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Thread: Advice on 13k'ers and 14k'ers in Colorado

  1. #1
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    Advice on 13k'ers and 14k'ers in Colorado

    Heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park area in August.
    Looking for advice on your favorite 2-3 hikes you've done out there.
    I'd like to summit a 13k'er or 14k'er if possible, but that's not necessary.
    No idea how we'll handle the altitude, coming from sea-level.
    Ideally looking for well-defined, moderate trails leading to beautiful views.
    No hero stuff.
    Thanks.
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  2. #2
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Bierstadt is a very easy 14er, up near Georgetown. Greys and Torres are close by too, two 14ers done as a loop, class 2 well trodden. I find sleeping at the trailheads if your short on time to acclimate makes a huge difference. Gerry Roache has the best guidebooks For both the 13ers and the 14ers. 14ers.com is the go to place for info. Join that group and ask away.

  3. #3
    Senior Member weatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Billy View Post
    Heading to the Rocky Mountain National Park area in August.
    Looking for advice on your favorite 2-3 hikes you've done out there.
    I'd like to summit a 13k'er or 14k'er if possible, but that's not necessary.
    No idea how we'll handle the altitude, coming from sea-level.
    Ideally looking for well-defined, moderate trails leading to beautiful views.
    No hero stuff.
    Thanks.
    RMNP is very crowded that time of year, but if you work a bit you can stay away from crowds. There are multiple entrances and the one with 80% of the traffic is the eastern one near Estes Park.

    Only 14er in the immediate area is Longs, which is definitely hero stuff if you've recently arrived from sea level. I've been here almost 10 years and I'd have some trepidation about the length and exposure/fall potential near the top. Having said that, the 13ers in the area are gorgeous and MUCH less popular. And views are spectacular no matter where you go. Hike to anything above treeline and look around (treeline is 11400 on average). Sierra's point about Gerry Roach's books is spot-on, as is the website (there is a website called 13ers.com too, with the same format as 14ers.com).

    I have a friend who's done all the 14ers at least once. His rule for flatlanders is to sleep at least one night above 9K before even trying a 13er/14er. My major advice is to get an insanely early start, go 70% of the speed you do in New England, and if you think you're going too slow, slow down. With enough daylight and patience you will make it. All the caveats about weather apply, of course. Water is generally unavailable above treeline, so bring your big Camelbak. I drink 4L over a full day hike and still need to catch up afterward.

    Hoping for a less hot and wetter summer this year. Winter has been good to us, hopefully the next 6 months will be too. Enjoy!
    --would rather be hiking than typing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    RMNP is a zoo that time of year. Parking at a trailhead is almost impossible and you wind up having to park in a central lot, then take a shuttle bus to the trailheads along the road to Bear Lake. That said, I used the Park to acclimatize (before tackling a couple of 14ers) by doing two hikes: Flattop Mt and Loch Vale. Both are pretty easy and Flattop Mt is about 12K with the trailhead being about 9.5K. Went from Logan to Flattop in about 24 hours. Altitude is a problem but if you take it slow and drink plenty of water, it's bearable.

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    Senior Member blacknblue's Avatar
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    You could always travel a bit south of there to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. A lot less crowded and some fantastic peaks. There are several peaks from Brainerd Lake, or aim for James Peak from Moffitt Tunnel.
    "People hardly ever make use of the freedom which they have, for example, freedom of thought; instead they demand freedom of speech as a compensation."
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  6. #6
    Senior Member weatherman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by blacknblue View Post
    You could always travel a bit south of there to the Indian Peaks Wilderness. A lot less crowded and some fantastic peaks. There are several peaks from Brainerd Lake, or aim for James Peak from Moffitt Tunnel.
    Yes. Indian Peaks is just so amazingly gorgeous. There are actually a couple of permanent snowfields/erstwhile glaciers in that area. Though due to easy access, Brainard Lake has become a zoo over the past 3 years also... boo. Go midweek and you will have much more fun. I'm starting to think I have to go almost to freaking Wyoming to find solitude.
    --would rather be hiking than typing.

  7. #7
    Member JToll's Avatar
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    I plan to be in Leadville in early August. Any suggestions on a 13ker?

  8. #8
    Senior Member maineguy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JToll View Post
    I plan to be in Leadville in early August. Any suggestions on a 13k’er?
    Why not a 14er? In Leadville you are right down the road from 3 trailheads: Elbert, Massive, LaPlata. All reasonable peaks that are basically just walk ups.

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maineguy View Post
    Why not a 14er? In Leadville you are right down the road from 3 trailheads: Elbert, Massive, LaPlata. All reasonable peaks that are basically just walk ups.
    I agree with this, but will add one more. Mt. Huron is one of the best peaks in this area. Its pretty easy, by far the easiest out of these four, but the setting and surrounding peaks make it a fantastic climb. There is even the remnants of an old mine near the trailhead. The road to the trailhead is somewhat rough, but you can park farther away and its still an easy hike. If you just did this hike, you would leave happy. LaPlata is another great mountain, its a great trail and surroundings, capped off with amazing views from the small summit. Massive and Elbert are great too, but much more crowded.

  10. #10
    Member JToll's Avatar
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    Thanks for the suggestions, I will investigate them on the 14er website

  11. #11
    Senior Member weatherman's Avatar
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    Leadville is like the perfect basecamp. All you have to do to acclimatize is be. (it's at 10K feet) It has great coffee and lots of places to explore while you're there. Possibly the highest opera house in North America, or maybe even the world. I cannot imagine singing Puccini in Leadville. Then again, I cannot imagine singing Puccini.
    --would rather be hiking than typing.

  12. #12
    Senior Member BISCUT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by weatherman View Post
    RMNP is very crowded that time of year, but if you work a bit you can stay away from crowds. There are multiple entrances and the one with 80% of the traffic is the eastern one near Estes Park.

    Only 14er in the immediate area is Longs, which is definitely hero stuff if you've recently arrived from sea level. I've been here almost 10 years and I'd have some trepidation about the length and exposure/fall potential near the top. Having said that, the 13ers in the area are gorgeous and MUCH less popular. And views are spectacular no matter where you go. Hike to anything above treeline and look around (treeline is 11400 on average). Sierra's point about Gerry Roach's books is spot-on, as is the website (there is a website called 13ers.com too, with the same format as 14ers.com).

    I have a friend who's done all the 14ers at least once. His rule for flatlanders is to sleep at least one night above 9K before even trying a 13er/14er. My major advice is to get an insanely early start, go 70% of the speed you do in New England, and if you think you're going too slow, slow down. With enough daylight and patience you will make it. All the caveats about weather apply, of course. Water is generally unavailable above treeline, so bring your big Camelbak. I drink 4L over a full day hike and still need to catch up afterward.

    Hoping for a less hot and wetter summer this year. Winter has been good to us, hopefully the next 6 months will be too. Enjoy!
    Great advice. I did Bierstadt less than 24 hours after landing in Denver and took the I can always turn around attitude. Weather was excellent. Bierstadt is an easy hike BUT I found the 9500k foot parking lot to give me a few gasps of air every now and then. 12k Feet hit me pretty well and by 14k I was completely gassed. I wasn't nauseous and didn't get a headache but felt like my pack was 100lbs and my boots were made of led. It was the most fatigue I've ever felt in my life.

    If I had to do it again I would have slept in my rental (Tahoe) at the 9500ft trail head. I think that would have helped a lot.

  13. #13
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BISCUT View Post
    Great advice. I did Bierstadt less than 24 hours after landing in Denver and took the I can always turn around attitude. Weather was excellent. Bierstadt is an easy hike BUT I found the 9500k foot parking lot to give me a few gasps of air every now and then. 12k Feet hit me pretty well and by 14k I was completely gassed. I wasn't nauseous and didn't get a headache but felt like my pack was 100lbs and my boots were made of led. It was the most fatigue I've ever felt in my life.

    If I had to do it again I would have slept in my rental (Tahoe) at the 9500ft trail head. I think that would have helped a lot.
    The trailhead elevation is 11,669 ft.

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