Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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dwoodward13
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by dwoodward13 » Wed Jan 29, 2020 2:01 pm

chiggiebeeeese wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:42 pm
Thanks for the advice guys! Belford looks good as does Holy Cross. This may be a dumb question (almost assuredly is), but isn't it unwise to camp above treeline in case of a thunderstorm? The only other peaks i have camped on we have always camped below treeline.
Thunderstorms come into play, as well as wind potentially blowing all night long. Risk is probably low as far as thunderstorms, but the wind can absolutely keep you up all night flapping the rain fly. An additional factor in camping above treeline is the impact left if you are camping on tundra. Tundra takes years, centuries even depending on the extent of damage to restore itself.

Note that Holy Cross has designed campsites you must stay at in the East Cross Creek drainage.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by Scott P » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:30 pm

chiggiebeeeese wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 1:42 pm
Thanks for the advice guys! Belford looks good as does Holy Cross. This may be a dumb question (almost assuredly is), but isn't it unwise to camp above treeline in case of a thunderstorm? The only other peaks i have camped on we have always camped below treeline.
It depends. If you are going to be the highest object around, then it certainly isn't wise. If you are in a sheltered hollow with many higher objects around, the danger isn't as great.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by mtree » Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:51 pm

Besides the view, camping above treeline sucks.
Wind, cold, hail, rain, flash floods, snow, lightning, its all an issue. But one problem you may encounter that few will mention...you may not sleep. The higher you go the more the altitude will affect your sleep. I can say this from experience. Sleeping above 12,000 feet is tough!

That said, others have given lots of great recommendations for backpacking ideas. Have fun!
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by 4thPlaceAtFieldDay » Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:00 pm

This screams Harvard to me. Great camping right below treeline.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by stephakett » Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:14 pm

Corey17 wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:12 am
Harvard and/or Columbia jumps to mind for me, that was my first overnight. Horn Fork basin is beautiful with plentiful camping, and only a few miles in from the TH. Then you could pick Harvard, Columbia, or both from camp pretty well. Blanca and/or Ellingwood with a camp at Lake Como could be nice, but that road is infamous for a reason. Most other peaks that "require" a camp (Wilsons, Crestones, Capitol, Snowmass, etc) are far more difficult and less suited for beginners.
i'll caution that the route to columbia from horn fork basin SUCKS. would be best to wait until CFI is finished with that project, which *should* be this year [-o<
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by pw » Wed Jan 29, 2020 9:13 pm

A slog up the road to Lake Como, camp near the lake and then do Blanca and Ellingwood and out the next day is a nice trip. It would help if you have a 4 wheel drive vehicle capable of getting up the road a little bit, you won't make it all the way up, but you can knock off some distance. You probably want to skip Little Bear if you aren't experienced.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by highpilgrim » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:11 am

mtree wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:51 pm
Besides the view, camping above treeline sucks.
Wind, cold, hail, rain, flash floods, snow, lightning, its all an issue.
Check the weather forecast. Crappy weather? Stay lower.

Sleeping above timberline is awesome. The views are great, day or night and especially during a full moon.

As to concerns about tundra sensitivity: You don't camp for a week on the same spot. Move your tent around, don't dig or build fire pits. Be a light camper and leave no trace.

Btw, the timberline in Missouri gulch is about 11k, and sleeping is just fine. I've slept up there in winter, spring, and summer and had a great night every time.

Just like anything else in the hillz; good judgement required.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by stephakett » Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:20 am

highpilgrim wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:11 am
mtree wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 3:51 pm
Besides the view, camping above treeline sucks.
Wind, cold, hail, rain, flash floods, snow, lightning, its all an issue.
ILB.jpg
sleeping at ILB was the windiest, stormiest night of backpacking i've ever done. the sunrise was pretty cool, though.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by highpilgrim » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:12 pm

stephakett wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:20 am
sleeping at ILB was the windiest, stormiest night of backpacking i've ever done. the sunrise was pretty cool, though.
I've had a similar experience there as well.

Suffering a bit is sometimes worthwhile. Anyone that hikes 14ers with regularity understands this as an aphorism.

Also: bring some bourbon, a good sleeping bag and enjoy the storm.

And, if you check for weather, it usually works. vv

.
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Last edited by highpilgrim on Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by chiggiebeeeese » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:21 pm

stephakett wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:14 pm
Corey17 wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:12 am
Harvard and/or Columbia jumps to mind for me, that was my first overnight. Horn Fork basin is beautiful with plentiful camping, and only a few miles in from the TH. Then you could pick Harvard, Columbia, or both from camp pretty well. Blanca and/or Ellingwood with a camp at Lake Como could be nice, but that road is infamous for a reason. Most other peaks that "require" a camp (Wilsons, Crestones, Capitol, Snowmass, etc) are far more difficult and less suited for beginners.
i'll caution that the route to columbia from horn fork basin SUCKS. would be best to wait until CFI is finished with that project, which *should* be this year [-o<
Is the route loose or steep? or does it just suck to hike?
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by Corey17 » Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:37 pm

chiggiebeeeese wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 12:21 pm
stephakett wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 4:14 pm
Corey17 wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 11:12 am
Harvard and/or Columbia jumps to mind for me, that was my first overnight. Horn Fork basin is beautiful with plentiful camping, and only a few miles in from the TH. Then you could pick Harvard, Columbia, or both from camp pretty well. Blanca and/or Ellingwood with a camp at Lake Como could be nice, but that road is infamous for a reason. Most other peaks that "require" a camp (Wilsons, Crestones, Capitol, Snowmass, etc) are far more difficult and less suited for beginners.
i'll caution that the route to columbia from horn fork basin SUCKS. would be best to wait until CFI is finished with that project, which *should* be this year [-o<
Is the route loose or steep? or does it just suck to hike?
Definitely very loose and steep - the rotten loose nature is probably among the worst on the standard 14er routes. Harvard is the far more pleasant option until the CFI work is done. Hopefully soon!
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Re: Good overnight '14er for a beginner?

Post by Cruiser » Thu Jan 30, 2020 1:30 pm

When I did the South Ridge route on San Luis a bunch of years ago I made a mental note to return to the area with my kids for an overnight in or near Boneholder Meadows. If you are interested in something kind of out of the way then do a bit of research on it because I think it would be a magnificent spot for a night or 2.
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