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Which 14er do you fear the most?

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby wildlobo71 » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:59 am

hansolo35 wrote:Funny how subjective this thread is. To my surprise, snow mass keeps in getting mentions here. Snowmass for me was one of my most enjoyable climbs, with no expectant fear going into it or actual fear whilst in the peak. Climbing g the 'snowmass' was sweeeet! As for me, starlight peak in the Sierra is the ONE!


Snowmass was also really fun for me - it was my first real Class 3 climb, first real climb in snow with crampons, first time I ever had to throw my ice axe into a rock slot connected to two six-foot slings in order to pull myself up to the ridge to get past the bergshrunding top (I think that's the only time I ever will, too.) I love the hike to the lake, the logjam, everything was fun about it.

That weekend I was up there in 2010, I was honoring one of our 14ers.com climbers who died earlier that year on Little Bear (Kevin Hayne); soon after two brothers were injured in rockfall on Snowmass (I believe they were brothers.) In 2011 Sean Wylam died in rockfall, and of course Rob Jansen died last year over on the connecting ridge to Hagerman after summiting the mountain. I was shaken by all three, Rob's especially. Looking at pictures I'd taken from the ridge I gained, with the nasty slabs of rock perilously balanced and wedged together, it's so easy to see that area being very unstable and quite dangerous. However, at the time I was up there, I felt nothing but joy at the accomplishment. It's weird, I would rank it as one of my favorites, also one I have extreme respect for - and one I don't look forward to repeating - strictly because of the emotional toll it's taken on me and my friends.
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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby ChrisinAZ » Sat Mar 30, 2013 12:55 pm

For me at least, the only part that really had me freaked out was upon gaining the ridge for the last 0.2 miles to the summit--essentially, where many of the fatalities have occurred. The trail in was long, but otherwise easy and gorgeous, the lake was spectacular, the willows not too much of a pain, and the scree slopes above the lake weren't that bad. The snowmass was actually mostly melted out when I was there, but with the snow experience I have now, it would no longer freak me out. I do recall one 500-pound boulder we managed to send sliding at one spot very low on the snowmass boulderfield, but that was more attributable to poor route-finding than anything.

We'll see how I feel upon returning. I remember being pretty freaked out by the Narrows and Homestretch on Longs the first time I climbed it 2 1/2 years ago, but after getting most of the other 14ers under my belt, both felt like an absolute breeze this past summer. That said, Longs is solid, solid rock...

wildlobo71 wrote:Snowmass was also really fun for me - it was my first real Class 3 climb, first real climb in snow with crampons, first time I ever had to throw my ice axe into a rock slot connected to two six-foot slings in order to pull myself up to the ridge to get past the bergshrunding top (I think that's the only time I ever will, too.) I love the hike to the lake, the logjam, everything was fun about it.
"If trees could scream, would we be so cavalier about cutting them down? We might, if they screamed all the time, for no good reason."
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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby jaymz » Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:13 pm

For a long time it was Capitol for me. I've still yet to do it, but I've gotten a little more confident that I can handle at least the knife edge. Now I'd say I'm most nervous about LB and the Bells, just from reading TRs and hearing about the accidents/fatalities on those peaks, victims often being seasoned mountaineers. In contrast, I haven't read about nearly as many people falling off of Capitol.
What I'm most skiddish about, though, are the traverses. Especially LB/Blanca and the Bells.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Hungry Jack » Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:22 am

My wife. She is only 14, but she can get angry and mete out verbal spitfire like a 55 year old battle axe if I don't toe the line.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby screeman57 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:33 am

Hungry Jack wins :bow:
"Never measure the height of a mountain until you have reached the top. Then you will see how low it was." -Dag Hammarskjold

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Tornadoman » Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:03 pm

Hungry Jack wrote:My wife. She is only 14, but she can get angry and mete out verbal spitfire like a 55 year old battle axe if I don't toe the line.


Your wife is only 14?!?! I don't know what to say....

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby wildlobo71 » Sun Mar 31, 2013 5:21 pm

Leap year gents... She was a leap year baby and let's just leave it there.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Michael J » Sun Mar 31, 2013 8:03 pm

jaymz wrote:For a long time it was Capitol for me. I've still yet to do it, but I've gotten a little more confident that I can handle at least the knife edge. Now I'd say I'm most nervous about LB and the Bells, just from reading TRs and hearing about the accidents/fatalities on those peaks, victims often being seasoned mountaineers. In contrast, I haven't read about nearly as many people falling off of Capitol.
What I'm most skiddish about, though, are the traverses. Especially LB/Blanca and the Bells.


There have been surprisingly few accidents/deaths on Capitol. IMHO it is because it is much less well known to the general public than peaks like the Bells or Longs. I think the sheer numbers of people that will attempt those peaks whether they are qualified or not adds to the danger. Accidents/deaths in the hourglass on Little Bear are because of the slick rock with few handholds, but also from rockfall from above. No matter which direction the rockfall comes from, it all funnels into the hourglass. As far as Capitol goes, I think the majority of people that attempt it make it an overnight trip. In addition, it seems to garner a little more respect and therefore gives people a little more pause before an attempt. None of the Class 3's and 4's should be taken lightly and I'm so glad that we have this website and the wealth of information it offers. Knowledge is power right?

"I've often heard a voice call down to me
If you'd climb higher you'd find wondrous things to see..."

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby GeezerClimber » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:08 pm

Michael J wrote:
jaymz wrote:For a long time it was Capitol for me. I've still yet to do it, but I've gotten a little more confident that I can handle at least the knife edge. Now I'd say I'm most nervous about LB and the Bells, just from reading TRs and hearing about the accidents/fatalities on those peaks, victims often being seasoned mountaineers. In contrast, I haven't read about nearly as many people falling off of Capitol.
What I'm most skiddish about, though, are the traverses. Especially LB/Blanca and the Bells.


There have been surprisingly few accidents/deaths on Capitol. IMHO it is because it is much less well known to the general public than peaks like the Bells or Longs. I think the sheer numbers of people that will attempt those peaks whether they are qualified or not adds to the danger. Accidents/deaths in the hourglass on Little Bear are because of the slick rock with few handholds, but also from rockfall from above. No matter which direction the rockfall comes from, it all funnels into the hourglass. As far as Capitol goes, I think the majority of people that attempt it make it an overnight trip. In addition, it seems to garner a little more respect and therefore gives people a little more pause before an attempt. None of the Class 3's and 4's should be taken lightly and I'm so glad that we have this website and the wealth of information it offers. Knowledge is power right?


I agree with your conjectures but I was wondering how many of LB's fatalities occur in the hourglass? I haven't read many particulars about LB accidents but I do know that some have occurred elsewhere on the mountain. Anyone care to elaborate? I'm also curious how many accidents happen in dry conditions? Loose rock can be a problem on Capitol. When we climbed it last summer, descending climbers warned us about people above knocking rock off. One guy had a near miss. We were lucky by being late and had the whole prism to ourselves up and down.

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby TallGrass » Sun Mar 31, 2013 10:53 pm

Michael J wrote:There have been surprisingly few accidents/deaths on Capitol. IMHO it is because it is much less well known to the general public than peaks like the Bells or Longs.
Bells/Pyramid have possibly the most accessible TH http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/trailheads5.php which I think is a big factor. What other TH has bus service? :wft: The trail up to the N.Mar fork was pretty crowded when our worker grouped packed out, having to 'pull off' to yield to uphill hikers several, several times. All the ones I encountered in the gulleys were just day-hiking, could not have had the 10Es, and weren't dressed much different than those you run into on the sidewalks of Aspen on a warm summer day. Capitol's logistical buffer puts it outside the casual day-tripping orbits.
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Michael J » Sun Mar 31, 2013 11:45 pm

@ GeezerClimber - I don't have any idea how many of the accidents on LB happen in the hourglass although I know that a good deal of them do. It's just one of those places that deserves the utmost care and preparation. I went with some friends on a weekday and didn't have to worry about rockfall through the hourglass as we knew there was nobody above us. In fact we had more trouble in the gulley coming up from Lake Como because of the loose gravel and rocks. When I climbed Capitol, a good friend of mine was my guide. He was 65 and no spring chicken but in great shape for his age. He had climbed Capitol 4 times before because he grew up in the farm and ranching valley below. On his second attempt in 1978 with a group of 4 people they experienced "ball lightning" near the summit and quickly retreated. [I've also heard it called "St. Elmo's fire" among other things.] As he was headed back towards the knife edge somebody above kicked loose a rock about 3 feet in diameter and it was headed right towards him. It bounced and shattered but he was still clipped in the side of the face by a piece about a foot in diameter. He stepped in a hole trying to get away and the impact of the rock threw him out of the hole and broke his ankle. The bones around his eye socket were broken and he could only see out of the remaining eye. His friends elected to go for help but keep in mind that these were the days before cell phones and SAR. One of the group ran all the way back to the nearest farm house and called the Pitkin County Sheriff who then called for a military helicopter out of Ft. Carson. They picked him up by Capitol Lake. Can you imagine crossing the knife edge and getting around K-2 all alone with his injuries? My personal opinion is that these 2 peaks are head and shoulders above the rest in difficulty and [dare I say it] pucker factor.

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If you'd climb higher you'd find wondrous things to see..."

Re: Which 14er do you fear the most?

Postby Bean » Mon Apr 01, 2013 4:57 am

I'm terrified of going back to Bross. Miners need to tear down the top couple hundred feet of that miserable gravel pile.
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