14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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FryFx
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14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by FryFx »

Hi,

New to 14ers, I'm planning a trip over labor day.
I live "up" in Los Alamos, NM (7320 ft) and solo hike/backpack every weekend, often above 11000 ft (did NM highest peak @ about 13160 ft too) so I feel like I'm used to a bit of altitude.
I'm a planner so I've read a lot about every aspect of the climb (trailhead and road conditions, routes, weather...)

I'd want to drive from NM on friday and hike on saturday but not sure where to begin.
I was thinking Decalibron but wouldn't want to start too hard especially with the possible crowded trails over labor day.

Now I have my eyes on Sunshine via Redcloud Peaks. Seems like a good first time experience (easy drive to the TH and long but steady climb).
But there might be "better" first 14er to climb?

Any feedback or tips would be much appreciated!
Thanks!
constipated_pete
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by constipated_pete »

You're close to the sangres, have you considered Humboldt Peak?
Ptglhs
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by Ptglhs »

If you're going on a weekend in the summer it will be crowded. The further away from the front range the less crowded it will be. Handies, Sunshine, Redcloud, Uncompaghre if your car will make it, etc are all good options. Humboldt in the Sangres is another. (Though that one is a bit of a longer day).

Don't over think this. You'll be fine.
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nyker
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by nyker »

Given that you are planning to drive up from Los Alamos, and want a "starter" peak, those two, Redcloud and Sunshine could be good choice as could San Luis
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shelly+
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by shelly+ »

Hey FryFx! I live in albuquerque and regularly drive up to do 14ers (drive, camp, hike, drive home). Redcloud/sunshine is a fantastic hike and the drive is reasonable from where you are. Good first trip. Best luck and have fun!
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glenmiz
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by glenmiz »

Ptglhs wrote: Thu Aug 26, 2021 11:55 am Don't over think this. You'll be fine.
This^

Redcloud/Sunshine (or Handies), Humboldt, San Luis are all mellow, south and away from the crowds. Only suggestion is make sure your vehicle matches the difficulty rating on the road. There are easier roads but they'll be closer to the crowds. Enjoy!
Aim high to end high
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huffy13
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by huffy13 »

Look at my peak checklist......with the exception of Mt. Lindsey, any of the peaks on my list would be good, especially if you've been on Wheeler Peak, NM. But I will say that Huron, Handies, Humboldt, or Yale are the ones that I thoroughly enjoyed from beginning to end.
Seems like the times that I need a mountain the most are the times that I can not get to them.
FryFx
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by FryFx »

Wow, thanks everyone!
I didn't think about Humboldt, but it looks really cool!
I believe my Crosstrek should be capable of going all the way to the trailhead.
I'll try not to over think it too much and I'm sure I'll have a blast!
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nmjameswilson
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by nmjameswilson »

Those two are good first ones and are close ... might as well get Handies too if you have time as it is right there.
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climbingcue
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by climbingcue »

All the peaks in the south that have been recommended in this thread will be better than Decalibron. Decalibron will look like time square NYC on a New Years eve. With the elevation you live at and the hiking you have done, all the peaks listed will be very doable for you. Have fun and enjoy.
Consecutive months with at least one 14er, 45 months and counting...
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desertdog
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by desertdog »

I live in Santa Fe and Humboldt was my first 14er. Sunshine and Redcloud would be great too. Also, Handies is “right across the street” from them as well. Camping in Grizzly Gulch will be crowded. If you drive up another mile or so it is less crowded, but a 4wd is needed. Anything in the Sawatch as well. Have fun!
The summit is a source of power. The long view gives one knowledge and time to prepare. The summit, by virtue of the dizzying exposure, leaves one vulnerable. A bit of confidence and a dash of humility is all we get for our work. Yet to share these moments with friends is to be human. C. Anker
GuiGirard
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Re: 14er Beginner with moderate experience, where to start?

Post by GuiGirard »

It looks like you are an experienced hiker, so endurance likely is fine. San Luis Peak is a charming peak, and of all I've climbed, by far is the easiest. From Stewarts Creek it's 14 miles r/t, all class 1 on excellent trails. Views are awesome. I hiked it on Friday of labor Day weekend, saw fewer than 10 people total. Saturday of Labor Day weekend, when I left the trailhead area (I was camping right next it the night before and the night after my hike): 12 cars total, so make that an average of 25 people attempting the peak, despite the absolutely perfect weather that day.

Redcloud and Handies remain among my favorite 14ers as well. Not as long, somewhat harder than San Luis yet not technical. Somehow I chickened out 6 years ago and did not push to Sunshine (if I recall correctly storms were in the forecast).

Huron is also a good 1st 14er in my opinion too because it's relatively short and continuously uphill with no false summits, it has steep terrain but a very flowing, not brutal trail up, only has a brief class 2 final push with only a little exposure on the way down. But it gets crowded on weekends, and add 4 miles to the hike if you do not have a good high-clearance 4WD vehicle.
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