| 58 in 2012
I reached the summits of all 58 14ers this summer in 117 days; beginning with Mt. Sherman on May 15, 2012 and ending with North Mt. Eolus on Sept. 8, 2012.
That schedule did not leave a lot of time for trip reports so I am going to summarize my summer in this single “trip report”.
Reaching the 58 summits required 39 separate “trips”; 17 of these trips were day hikes/climbs where I departed from and returned to my home base in Buena Vista; two were day hikes where I departed from other “indoor” accommodations (a hotel in Ouray and a friend’s timeshare in Vail); 10 hikes/climbs came after I car-camped at or near a trailhead; five hikes/climbs required a one-night backpacking trip and five required multi-night backpacking trips.
Mt. Sherman, #1.
N. Mt. Eolus, #58.
I also hiked Mt. Yale an additional four times. All of the Yale hikes were day trips from BV; the first on July 3, then three in late August and the summer finale on September 14 (after I had completed the 58). By reaching the Yale summit on three of those four “extra” hikes (on the fourth I turned around on the upper ridge a few hundred feet short of the summit; due in part to weather but also just because it felt good to turn around and not care about the summit) I brought my estimated elevation gain for the summer to 200,570 and boosted my estimated hiking/climbing mileage to 471.
On one of those Yale hikes I serendipitously encountered Jon “Homie” Prater near the summit and just minutes after he had decided to call off his quest for the 14er speed record. Later, in the Denny Creek TH parking lot, I met Gerry Roach. Wow!
My chance meeting with Prater and Roach.
I know that opinions vary about the number of 14ers but, after studying the matter at some length before I began my quest, I settled on the number 58. That includes the 53 peaks with at least 300 feet of prominence from their nearest neighbor plus:
• El Diente Peak, which rises 259 feet above its saddle with Mt. Wilson.
• Conundrum Peak, which rises 240 feet above its saddle with Castle Peak.
• North Maroon Peak, which rises 234 feet above its saddle with Maroon Peak.
• Mt. North Eolus, which rises 179 feet above its saddle with Mt. Eolus.
• Mt. Cameron, which rises 138 feet above its saddle with Mt. Lincoln.
I am also aware that there are those who do not believe that a peak is “climbed” if the climber does not ascend at least 3,000 feet to reach the summit. I did not comply with this so-called “3,000-foot rule”.
I reached 12 of the 58 summits by hiking/climbing to them from the summit of an adjacent 14er. I don’t know exactly how much elevation gain was required to reach each of these 12 summits by traverse but it was almost certainly less than 3,000 feet in each case.
The summits reached in this manner were:
• Torreys Peak from Grays Peak.
• Mt. Cameron, Mt. Lincoln and Mt. Bross from Mt. Democrat.
• Conundrum Peak from Castle Peak
• Mt. Columbia from Mt. Harvard
• Mt. Oxford from Mt. Belford
• Mt. Wilson from El Diente Peak
• Sunshine Peak from Redcloud Peak
• Kit Carson Peak from Challenger Point
• Windom Peak from Sunlight Peak
• North Mt. Eolus from Mt. Eolus
In addition I reached at least seven summits by hiking/climbing from a trailhead that required gaining less than 3,000 feet of elevation.
Those seven mountains (and the approximate elevation gained) were:
• Mt. Sherman (2,150)
• Mt. Bierstadt (2,850)
• Mt. Evans (1,650, snow couloir)
• Mt. Sneffels (2,900)
• Handies Peak (2,500)
• Mt. Antero (600)
• Mt. Democrat (2,150)
I climbed Crestone Peak and Crestone Needle on the same day, via the standard routes and not the traverse. While I think the climb of the Needle after the Peak might meet the 3,000-foot rule (it sure felt like it!); some may not see it that way.
Overall, I estimate that I hiked/climbed over 433 miles and gained more than 183,000 feet of elevation to reach the 58 summits (not counting the “extra credit” hikes of Mt. Yale).
I have no delusions that reaching the 58 summits on well-traveled, standard (i.e. easiest) routes makes me some kind of an elite climber. Rather, I would describe myself as a decent scrambler that had the time, the desire and the tenacity to reach all of the 58 summits in one year. I don’t think it is anything more than that, nor anything less.
Likewise, I’m sure there are people older than me who have reached all of the 58 summits in one year. However, I do imagine that, at age 57, I am considerably older than the average of those who have climbed them all in one year.
I also want to acknowledge that the weather and snow conditions in 2012 made the task easier than it would have been in most other years. While I did make some snow climbs (Bierstadt, Grays-Torreys, Evans, Castle, Snowmass and El Diente) the very low snow pack and the early melt out gave me a lot of flexibility in choosing my climbs in May and June that I would not have had in a “typical” climbing season.
I had one brush with lightening (on La Plata Peak) but I was never turned back by weather (not counting the “extra” Mt. Yale hike where I turned around on the summit ridge). Part of the reason for that “good fortune” was that I adjusted my schedule based on weather reports; and I almost always started very early in the morning. In fact, I probably started out under headlamp on the majority of my climbs. Also, my willingness to car-camp at trailheads and backpack in to base camps increased my success rate.
Still, my good fortune with the weather was substantial and undeniable.
I want to thank Bill Middlebrook, the creator and maintainer of 14ers.com, for making it possible for me to do what I have done. Really and truly, I do not believe that I could have made it to the 58 summits without 14ers.com.
In early 2012, when I began to seriously consider giving the 58 a go, I became a registered user of 14ers.com and it was a constant and unflagging source of information. Thank you Bill, and thank you to the 14ers.com community for providing me with the copious and timely information that made it possible for me to reach all 58 summits this year. (Note: Gerry Roach is a good writer and I used his book as a secondary reference; but 14ers.com was my primary source for information on routes, weather and up-to-date trail conditions).
I also want to acknowledge the assistance of the Colorado Mountain Club. I participated in seven CMC trips this year in which I reached the summits of 11 14ers. These CMC trips, especially those to more difficult mountains like Capitol Peak, Maroon Peak and the Wilson Group were a tremendous benefit to me and made the task much easier (and a lot safer) than it would have been otherwise.
I am thankful to Candace Winkle, Bruce Badger and Eileen O’Leary for allowing me to go on the CMC trips they led. Joe Aldridge played a key role in some of those trips. I am indebted to all of them.
I especially want to thank Caleb Efta for being my climbing partner on North Maroon Peak and Pyramid Peak. Meeting him in July and climbing those two peaks with him was a huge boost for me.
Caleb in the chimney on N. Maroon.
Likewise I want to thank Reynold Kalstrom for being my partner on Little Bear Peak in August. Reynold is a CMC member and we met on climbs of Maroon Peak and Capitol Peak in July. Interestingly, Little Bear was the 51st 14er summit for both of us.
Reynold in The Hourglass on Little Bear.
I am absolutely certain that both Caleb and Reynold will be standing on their 58th 14er summits soon.
Another important trip for me this summer was the traverse from El Diente to Mt. Wilson with fellow CMC members Sylwia Hendrickson, Frank Dong and trip leader Bruce Badger. Not only was that a great and successful trip but all three stayed in touch after the trip offering words of support and encouragement.
Sylwia, Frank and Bruce on the El Deinte to Mt. Wilson traverse.
Frank, Sylwia and Bruce look up at El Deinte-Mt. Wilson ridge from Navajo Basin. Were we really up there just a few hours earlier?
Even though I hiked/climbed 39 of the mountains “solo” I was rarely out there completely alone and, for the most part, I enjoyed the people I met on the mountains.
The aspect that I liked the least was driving the mountain roads. I came within minutes of being caught in a huge rock slide on the Ledge Road outside of Lake City on July 5 (my birthday) and that did nothing to boost my already shaky confidence on the mountain roads.
News report of the Rock Slide on the Ledge Road.
When I was standing on my own two feet I had no problem with features like “The Knife Edge”, “The Catwalk” or “The Hourglass”.
The Knife Edge.
But put me behind the wheel of my truck on a steep, narrow road and I was not nearly as confident. I dreaded those four-wheel drive roads and I will not miss them. Nor, for that matter, will I miss the drive on Colorado 82 over Independence Pass; especially those bizarre stretches where the yellow centerline disappears and you are suddenly on a one-lane road squeezed between the mountainside and a 1,000-foot drop.
Without a doubt my least favorite mountain was Mt. Columbia. Also ranking near the bottom are Challenger Point and Mt. Antero. Scree is, by far, my least favorite footing and Columbia and Challenger both have a ton of it. Antero is just boring and butt-ugly, so I rented an ATV and drove up most of the road.
My longest, hardest and loneliest day was the traverse from Mt. Harvard to Mt. Columbia on June 11. I was out 15 hours and it was probably not a very good idea to have done that alone. I thought the long slide down Columbia’s scree slope on tired legs at the end of the day would never end. Not all that far behind, in second place for the hardest day, was the Crestone Peak/Crestone Needle combo. Again, the tired-leg-descent from Broken Hand Pass to my campsite at South Colony Lakes seemed to go on forever (but not half as long as the descent from Mt. Columbia).
While the least favorite mountains and the hardest days stand out very clearly; picking a favorite is a lot more difficult. Eventually I will submit a favorites list on 14ers.com, but I have not been able to settle yet on exactly what it will be.
For the time being, Pyramid Peak is in first place. Mt. Wilson is in second because I loved the ridge and the traverse from El Diente (which is #5 on my list) even though I hated the long descent. I’ve currently got Sunlight Peak at #3 (my favorite summit) and Wilson Peak at #4 (fun, challenging scrambling and great views).
The Sunlight Leap.
Two climbers descend from Mt. Wilson. This is my favorite photo of the summer.
Rounding out the top ten are Maroon, Wetterhorn, Capitol, North Maroon and San Luis.
The Elks were, by far, my favorite range. There isn’t a single slacker in the bunch. I really enjoyed and respect all seven of the mountains in the Elks Range.
The Diving Board.
The mandatory photo of the iconic Bells.
Wetterhorn Peak may have been the most pleasant serendipity of the summer. I was not expecting much but I really enjoyed the solid rock and the fun scrambling on that mountain. Another nice surprise was the hike to San Luis Peak from the Stewart Creek trailhead. It was a beautiful hike on a great trail and then, suddenly, I was standing on top of a 14er! Easy, pretty and tranquil; that’s a nice combination.
Reflection in a beaver pond on the Northeast Ridge route to San Luis Peak from the Stewart Creek TH.
I’m happy to be back home in Texas now, formulating new goals for future years; but Colorado’s highest peaks will remain with me forever.
Thanks Colorado for sharing them – all 58 of them – with me this summer.
It was a hell of a party.
San Antonio, Texas
Following is a day-by-day summary and then as many photos as the web site allowed me to post.
Day Date Mountain Trailhead Route
1 5/15/2012 Mt. Sherman Iowa Gulch West Slopes
3 5/17/2012 Mt. Bierstadt Guanella Pass West Slopes
4 5/18/2012 Grays Peak Grays Peak East Slope
4 5/18/2012 Torreys Peak Grays Peak via Grays Peak
7 5/21/2012 Quandary Peak Quandary East Ridge
8 5/22/2012 Mt. Democrat Kite Lake East Slopes
8 5/22/2012 Mt. Cameron Kite Lake via Democrat
8 5/22/2012 Mt. Lincoln Kite Lake via Democrat
8 5/22/2012 Mt. Bross Kite Lake via Democrat
11 5/25/2012 Mt. Evans Summit Lake West Ridge/West Gully
13 5/27/2012 Tabeguache Peak Jennings Creek Ridge
16 5/30/2012 Castle Peak Castle Creek North Face Couloir
16 5/30/2012 Conundrum Peak Castle Creek via Castle
18 6/1/2012 Huron Peak Clear Creek North Ridge
19 6/2/2012 La Plata Peak Winfield Southwest Ridge
21 6/4/2012 Mt. Shavano Shav-Tab East Slopes
24 6/7/2012 Longs Peak Longs Peak/RMNP Keyhole Route
27 6/10/2012 Mt. Princeton Mt. Princeton Road East Slopes
28 6/11/2012 Mt. Harvard N. Cottonwood Ck. South Slopes
28 6/11/2012 Mt. Columbia N. Cottonwood Ck. West Slopes
30 6/13/2012 Mt. Belford Missouri Gulch Northwest Ridge
30 6/13/2012 Mt. Oxford Missouri Gulch via Mt. Belford
34 6/17/2012 Snowmass Mt. Snowmass Creek East Slope
37 6/20/2012 Missouri Mountain Missouri Gulch Northwest Ridge
41 6/24/2012 El Diente Peak Navajo Lake North Slopes
41 6/24/2012 Mt. Wilson Navajo Lake Northeast Ridge
43 6/26/2012 Wilson Peak Navajo Lake Southwest Ridge
45 6/28/2012 Mt. Sneffels Yankee Boy Basin Gully from Yankee Boy
50 7/3/2012 Mt. Yale Denny Creek Southwest Slopes
57 7/10/2012 Maroon Peak Maroon Lake South Ridge
58 7/11/2012 Pyramid Peak Maroon Lake Northeast Ridge
59 7/12/2012 North Maroon Peak Maroon Lake Northeast Ridge
64 7/17/2012 San Luis Peak Stewart Creek Northeast Ridge
65 7/18/2012 Redcloud Peak Silver Creek Northeast Ridge
65 7/18/2012 Sunshine Peak Silver Creek via Redcloud
66 7/19/2012 Handies Peak American Basin Southwest Slopes
68 7/21/2012 Mt. Massive Mt. M assive East Slopes
70 7/23/2012 Mt. Lindsey Lily Lake North Face
72 7/25/2012 Capitol Peak Capitol Creek Northeast Ridge
76 7/29/2012 Pikes Peak Crags Campground Northwest Slopes
77 7/30/2012 Mt. Antero Baldwin Gulch West Slopes
79 8/1/2012 Mt. Holy Cross Half Moon North Ridge
82 8/4/2012 Wetterhorn Peak Matterhorn Creek Southeast Ridge
83 8/5/2012 Uncompahgre Peak Nellie Creek South Ridge
86 8/8/2012 Challenger Point Willow Creek North Slope
86 8/8/2012 Kit Carson Peak Willow Creek via Challenger Point
88 8/10/2012 Mt. Elbert Mt. Elbert TH Northeast Ridge
90 8/12/2012 Culebra Peak Cielo Vista Ranch Northwest Ridge
91 8/13/2012 Blanca Peak Lake Como Northwest Ridge
91 8/13/2012 Ellingwood Point Lake Como South Face
92 8/14/2012 Little Bear Peak Lake Como W. Ridge & SW Face
99 8/21/2012 Crestone Peak S. Colony Lakes South Face/Red Gully
99 8/21/2012 Crestone Needle S. Colony Lakes South Face
100 8/22/2012 Humboldt Peak S. Colony Lakes West Ridge
116 9/7/2012 Windom Peak Chicago Basin West Ridge
116 9/7/2012 Sunlight Peak Chicago Basin South Face
117 9/8/2012 Mt. Eolus Chicago Basin Northeast Ridge
118 9/8/2012 North Mt. Eolus Chicago Basin South Ridge
Packing out on the infamous Lake Como Road.
The Three Apostles, photographed from the Huron trail.
Two hikers celebrate on the Huron summit.
Pikes Peak; a unique summit experience.
Flowers on the traverse from Harvard to Columbia.
Morning view from the Boulderfield Campground.
I took this photo not long after passing through the Keyhole on Longs Peak.
A Ptarmigan hides in plain sight on the Oxford summit.
I hate to admit it but I was outsmarted by a marmot that stole and then ate my sunglasses on the summit of Culebra Peak.
An iconic view of the Crestones from Humboldt.
The knobby descent from the Needle.
A sign that it's time for me to go home? The Aspens were turning on Mt. Yale on my final hike of the summer.
Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):