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easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby sheller » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:40 am

I've got a friend coming into town and he would like to climb a 14er this Friday.
I'm debating between Bierstadt, Grays, Quandary and Democrat. What do you recommend as the current easiest one. I'd prefer one that you could drive to with 2WD and that has descent amount of wind blockage. I was thinking Bierstadt, but it looks like there are some gate closures which will add another 4 miles of hiking.

Also, this is my first 14er in the winter.
Do you think the following gear list is sufficient to keep us comfortable-
2 layers of wool socks, waterproof hiking shoes, gaiters
thermals, fleece pants, water resistant hiking pants
fleece jacket, wind breaker, snow jacket
balaclava, thermal beanie, 2 gloves
microspikes, hiking poles

is there anything I'm missing, is this overkill???
I've got him bringing a similar amount of gear

Thanks,
Sam

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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby peter303 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:55 am

Winter, in terms of ground snow, hasnt really started in the central 14ers yet. Its still like October hiking.
However, it was quite cold in the wind on my 12/2 13er hike near Loveland. Prepare for -10F wind chills.

Quandry will have the best trailhead access.

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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby globreal » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:07 am

sheller wrote:I've got a friend coming into town and he would like to climb a 14er this Friday.
I'm debating between Bierstadt, Grays, Quandary and Democrat. What do you recommend as the current easiest one. I'd prefer one that you could drive to with 2WD and that has descent amount of wind blockage. I was thinking Bierstadt, but it looks like there are some gate closures which will add another 4 miles of hiking.

Also, this is my first 14er in the winter.
Do you think the following gear list is sufficient to keep us comfortable-
2 layers of wool socks, waterproof hiking shoes, gaiters
thermals, fleece pants, water resistant hiking pants
fleece jacket, wind breaker, snow jacket
balaclava, thermal beanie, 2 gloves
microspikes, hiking poles

is there anything I'm missing, is this overkill???
I've got him bringing a similar amount of gear

Thanks,
Sam


There is some snow coming in. Are you prepared for that?

Overkill? No. Everything you listed will probably be needed.

Missing?
-Sunglasses/goggles.
-Sunscreen.
-Ways to cover any/all exposed skin.
-Mittens? (Gloves may not be warm enough.)
-Emergency bivy. (I don't go out in winter without one.)
-How will you protect your water from freezing?
-Compass/map/GPS if caught in snow/blowing snow.
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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby Jim Davies » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:15 am

It's going to be very windy that day (winds in the 20's with gusts in the 30's), possibly with blowing snow from the (hopefully) several inches that might fall Thursday. You may want to rethink your plans. Staying below treeline will be more fun, IMO.
Some people are afraid of heights. Not me, I'm afraid of white blood cells.

Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby BobbyFinn » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:50 am

sheller wrote: waterproof hiking shoes


Does "shoes" mean "boots"? If not, you may want to wear boots. You'll likely encounter some snow along the route and it will be cold. I think boots are more appropriate, but I get cold feet easily.

Mittens are must haves in winter. Gloves don't usually cut it - at least for me.

Chemical handwarmers would be a good idea.

A down parka in your pack would give you an added level of safety in case you have to / want to sit down for a while.

Lip balm.

Ski goggles help block the wind and provide some sun protection.

Have fun.
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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby Rossback » Tue Dec 04, 2012 9:54 am

Mt. Sherman outside of Fairplay is an easy hike and it is accessible. Wind seems to always be a pain on the Mosquitoes though.
Bierstadt will be easy to get to -- I did the west ridge of evans from Guanella a few weeks ago and the conditions were fine. Friday's forecast looks pretty good actually, but there are some fronts coming through.

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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby GregMiller » Tue Dec 04, 2012 10:21 am

Rossback wrote:Mt. Sherman outside of Fairplay is an easy hike and it is accessible. Wind seems to always be a pain on the Mosquitoes though.


I've done Sherman in almost-winter (early April 2011) and summer conditions, and I've found that the snow route, or one similar to it, kept the worst of the wind off of you up to the summit. I don't know how do-able it'd be with the snow conditions present right now, but it might be worth a shot.
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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby nyker » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:06 pm

Does your friend have some experience in being out in the cold all day at altitude?

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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby Scott P » Wed Dec 05, 2012 7:23 am

that has descent amount of wind blockage


I don't think that there are any. This time of year, it will almost always be windy on all 14ers, but every once in a while you can get lucky.

Other than what the others have said, I'd add to take good boots rather than two pairs of socks (which can cut off circulation and can cause blisters). As mentioned, make sure to bring something to keep your water from freezing.

Also, as mentioned, there is a snowstorm (which is supposed to be small) heading in. Right now it's a sure bet that much of the routes you mentioned are snow free, but a light layer of fresh unconsolidated snow over bare rock often makes climbing conditions more difficult than a good snowpack.
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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby Jim Davies » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:15 am

If the wind is from the west, the east ridge of Quandary can be kind of sheltered (until the summit, anyway). It also has good road access that will be plowed Friday, despite the two feet of snow we're getting tomorrow.
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Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby TravelingMatt » Wed Dec 05, 2012 8:08 pm

I did Bull Hill today. The south side of Elbert (Black Cloud Trail) was essentially completely dry. The winds were among the gentlest I've experienced in the past couple months, still 20-30 mph gusts but several calm stretches up high. Below about 12,200 I hiked down in a T-shirt.

There's snow coming, but the south faces on the Sawatch and west faces of the Mosquito are starting from zero snow, and any sun and/or wind will blow stuff away once it stops falling.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

Re: easy 14er for visitor on 12/7

Postby jswiftcervelo » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:23 am

As far as gear goes: Don"t take it for granted. Learned this one on Silverheels with Forbes_mtn...

With sunny conditions and little wind I had on a base layer only - INSTANTLY a ground blizzard happened with whiteout conditions - I had 3 layers on within a minute along with a hat hood, goggles and mitts. Wind was literally bad enough that hands were functional outside gloves for around 30 seconds. 0 visibility. Navigation purely by GPS for a while which was only possible because I used my ice axe (Dont for get that one) to push the buttons. Couldn't have even used the GPS without it :) But the big thing is that I was never cold once layered up. I could have bivied by just sitting down with that many layers. I have carried those layers up at least 10 mountains without ever using them until I used them all for an hour.

That's how fast things can happen - unlikely but it happened. In the winter, I'd personally never go without that layering system ever again.

So I'll only say be prepared for that scenario and you'll be good.

Footwear: I do like the double wool sock personally but that's subjective. Yes on the waterproof boots and gaiters.

For water bottles I have done 1 wierd thing that worked on a long one - the hand/foot warmers :)
Winter only :) Cycling only March-late October... Mountaineering = awesome cross-training

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