Mt. Elbert for first time 14er?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Mt. Elbert for first time 14er?

Postby pw » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:41 pm

Also my first fourteener, many years ago. I remember being very tired and the false summits being kind of annoying. Anyway, fine for a first fourteener, easy to follow trail and you can't fall off the mountain anywhere along the way. If you've got the time, do an easier hike a day or two ahead of time - Mohawk Lakes would be a good one, that will get the legs ready for a longer hike.
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Re: Mt. Elbert for first time 14er?

Postby shaberer0511 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 8:04 am

Elbert for a first timer is can be brutal climb. I took my sister and brother up that one and they did not enjoy it. This hike does have a nice trail and is easy to follow, but it is long and steep. 4,700 feet of elevation gain is a lot. Granted I am not in the best shape but I think it would be a very tough hike for a first timer because of the length and elevation gain.I had done a couple different mountains before I did it, but it was still tough. I think a better 14er for a first timer would be Democrat, Lincoln, Bross, or Sherman. Those are shorter, and they do not have a lot of elevation gain, at around 2,500 feet each. I hope this helps, and good luck.
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Re: Mt. Elbert for first time 14er?

Postby peter303 » Fri Mar 30, 2012 9:28 am

scalba123 wrote:I've definitely descended down the wrong trail. I spent an hour picking my back to the correct trail above the treeline (and cursing my existence the entire time). ](*,)

The specific problem is there are two ridge trails on the popular west side. They appear similar from the top looking down. When I descended the wrong one once I caught my error by noticing there were a lot more people on the other ridge, the main Halfmoon trail. I was able to cut across the tundra then, only losing a half mile. If you descend all the way to the base the wrong way, then its miles to close the route.

And you cant always depend on seeing the ridges if the clouds roll in (fog, rain, snow). Besides recording navigation with either map-compass or GPS, you should also take some key visual lookbacks periodically. I am especially careful to do this at treeline emergence and any false summits.
Another factor is the lighting changes considerably during the course of the day. The forest and trail might look one way in early morning sun but substantially different during high sky noon sun.
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Re: Mt. Elbert for first time 14er?

Postby ChrisinAZ » Fri Mar 30, 2012 6:58 pm

Elbert was my first as well, at least in Colorado. I'd been in Denver all of a day and a half, and was running on no sleep--I made it, but didn't set any speed records! The NE ridge is a good route in terms of trailhead access and ease of following the route, but it *is* a fairly steep haul once above treeline, from what I remember. Just be prepared for it to take a while--which goes back to that starting-early recommendation many others have made.

About the only thing I'd add is that, aside from being a physically strenuous haul (even on a class 1 trail, 4700' vertical is still a solid day!), Elbert is fairly mundane--I was actually kind of underwhelmed on the climb, and have since discovered that almost any and all other 14ers I've climbed have made for more interesting fare. If you want to climb the highest in the state and have a relatively safe bet, go with Elbert; if you want something more memorable, there are plenty of class 2 or even class 3 peaks out there that'd make for a great experience too.
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