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Climbing 14ers: Getting Started

Finding Partners


If you're a beginner, avoid the temptation to hike alone (solo); The risks are great and the consequences are greater. Your dilema may be "Where do I find partners?" Unless you're shy about meeting new people, it's really not that difficult. Maybe it's people you already know or maybe you can make friends with people who have similar goals.

Once you find partners, it will only take one or two hikes to determine if you are a good fit and make similar decisions. As your peaks become more difficult, you'll need to be able to trust your partner's skills, physical endurance, weather analysis, and problem solving. Also, you need to be confident that if an important decision needs to be made during the hike, that you and your partner(s) will be on the same page. Let's say you are 400 feet from the summit of a 14er and thunderstorms are rolling in and you need to make a decision to turn back due to the danger. If you want to turn around and descend but your partner says something like "I've come this far, I'm not turning back. You go back and I'll meet you after I get the summit." then you have a problem. You now realize that your partner has a different tolerance in dangerous situations and is willing to split up at a critial time. So you descend, they go up and now you're both without a partner when it's most important to have one. You probably need a new partner.

Aside from the safety aspect, you'll also have someone to share the experience with and make some good memories.

The Forum - Climbing Connection

If you're not already a registered member of 14ers.com, we encourage you to sign up. It's free and it gives you access to post in our forum. In summer, the forum is an active place and you'll see plenty of other hikers looking for hiking partners. Posting in the Climbing Connection sub-forum is a quick way for your post to be seen by many other people because many of us monitor the forum posts on the 14ers.com home page.

Facebook Groups

If you're active on Facebook, check out the 14ers.com group. It's a large group and we have an excellent team of moderators who keep the group on-track and free of inappropriate stuff. The group is also in-line with the hiking ethics of 14ers.com and the mission to provide free information, without promotional content. Many, many people make hiking partnerships through the group.

You'll also find another group called Colorado 14ers which is not affiliated with 14ers.com and maintained by Craig Brauer. Both groups are good for beginners but you'll find a larger number of experienced folks on the 14ers.com group.

14ers.com Meet-Ups and Gatherings

If you monitor the 14ers.com Facebook Group or the 14ers.com forum, you will occasionally see posts for local gatherings of 14er enthusiasts. They usually take place in Denver, Boulder or Colorado Springs but sometimes in other towns. Don't be shy, show up to a gathering and meet some like-minded hikers. Many of us have formed solid hiking partnerships, and good friendships, by attending these events.

At least once a year, a few dedicated 14ers.com members organize a weekend gathering where a bunch of hikers camp and partner-up for some 14er or other climbs in the area. Most notably, almost every year we organize a "Fall Gathering" in the San Juan Mountains, near Lake City, where there are hikes for people of all skill levels, including beginners. This gathering usually draws about 50 people and it is definitely a lot of fun around the campfire. It's a great event to find partners and draw off of their experience.

Partners

Fat, forty-four, father of three sons, and facing a vasectomy, Mark Obmascik would never have guessed that his next move would be up a 14,000-foot mountain. But when his twelve-year-old son gets bitten by the climbing bug at summer camp, Obmascik can't resist the opportunity for some high-altitude father-son bonding by hiking a peak together. After their first joint climb, addled by the thin air, Obmascik decides to keep his head in the clouds and try scaling all 54 of Colorado's 14,000-foot mountains, known as the Fourteeners -- and to do them in less than one year. Mark Obmascik, Author
Halfway to Heaven: My White-Knuckled - and Knuckleheaded - Quest for the Rocky Mountain High