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Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby APStrike » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:09 am

Hey, I'll be visiting the Denver area for 5 days in early Oct and would greatly appreciate expert advice on climbing in Fall.

Specifically:

1) Given baggage limits, is it safe for me to climb with just some wicking shirts, a fleece, and a shell coat, or do I need heavier stuff?

2) I was gonna stay in Idaho Springs and climb Greys & Torreys and/or the James Peak Wilderness cuz these are easy and I've done them before. Are there better options nearby, esp. if the weather is bad? Obviously I want to bag a peak, but if that is impossible I'd still enjoy a pretty hike at a lower elevation.

3) Are there better places to stay than Idaho Springs? On my last trip I stayed in Winter Park and enjoyed it, but the early AM drive down to the mountains was less fun.

Thanks to you all for helping me plan a trip that is both fun and realistic for the season. All the best,

- Andy -

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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby MtHurd » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:16 am

Sometimes October is good, sometimes not so good. I wouldn't take a chance though, I'd bring warmer stuff. Buy an 800 fill goose down jacket and it'll fit in your bag. Bring a waterproof shell to go over it.

Idaho Springs is a decent place to stay. Grays and Torreys should be ok as long as the weather is good. I've heard that the road up to the Grays trailhead is pretty rutted out right now unless they grated it recently, so you may want to rent an SUV instead of an economy car.

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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby djkest » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:19 am

Barry Raven pretty much nailed it. I've only done 2 - 14ers in October. The first was I think October 2nd. It was below freezing when I started in the morning. Later on, it warned up a little, but there was thunder and snow by the time I came down. On October 30th, Quandary Peak was completely covered in snow, but it wasn't really that cold. So I guess it just depends, but it will probably be colder.
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby SurfNTurf » Fri Aug 17, 2012 11:44 am

APStrike wrote:1) Given baggage limits, is it safe for me to climb with just some wicking shirts, a fleece, and a shell coat, or do I need heavier stuff?


As mentioned, I'd pick up at least a midweight down/synthetic sweater.

2) I was gonna stay in Idaho Springs and climb Greys & Torreys and/or the James Peak Wilderness cuz these are easy and I've done them before. Are there better options nearby, esp. if the weather is bad? Obviously I want to bag a peak, but if that is impossible I'd still enjoy a pretty hike at a lower elevation.


Have you done Bierstadt yet? It could be something new if you've already climbed Grays/Torreys. Quandary is within easy striking distance, as well. If it doesn't have to be a 14er, there are several loop options from the tops of Loveland Pass and Berthoud Pass.

3) Are there better places to stay than Idaho Springs? On my last trip I stayed in Winter Park and enjoyed it, but the early AM drive down to the mountains was less fun.


I'm assuming you have to stay close to Denver or else I'd suggest a ton of other towns. Idaho Springs should work fine, especially if you choose a hike east of the Eisenhower Tunnel.
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby APStrike » Thu Aug 23, 2012 3:43 pm

Thanks to Barry, djkest, and SurfNTurf ;-)

I will get a proper down jacket. Here in Virginia I can practically hike in a t-shirt all year long.

Thanks too for the recommends on Bierstadt and Quandary. You're right, I may want to try one of these shorter and easier hikes before trying Grey's & Torrey's again.

Since this is a shorter trip I think I'll go with Idaho Springs but I'd be curious to see what else you'd recommend for future trips. I normally try to avoid the touristy stuff when I can.

Thanks again to you all,

Andy

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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby jmkaes » Thu Aug 23, 2012 4:57 pm

We have come to Colorado the last two Octobers. Two years ago, we had a great experience climbing Shavano and Yale. There was snow but it was still hikeable. Last year was a disaster. We were turned back from Missouri, Massive and Red Cloud due to the snow and blowing winds. While the weather was quite nice at the trailhead, above 13k it was definitely winter. I would recommend that you check the weather conditions very carefully and adjust your clothing and footgear as necessary. Definitely layer if you can.

The only way we made it up as far as we did on Missouri and Red Cloud was by using snowshoes. One of the best things about going in October is that you will likely see very few other hikers. As to where to stay, I would recommend Leadville or Buena Vista because of their central location to so many 14ers. This year we are going out in early September to re-hike Missouri, Massive and Red Cloud, and time permitting, Wetterhorn. Enjoy! We are really looking forward to getting away from Chicago and will be camping this year for the first time.
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby edhaman » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:04 pm

The road to the Grays Peak trailhead was graded about 3 weeks ago. I was up there last Saturday and it was fine. Of course that doesn't mean it will be fine in October.

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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby Jim Davies » Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:07 pm

edhaman wrote:The road to the Grays Peak trailhead was graded about 3 weeks ago.

Gawd, I don't believe it...we were up there 20 days ago (Aug 3), and it had chuckholes the size of Volkswagon beetles. #-o They probably graded it the next morning. :guns:
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby Scotzman » Mon Sep 03, 2012 8:55 am

So is October the transition month from summer/shoulder season into winter hiking? I know back here in the NE that month is usually November; don't see very many on the trails then.
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby tehchad » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:20 pm

edhaman wrote:The road to the Grays Peak trailhead was graded about 3 weeks ago. I was up there last Saturday and it was fine. Of course that doesn't mean it will be fine in October.


SRSLY?!?!?!?
Wow. =D>

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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby SilverLynx » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:06 pm

tehchad wrote:
edhaman wrote:The road to the Grays Peak trailhead was graded about 3 weeks ago. I was up there last Saturday and it was fine. Of course that doesn't mean it will be fine in October.


SRSLY?!?!?!?
Wow. =D>


I'm gonna buy a lotto ticket. They graded the GT road. :-D
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Re: Advice for a Newbie - Climbing in Early Oct.?

Postby Scott P » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:09 pm

So is October the transition month from summer/shoulder season into winter hiking? I know back here in the NE that month is usually November; don't see very many on the trails then.


Maybe, maybe not. It can be summer like or winter like and sometimes the transition can be measured in a day or even in a few hours. Temperatures in Colorado have varied from -20F to 100F, so just dress for those conditions and you will be covered. :wink:

Anyway, October is one of the least predictable months. It can be pretty snow free, even in late October, or the mountains can be buried in several feet of snow.

Come anyway though. If the weather is good, go climb a high peak. If it is bad and the freeways are in reasonable conditions, the desert areas around Grand Junction (for example) are wonderful "bad weather" destinations. There are other lower destinations around Denver/Front Range cities that are closer as well. Blizzards can still hit the plains/front range cities in October, but they are rare around places like Grand Junction.
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