Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

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Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by akmcclain » Sat Sep 12, 2020 9:49 pm

My wife and I are planning a much needed Colorado vacation. We are going to spend the first part in Colorado springs hitting some good kid friendly spots (manitou incline, pikes peak (driving), cheyenne zoo, 7 falls & helen hunt falls, garden of the gods, may be air force academy). We were then planning to head west for a few more days in the mountains, and decided we wanted to summit a 14er with the kiddos. Our kids are very outdoorsy and love to hike. Based on what I've been reading on here, and some brief googling, I think we are between Mt Sherman and Quandary peak as good first 14ers with kids. My biggest concern is the timing, because I have no idea what to expect in mid-October weather wise - I know we will have to plan for cold.. should we assume plan for snow? We will be bringing kid-carriers, as I don't expect them to be able to do the entire summit. We are very much aware we may get half way up and decide it was a terrible idea and head back down. We'd love to summit, but know that may not be realistic.

So I guess a few questions on my end - Sherman vs. Quandary? If we did Sherman, will we be able to get to the 12k gate in mid-October? I've read everywhere start early.. what are some recommended times - 5am? 6am? Should we ditch the 14er and find a 13er?

Thanks for your inputs!
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by ellenmseb » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:27 pm

I vote for quandary and re-evaluate snow conditions during your trip. Scenic area and Kids will love the goats.
Do plan for snow, wear snow pants, ski clothes, microspikes etc
But go as long as possible after the latest snowfall and ideally on a warmer and less windy day.
Not necessary to start at 5am outside of monsoon season (summer). Might as well start mid-morning for warmer temps. Wind may pick up in the afternoon though.
Quandary is near Breck where you can also check out McCullough gulch, blue lakes, Loveland pass on your way, Dillon reservoir, maybe Breck will let you ride the lift etc..
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by Mtnman200 » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:35 pm

Expect cold temperatures, plenty of wind above treeline, and at least some snow in mid-October. With kids that young, I hope you’re prepared to carry both of them. I think you’d be a lot better off taking them on a hike instead of trying a 14er.
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by DArcyS » Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:42 pm

Mtnman200 wrote:
Sat Sep 12, 2020 10:35 pm
I think you’d be a lot better off taking them on a hike instead of trying a 14er.

Things can get kind of serious in October: ... t-on-14er/
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by Alpine Guy » Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:25 pm

There's an annual Winter Welcomer hike on Quandary around late Oct early Nov. Below pic is from Oct 28 2017. As others have noted, keep a close eye on the weather and carefully consider your plans.
20171028-3788-Quandary.jpg (99.42 KiB) Viewed 811 times
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by teamdonkey » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:06 am

I have lots of thoughts here.

- as others have said, weather in October can be bad. It's possible you'll have nice fall conditions, but not likely
- carrying kids that age up a 14k mountain is very physically taxing under ideal conditions. Again, in October you won't have ideal conditions
- moving up the mountain you generate a lot of heat, which reduces the amount of clothing you need. A kid on your back doesn't have that advantage and therefore needs a lot more clothing. I've turned around on a 13er before because my kid was miserable even though she was bundled up. Cold and wind sucks when you're not moving.
- please consider how much weight you'll be carrying. Your regular gear, extra winter clothing, food and water for two people, a 40 pound human, extra EXTRA winter clothing for the kid, etc etc

I can't recommend against this strongly enough. It's not physically impossible, but all 4 of you will almost certainly be miserable. Do something fun instead. It's you're vacation after all.
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by JaredJohnson » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:45 am

I also recommend against this but if you're dead set on it I might suggest pikes peak via barr trail

- close to CO springs
- the trail starts lower and less exposed
- plan a stay at barr camp which is an awesome objective by itself, and more comfortable with a wood burning stove and hot meals
- the caretakers might succeed in convincing you not to go further or help you know what conditions to expect. They could help you plan an alternative adventure from the camp such as an overnight at a-frame, and it's a fun place to spend a day or three if you decide on no adventure
- if something goes sideways summit day because it was a bad idea, you'll be missed and looked for sooner

The hike to Barr Camp is no joke but the lower elevation makes it less potentially deadly. Start early and still plan to turn around if it's a beat down. Make reservations. If you do decide to summit, there will be no services whatsoever at the top in October so don't hope for any sort of way to bail out from the summit in spite of the existence of a road
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by Scott P » Sun Sep 13, 2020 6:55 am

Sometimes you can have summer conditions on the 14ers and sometimes not.

At age 4 my son climbed Huron in October. There was a bit of snow around, but it was a nice fall day. That said though, he walked the whole way on his own and was not carried. I would not take and kid who would be expected to be carried. I'd suggest waiting until your kids can do it on their own before going, especially if you are going to be walking on icy/snowy rocks.

There are plenty of lower elevation hikes and climbs that would be better.
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by bluegrassclimber » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:44 pm

Agree with other comments. If your kiddos are small enough to fit in kid carriers, but big enough to hike a few miles, you will not want to haul them up or down Quandary or even a 13er on most October days.

If Pikes Peak Highway isn’t closed before Devils Playground, you could hike a good portion of Crags Trail. I’d personally look for lower elevation, less aggressive hikes. But if you are set on summits, here are other options:

- Almagre Mtn (12k) from the SW
- Chief Mountain (10.7k) near Idaho Springs; great views
- Sniktau or Cupid (13ers) from Loveland Pass. Likely to be wind blown if there is snow. And shorter than Quandary with a ridge about 1mile into the hike. So you could assess if you need to turn back but still get a great view.
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by 9patrickmurphy » Sun Sep 13, 2020 12:49 pm

I'd second bluegrass's reccomendation for Grizzly or Sniktau from Loveland Pass. It's high-altitude, not easy, but always windblown and worst case scenario it's just cold. Much less commitment. From your description of what you want and what your situation is, that's a much better idea than a 14er. This is, of course, if there is snow. If there isn't, just go for it. But don't count on that...

I for one pray snow doesn't fall an inch until November, at which point I want big dumps constantly. Give me a good hiking season and then a good snow season, no overlap!
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by askwjs » Sun Sep 13, 2020 1:00 pm

Quandary is for less exposed but the final pitch goes on forever for kids that small. If there is snow, below and just above treeline present a challenge at the beginning and you still have that final pitch to worry about. It would be a long day with 2 that young. It was tough for my son the 1st time he did it at 12 and it was dry. But of the 2, this would be the less sketchy. Just watch the weather and don't be afraid to turn around
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Re: Advice for 14er in mid-October with kids (4 and 6)

Post by rpdawes » Sun Sep 13, 2020 2:19 pm

If you are flatlanders, you will need a few days to get acclimated to the high altitude. According to the snow history in the past decade for Quandary Peak, mid-October snowfall is 50% chance, but the accumulation should less than 6 inches.

Please view the last linked website. ... &js=1&uc=0
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