14ers FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

Quandary Peak

What is a 14er?

A 14er or "Fourteener" is a mountain that exceeds 14,000 feet of elevation. Colorado has 58 named 14ers, collectively known as the Colorado 14ers. That's the most of any state in the United States! California has 12, Washington has 2 and that includes Mt. Rainier. Then there's Alaska, which has Denali at 20,310 feet and nearly another 30 peaks/points above 14,000 feet. Read More...

What is 14ers.com?

14ers.com is the premier source of information on Colorado 14ers and our mission is to provide useful information without advertisements or membership fees. Open and free. It's a comprehensive collection of information, with massive amounts of content provided by it's members so we have everything you need to plan climbs and track your progress as you work your way through the 14ers. We hope 14ers.com will help you safely gain your next summit and make some friends along the way. 14ers.com is not a personal blog like you've probably seen when searching on Google — clogged with annoying advertisements, trying to profit from the popularity of the 14ers.

Is Climbing 14ers Dangerous?

Yes. Many people have died on these peaks. Weather, terrain, and other people can put you in a situation where your knowledge and experience will be vital. We urge you to pick up a book on mountaineering safety and make sure your basic navigation skills (map+compass, not only GPS) are up-to-par so you can rely on them in a tough situation. Altitude sickness, dehydration, and fast-building storms are the most common problems but there are also route risk factors that vary by peak. So, do your homework, pack accordingly, pick the right day and partners and know when to turn around if things get ugly. Be safe out there!

How do I get started climbing 14ers?

You've come to the right place. 14ers.com has all of the necessary information for both new and experienced climbers. Check out the Mountaineering Safety page and Climbing 14ers: Getting Started pages. Then, you'll need to get the necessary hiking gear, find a partner or two, and get out on the trail.

What gear do I need to climb a 14er?

It's critical that you bring the correct gear, clothing and supplies along with you when climbing 14ers. Even on the easiest peaks.

Getting Started: Gear and Preparation
Printable Gear List

How do I get in shape for a 14er?

Climbing a 14er requires a combination of cardiovascular endurance, leg strength, and proper conditioning. To increase your chance of reaching the summit you'll need to train your body ahead of time. Even if you consider yourself to be in good physical shape, you might still need training in preparation for the difficulties of hiking in high elevation. Do more research and hatch a training plan for at least the 6 months prior to your hike. Detailed 14er training articles/plans on other sites:  REI, Backpacker's Pantry, Miss Adventure Pants

How long does it take to acclimate for a 14er?

If you're visiting Colorado from a lower elevation, you'll definitely want to give your body a couple of days to adjust to the thinner air before you climb. If you can, stay in an town higher than Denver where it won't take long for you to find out how your body deals with the high elevation even before you get out on the trail. Avoid alcohol, excessive caffeine and drink plenty of water. Before heading to your 14er, take a couple of short hikes to see how your body reacts. The high elevation affects everyone differently so don't be surprised if you need 3-5 days of acclimitization before you can attempt a 14er.

What is altitude sickness?

Altitude sickness is common for people coming to Colorado from a low elevation and symptoms might include headaches, poor appetite, breathlessness or fatigue. Severe altitude sickness is a life-threatening condition, cannot be ignored, and will force you to return to a lower elevation. It comes in two forms: 1) High altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE) is a progression of the breathlessness feeling, even at rest. It is caused by a dilation of blood vessels in the lungs to allow more oxygen to flow. If the blood vessels leak, fluid can fill the lungs and could potentially cause heart failure. 2) High altitude cerebral edema (HACE) is a progression of headache symptoms caused by dilation of the blood vessels in the brain. If it persists, the blood vessels can leak, causing the brain to swell and potentially leading to a coma.

What does the difficulty rating mean for a route?

Climbing routes have been assigned a difficulty rating using the Yosemite Decimal System (YDS), which has been in use in the United States for over 75 years. Ratings from Class 1 (easiest) to Class 5 (most difficult) give you a basic understanding of the difficulty of the type of hiking/climbing you'll encounter but to get a better idea of the overall effort required, you'll also need to factor in the amount of elevation gain and distance.

What are the easiest 14ers?

The easiest 14ers are ones with a trail most or all of the way to the summit and are fairly short in distance, compared to others. The 5 easiest 14ers in Colorado are Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, Quandary Peak, Mount Bierstadt and Handies Peak. To dig a bit deeper, visit these pages:
14ers Grouped by Difficulty
14ers Grouped by Risk Factors
Route Selection Tool

What is the hardest 14er?

Capitol Peak

Capitol Peak. The standard, "Knife Edge" route on Capitol is long, exposed and should only be attempted after you have a lot of experience and you're prepared for Class 4 terrain. Little Bear Peak is a close 2nd and it's standard route up the "Hourglass" is dangerous due to rockfall.

How long does it take to climb a 14er?

Several factors determine the time it will take for you to get to a summit and back, including 1) Length of the route, 2) Elevation gained, 3) Difficulty of the route terrain, and 4) Your individual pace and physical conditioning. A short 14er hike with a trail to the summit may only take 4-6 hours if you're in good shape but then there 14er routes that take much longer. Check out the User Climb Times page for individual times posted by 14ers.com members.

Do I need a guide to climb a 14er?

For most Colorado 14ers you don't need a guide but you should defitely go with experienced partners. If you progress to the most difficult 14ers and don't have an experienced partner, a certified guide is the way to go:
Aspen Area: Aspen Expeditions, Aspen Alpine Guides
San Juan Mountains: San Juan Mountain Guides

Which 14ers are most crowded, least crowded?

Let's face it, climbing 14ers is popular! In summer, many of the easier 14ers will be crowded and the closer you are to Denver, the more people you will encounter. The busiest 14ers are Mt. Bierstadt, Grays Peak, Torreys Peak, Longs Peak, Mount Elbert and Quandary Peak (Since 2022, Quandary requires a summer parking permit so numbers have dropped dramatically). In winter, the only peak you might see a small crowd on is Quandary Peak, because it's close to a paved road and the route is fairly safe for snow travel. For a simple view of 14er popularity and potential for crowds, check out the Peak Usage page. For more detailed peak usage information, visit the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative's 14er Hiking Use Estimates.

Can my vehicle make it to the trailhead?

Maybe. Different trailheads have different types of roads - from paved to rough dirt roads that can only be driven with a 4-Wheel Drive vehicle. Find your trailhead and read the details as well as the status updates posted by 14ers.com members. You can also view trailheads By road difficulty.

Where can I get weather forecasts for the 14ers?

Weather by Peak: 14ers.com Weather Page
Avalanche Danger: Colorado Avalanche Info Center (CAIC)
CO Paved Road Conditions and Cameras: Colorado Dept. of Transportation (CDOT)

How hard are 14ers in the winter?

The beauty of the snow-capped mountains and reward of a successful winter summit are unbeatable but it requires the use of specific equipment, a keen sense of route finding and a whole lot of determination. Your mountaineering skills and endurance will be challenged on every snowy hike. Several of the easier winter 14er routes avoid avalanche terrain, but not all, so taking an avalanche course is a great way to prepare for winter hikes. Avalanche knowledge is a must when you leave the beginner peaks and start planning more trips for moderate and harder 14ers.

Instructional Guide: Winter 14ers for Beginners

Can I bring my dog up a 14er?

You need to determine how you will handle the altitude and difficulties of a 14er before adding the extra challenge of bringing a dog. What if your dog chases a goat off-route, into dangerous terrain? Or gets lost or injured? Or bites a fellow hiker? You don't need these possibilities when you're both new to the peaks. After you're more experienced and think your dog is up to the challenge, start with an easy 14er trail. Always on leash, of course, and remember that LNT also applies to our pets. The fragile alpine environment is no place to let our pets roam free. Also, there's an entire sub-forum on this topic

Is there a 14er Mobile App?

Yes! Get the 14ers.com mobile app on iOS or Android so you'll have the full 14er route descriptions out on the trail.

What is the Colorado Fourteeners Initiative (CFI)?

The impact of 14er climbing adds up so trails need frequent maintainence and adjustments to keep up. The Colorado Fourteeners Initiative does this work. CFI is a Colorado, 501(c)3 Non-Profit that relies on individual donations.

What is Leave No Trace (LNT)?

Leave No Trace is a 501(c)(3) non-profit with a mission providing education, skills, research and science to help people care for the outdoors. By working with the public and those managing public lands, Leave No Trace focuses on educating people on land protection. Following the Leave No Trace: The 7 Principles will help us protect the fragile high alpine environment we encounter on the 14ers.

Can I drive up a 14er?

Pikes Peak and Mount Evans have paved roads to the top. The Pikes Peak Highway is open year round based on the daily weather conditions and the Mount Evans Scenic Byway is open June-August. Both require a fee and you must reserve a pass for Mount Evans ahead of time.

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