Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

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Yovo
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Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by Yovo » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:45 pm

I have a sabbatical this summer and am planning on spending about two months (early June to early August) traveling around, hiking, and climbing in Colorado with my family. I did a number of 14ers in the 90s and early 2000s but haven't done a lot of climbing or spent a lot of time in CO since then.

What I am wondering is, if you had June and July to work your way around the various ranges in CO, camping and focusing on both day hikes and some 13er and 14er climbs, how would you do it? Where would you start? What kind of circuit would you do?

I know snowpack can vary from year to year, but didn't know if, for example, it might make sense to spend the first couple weeks in the San Juans in early June (I have never been to the San Juans, do they tend to have less snow in early June?) before then moving over to the Sangre de Cristos, and then maybe up to the Sawatch range. In addition to factoring in snowpack, didn't know if there was any advantage in terms of crowds or insects in where to start and how to map out a circuit.

Appreciate any thoughts/advice on this and even just how you might spend the 2 months.

Also, any thoughts on whether it would be worth trading in a mini-van for something with 4 wheel drive for the two months in the mountains?

Thanks.
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Scott P
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by Scott P » Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:57 pm

Usually the San Juan's are one of the snowiest ranges in the state, but during La Niña, usually the northern mountains.

If you want less snow, the Southern Sawatch, Sangres, and Mosquitoes usually get the least of the high ranges.

If the 14ers, the San Juans, Elks, and Longs are the last to melt out.
Any thoughts on whether it would be worth trading in a mini-van for something with 4 wheel drive for the two months in the mountains?
It depends on what you mean by "worth it". How much money do you have and want to spend (you can answer this for yourself).

4wd can help for some trailheads, but all 14ers can be done with a 2wd and a little extra walking.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.
Yovo
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by Yovo » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:05 pm

Thanks Scott, appreciate the reply, this is all helpful.
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by quackquackcolorado » Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:39 pm

You'll likely hit a good amount of snow in early June in the San Juans and most other ranges if you go high. In a normal year, I would start the second half of June in the Sangre de Cristos. Probably the Sawatch next in late June then everywhere else in July. I would definitely recommend saving the San Juans for prime season from mid July to early August when everything is green.
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by greenonion » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:07 pm

quackquackcolorado wrote:
Mon Dec 14, 2020 7:39 pm
You'll likely hit a good amount of snow in early June in the San Juans and most other ranges if you go high. In a normal year, I would start the second half of June in the Sangre de Cristos. Probably the Sawatch next in late June then everywhere else in July. I would definitely recommend saving the San Juans for prime season from mid July to early August when everything is green.
+1
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by nyker » Mon Dec 14, 2020 8:15 pm

Yovo wrote:
Mon Dec 14, 2020 6:45 pm
I have a sabbatical this summer and am planning on spending about two months (early June to early August) traveling around, hiking, and climbing in Colorado with my family. I did a number of 14ers in the 90s and early 2000s but haven't done a lot of climbing or spent a lot of time in CO since then.

What I am wondering is, if you had June and July to work your way around the various ranges in CO, camping and focusing on both day hikes and some 13er and 14er climbs, how would you do it? Where would you start? What kind of circuit would you do?

I know snowpack can vary from year to year, but didn't know if, for example, it might make sense to spend the first couple weeks in the San Juans in early June (I have never been to the San Juans, do they tend to have less snow in early June?) before then moving over to the Sangre de Cristos, and then maybe up to the Sawatch range. In addition to factoring in snowpack, didn't know if there was any advantage in terms of crowds or insects in where to start and how to map out a circuit.

Appreciate any thoughts/advice on this and even just how you might spend the 2 months.

Also, any thoughts on whether it would be worth trading in a mini-van for something with 4 wheel drive for the two months in the mountains?

Thanks.

Also depends on what specific peaks you are targeting, if any. For example, Little Bear is safest done in Spring snow (i.e. early June in your above timeslots), but that assumes its a "good" snow year, you want to climb in the snow and that peak is on any list you might have.
I won't go into any peaks to target since with 2 months of time, the world is your oyster, and you can hit dozens.

For logistics, you might want to look in to a rental place or two, somewhere in the middle of your planned climbs or mix in camping, subject to your budget, interest and family interest in camping/motel etc. If I had two months free to climb, I'd probably get two rental places, a month each one further north and one further south. I'd bring all my camping gear and then selectively set my tent up for an overnighter on longer routes (>20mi or >+6,000ft gain days to stay fresh).

Regarding trading in a minivan for a 4wd, as Scott mentioned, depends on what you consider "worth it" The used vehicle market is through the roof right now, especially for a lot of SUVs/4x4s and RVs and availability for some models is thin. Maybe that will change in summer as the vaccine potentially returns some normalcy to life and people might start returning to urban areas, giving up their newly purchased cars...or maybe not. Do you need a 4x4 to do the climbs you want? No. Would a 4x4 make getting to upper trailheads easier and possibly enable you to climb more peaks from higher starting points? Yes (assuming roads are not in "winter" conditions in say, early June. FWIW, every peak I've done I did in a 2wd rental car without a 4x4, starting at the lower trailheads.
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by stephakett » Tue Dec 15, 2020 10:36 am

best advice: avoid 14ers on weekends.

your best move is to start in the sangres, move to the sawatch from south to north, and come back down to finish with at least 2-3 weeks in the SJs in that late july to early august slot.
i agree with nyker- the 4x4 market in colorado is tough and it's not going to be worthwhile to buy anything reliable. considering you're on sabbatical (and assumedly not in a rush) the extra miles from 2WD access should be no problem. HOWEVER. if you have the coin, a day trip with a UTV around the alpine loop is pretty awesome way to finish out your trip.

if you're feeling touristy, you might consider a hike or drive through one of our awesome national parks like mesa verde (worth the $7 tour) or the black canyon. also in july, the medano creek flows through the sand dunes, which is pretty cool, but you need to make reservations at that campground pretty early if you want to stay there.

other random anecdotes- hit a hot springs, have some green chili, and please pack out your trash :)
“My father considered a walk among the mountains as the equivalent of churchgoing.” (Aldous Huxley)
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by nmjameswilson » Tue Dec 15, 2020 11:44 am

I hit the San Juans the first week of July this year and had little issues with snow but of course it was a down snow year too.

I would probably hit the San Juans a bit later though like mid July as some places hold snow for a long time like MT Wilson by the SW Slopes route.

As far as 4x4 you can do a lot of climbing without it but it is a lot easier having one for say something like Crestone Needle via South Colony.
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by SchralpTheGnar » Tue Dec 15, 2020 1:46 pm

If I had two months to hike in Colorado, I'd go to the Tetons.
Yovo
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by Yovo » Tue Dec 15, 2020 5:29 pm

Thank you all! This is really helpful. The posts have my now planning to put the San Juans at the end rather than the beginning, that seems pretty clear to everyone and something I hadn't thought to do. I'll likely start with the the southern sawatch, which is the area I am most familar with from 20 years ago and might be a good place to start.

Also got thinking about some new options, like getting a rental and made me realize (and glad) that not having 4 x 4 and but having plenty of time, I'll be fine there.

As far as the Tetons, I actually got the chance to spend 2 months there back 20 years ago so I am good there! They were amazing, esp. the Teton Crest Trail. And yes, planning on hitting the national parks.

Thanks again! Would be glad to hear any other advice any one else has on what to be sure and do.
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Re: Looking for advice on how to move through the different ranges, june to august

Post by JQDivide » Tue Dec 15, 2020 5:42 pm

Suggest making tentative plans based on the advise provided.
But keep you trip flexible if possible and watch this site for late May, early June "Condition Reports" https://www.14ers.com/php14ers/peakstatus_main.php that might help you narrow down that first week or two. Those early summer conditions can change quickly based on late snow, warm temps and sunny days.

Keep an eye on May/June weather too.

As far as 4x4... you can always hitch a ride from the 2x2 THs, plenty of friendly people out there hiking.

If you're camping most of this time, you'll have the flexibility to travel back and forth between ranges to get the best conditions.
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