, the road is really rough above that area.
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby painless4u2 » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:19 am

Also, I recently saw a trip report with an alternate route through Zapata Lake Trail. Anyone know if this is too difficult?


Here's a vote for the S. Zapata Lake approach, especially if you like solitude and really want to avoid the "road". You'll also summit Ellingwood Point (twice!). Since I've never done the Como Lake approach, I can't compare difficulties, but the Zapata approach isn't particularly hard. You will need to do a little route finding after the lake, however, so if you'd prefer a "trail" most of the way, then the Como route may be better. That said, if you look at the previous TR's on the Zapata Route, you really shouldn't have a problem. And Blanca is an awesome peak!
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby GregMiller » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:23 am

As far as blisters go, I've always had good luck doubling up on my socks. In my current boots, I wear non-cotton athletic socks (they wick awesomely) underneath some smartwool or similar. They shift around each other, rather than against my foot, which is what I assume keeps my feet from blistering. If your boots already fit well with one pair of socks, I know you can find super thin liner socks, that are pretty slick so they take care of the sliding without adding too much thickness. In the end, my feet are a little hotter at the end of the day, and probably end up slightly sweatier than they otherwise would, but I've never had any problems with it.
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby hotrod » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:34 am

Ditto on the above method, but I use Injini toe socks as a liner, which prevents toes from rubbing together. That's where I always used to get my blisters.
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby USAKeller » Wed Jun 27, 2012 8:52 am

MtnClimber82 wrote:
USAKeller wrote:
jlhiking wrote:Also, I have good boots (Vasque), however I am prone to blisters with them. Any recommendation for good hiking socks to avoid hot spots and blisters?

Where do your blisters happen? I posted this in another thread but I'll post it again here. Forum member Joe W taught me what I now think works awesome for blister prevention...

He put some Tincture of Benzoin all around my heel, let it dry for a few seconds, then put a few-inch strip of Leuko tape around my heel. The Benzoin is a treatment for damaged skin and acts as another adhesive on top of an aggressive adhesive tape. It worked like magic and the tape easily stuck so well for 3 days when I finally had to "pry" it off. I tried this with regular athletic tape the next weekend and it didn't stay on. Sure, you'd have to buy these things (not too expensive though), but it truly works like a charm.

I've never heard of Leuko tape, where can you get it?

Yes, I got this off Amazon: Leuko Tape. And I got tincture of benzoin swabs off Amazon too; the swabs are easier to use than a vial and not so messy. REI also carries it but it's in a vial.
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Re: First 14er Mt. Blanca in July 2012, any advice?

Postby jlhiking » Wed Jun 27, 2012 9:13 am

Thanks for the replies. We are hopefully goind during the week to avoid crowds the 2nd week in July. I would really like to go the Zapata Lake approach and would like to know more if anyone know of any good links or TRs beside the most recent from user geojed. I am a little considered about taking a more difficult path after the trail ends and not knowing were to go. There will be four of us going all in decent shape, Colorado natives. It would be nice to do two 14ers as a first 14er trip (Blanca and Ellingwood). Again, what class would you say this is. I really don't want to do anything harder than a class 2 right now.

Thanks for the advice on the blisters. I will look into some liners and the Leuko tape. I get the blisters under my pinky toes (they tend to curl under my feet naturally) and just about my heel below my achilles (just the left side). Other than that just hot spots. I normally wear smartwool hiking socks that aren't too think, but they still seem to hot for me. I am also thinking of getting bridgedale light hiking socks or their trekker socks.

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