Best Guide books for Colorado

Colorado 14er peak questions, condition requests and other info. 14er Trip Reports, Condition Reports
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Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby hotoven » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:08 am

I know I’m new to the site, and I hate to ask something that may have already been asked in the past, but I could not find this information through my searching.

I’m moving to Dillon in a few weeks and once I get settled in, I would love to start climbing and hiking. Now most of the information on hiking and routes can be found on this website, or other similar ones. For climbing though, there is not a great web resource that is as good as a book. is good, but I still like a good book. Are there any recommendations on a few solid books I should buy to start me off on my adventures before I get to know all the spots? I can see myself collecting every book about the area in the future; I just need a few titles to keep me entertained until I become more familiar with the area.

Thanks for your help in advance. I know some books I will only be able to buy at the local shops, so I’ll be on the hunt once I get out there.


I guess I should add, I would like to climb most if not all the 14ers, and many others peaks, but the standard hiking routes are not preferred. I like to scramble up gully's, travel on snow fields, and even some trad and roped travel if necessary. Hopefully this will help in narrowing down the best books that would suit my preferences.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby TravelingMatt » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:33 am

Summit Cove is not Dillon!

Anyway, the holy trinity of Colorado mountain climbing books are Roach's 14ers, Roach's 13ers and Cooper's Colorado Scrambles. Beyond that, everything within an hour's drive is either a walkup where the route is pretty obvious, or where the whole point is figure it out yourself (ie, the Gore Range).

Summitpost is quite good, but don't expect it to walk you through every step of the way. For maps I recommend the Latitude 40 map of Summit County. The Trails Illustrated maps are good for most of the rest of the state, but the Lat 40 covers exactly the right area and conveys better local info.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby kaiman » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:02 pm

Fletch wrote:Hotoven, welcome to Colorado.

If you are looking for good guidebooks, I've found the following very useful:

14ers - Roach
13ers - Roach
LCW - Roach
Colorado Snow Climbs - Cooper
Hiking Colorados Summits - Covill/Mitchler
Serious Play - Dieckhoff

I would also add Cooper's Colorado Scrambles to Fletch's excellent list, assuming you are looking for mountaineering books. If you are looking for hiking books for the whole state the list can get quite exhaustive, but here are a few of my favorites:

Hiking Colorado's Weminuche and South San Juan Wilderness Areas - Ikenberry
Hiking Colorado's Sangre de Christo Wilderness - Moore
Aspen and Central Colorado Trails: A Hiking Guide/Aspen Snowmass Trails: A Hiking Guide - Ohlrich
Colorado's Canyon Country - Pearson
Colorado's Lake Hikes - Muller
Colorado Tenth Mountain Huts and Trails - Dawson

Happy Trails!

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"I haven't climbed Everest, skied to the poles, or sailed single-handed around the world. The goals I set out to accomplish aren't easily measured or quantified by world records or "firsts." The reasons I climb, and the climbs I do, are about more than distance or altitude, they are about breaking barriers within myself."

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby hotoven » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:19 pm

Thanks for the help so far guys. And yes, I enjoy hiking, but I prefer scrambling. Its easy to find hiking books, I would just like the locals point of view before I start buying the wrong ones!

And Matt, my condo is on Summit Drive, so the address is Dillon, but its only a few hundred yards from Summit Cove from what I can tell from google maps. Sorry for being unclear about that. So does that make me someone from Dillon, or Summit Cove? (Well I guess I'll be someone from PA until I'm a tenured Colorado citizen)

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby TravelingMatt » Tue Mar 05, 2013 12:47 pm

I think anything 80435 has to be either Dillon or Keystone on mail, regardless of whether it's inside the Dillon town limits. If you're like most of the county, though, you have to use a PO box. You're fine, I'm just being protective of my territory, and it's not as bad as people who pretend the Dillon Valley favelas are in Dillon. (They're in Silverthorne.)

As for scrambling, you're gonna really like the Gore Range, and there's a fair amount of material in the Tensquito and even northern Sawatch.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby jdorje » Tue Mar 05, 2013 1:08 pm

The best source for beta on unusual scrambles is trip reports. Hosted here, at Summitpost, through LoJ, or at a number of other sites, they often link together.

That and finding some good climbing partners.
-Jason Dorje Short

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby Svenski Norski » Tue Mar 05, 2013 3:30 pm

"Guide to the Colorado Mountains" published by CMC, a.k.a. "Ormes Guide" is helpful for area overviews, approaches, and info on where peaks and ranges are, regardless of elevation.
I like to use it in conjunction with the other books folks have mentioned. It can be dated at times, but there's a lot of timeless beta.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby seth0687 » Tue Mar 05, 2013 4:02 pm

I can't believe no one has recommended yet....summitpost, really?

Seriously, if you are looking for rock/ice/bouldering you will want to bookmark as your go to resource. MP is to technical climbing as is to hiking CO's 14ers. Beyond that if you are looking for ice you will want both of Jack Roberts books, "Colorado Ice". If you plan on doing anything in Rocky Mountain National Park you will want the high peaks book and the estes park valley book. Check out Sharp End Publishing, they pretty much have a guide book for every area in CO worth climbing in: i.e. Eldo, Bocan, Clear Creek, St. Vrain, Shelf, etc....

My vote....use for all your technical guide book needs and take all that money you were going to spend on guide books and buy gear and beer lol.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby Kent McLemore » Tue Mar 05, 2013 8:02 pm

In addition to Ormes, Roach, Dawson and Cooper, Dwight Lavender and Carleton Long contributed mightily to the legacy Colorado of Colorado climbing guidebooks. The American Alpine Club Library in Golden has a fine collection of in and out-of-print guidebooks.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby BlueKhan » Tue Mar 05, 2013 10:24 pm

seth0687 wrote:I can't believe no one has recommended yet....summitpost, really?

+1, Roach, and the app is just about all I need.

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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby Matt Lemke » Tue Mar 05, 2013 11:04 pm

Mountainproject actually does a poor job describing alpine matter how technical they may be. It is mainly a cragging site at which it is a fantastic resource. Summitpost isn't that great for alpine technical climbing either but it is slightly better in the sense that it has WAY more photos to look at for beta.
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Re: Best Guide books for Colorado

Postby susanjoypaul » Wed Mar 06, 2013 6:37 am

Well, I have to put in a plug for my good friend Stewart Green, who's also a member here. Stewart's been climbing in Colorado since the 60s, and has dozens of guidebooks to his credit. His latest Colorado climbing book has over 1,800 technical routes.

He's also the site administrator for the Climbing site at, where he's written gobs of material about climbing around the world. When he's not climbing for fun, he's guiding climbing trips, or writing about climbing. Lots of weekend warriors out there (guilty!) but Stewart really eats, sleeps, and... you know... this stuff :-)


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