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Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby cajunclimber » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:53 am

Hello, long time listener first time caller here. While this is a "what to hike?" thread I am looking for specifics on the current weather and what will be possible for my skill level.

A friend and I will be traveling up from south Louisiana to Denver. We will be heading into the Front Range on Friday the 23rd after noon and flying out of Denver on Wednesday the 28th at noon. I have built a sturdy hiking resume in the past few years with my toughest test yet being a week long Yosemite tour including the ascent of the Lyell Glacier and class 3 climbing to the summit (so a little ice axe and crampon experience). My friend has extensive hiking/outdoor experience but not quite to the level of the Lyell climb I mentioned. We have no avalanche training and the best I can do in cajun country is read Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain which I am doing now.

I have read through this forum and have put down some ideas for what we'd like to do. I really want to find routes that would require something a little more than just plain hiking. My friend and I will both have helmets, ice axes, and crampons and we hope to use them. We are renting a small 2-wheel drive SUV to get around. We will have tents so 1 overnighter is not out of the question but our tents are not made for high winds or snow loads.

Here is a general idea of what we are thinking so far. If you can provide specific trailheads and routes to help us meet our goals it would be much appreciated.

Friday 23rd
Drive in to a Grays/Torreys trailhead in the evening to camp and prepare for the next day.

Saturday 24th
Try to summit Grays and Torreys. Or one or the other if a tougher route on one of them would take a whole day. Dead Dog Couloir on Torreys the way to go?

Sunday 25th
Day off(don't want to push too hard the first 2 days) or make it down to Quandary. Do the East Ridge if weather is so-so but I'd like to do the Quandary Couloir if possible.

Monday 26th
If we took Sunday off we'd do Quandary this day. This evening drive to our next mountain(s) we will do on Tuesday. Ideas?

Tuesday 27th
Go up whatever we decided to drive to the day before.

Wednesday 28th
Drive back into Denver for our plane ride.

I realize the amount of snow on the ground will play a big role in what routes we can or cannot go up. As of now the forecast is changing day to day so I'm hoping as it gets closer to Thanksgiving I can get some up to date info in the thread. Thanks guys.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby jeremy27 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 8:58 am

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but I don't think any of the couloirs you have planned will go. Its too early in the season generally for snow climbs and the snow I have seen so far has been loose and unconsolidated fluff. Cooper's Snow Climbs book might send you to something that will go if you really want to use your axe.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby kansas » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:05 am

This is ridge season, not couloir season.

Your gear list should most likely consist of microspikes and trekking poles, crampons and ice axes are almost worthless this time of year.
"In the end, of course, it changed almost nothing. But I came to appreciate that mountains make poor receptacles for dreams."
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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby cajunclimber » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:16 am

Well it may be bad news for what I had hoped to do but I'm here for advice. I'm unfamiliar with the snow conditions but I figured it may be possible conditions would allow for such a route. If we must stick to the ridges, so be it. It will still be better than anything down here. :-D We will have trekking poles, no microspikes.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby Scott P » Fri Nov 16, 2012 9:17 am

As mentioned, it is ridge season. November is probably the least likely month of the year that you can find any couloir in condition in Colorado. The standard routes or ridge routes on Quandary, Grays and Torreys should be OK, but if a big storm hits (right now it isn't in the forecast), be aware of some avalanche danger, even on the standard Grays route. There isn't that much snow around, but I'd recommend a AWD or 4wd on the dirt roads since some may be icy. On slick roads, a 2wd SUV (if truck based) is far worse than a front wheel drive car. For gas mileage, an AWD or car-based SUV still has good traction.
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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby Matt Lemke » Fri Nov 16, 2012 11:13 am

Also be prepared for very cold temperatures and very strong winds. Wind speeds can easily (and do often) pass 50 MPH making even the perfect bluebird days miserable.

When I did the DeCaLiBron right before thanksgiving last year I was fighting 50 MPH sustained and 75+ MPH gusts the entire way, and the temperatures never went above freezing. I would have been forced to turn around if I wasn't wearing complete face protection as frostbite would have been imminent.

Bring an Ultra-Clava
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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby BenfromtheEast » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:18 pm

Stop and pick up microspikes on your way up to the mountains when you get here. Get the ones made by Kahtoola. You'll be glad to have them, I promise.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby jblyth » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:26 pm

BenfromtheEast wrote:Stop and pick up microspikes on your way up to the mountains when you get here. Get the ones made by Kahtoola. You'll be glad to have them, I promise.


He speaketh the gospel. They are my favorite piece of gear for most winter hikes.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby mts4602 » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:30 pm

I am in a similar situation, but only planning on attempting one 14er, probably on Nov 24th.

I'm thinking either Grays or Bierstadt would be good options. We will have a 4wd 4Runner.

I'm just wondering if either the road to the summer TH on Grays is still passable with this type of vehicle or if the road to Guanella Pass is open?

Matt
Matt

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby cajunclimber » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:33 pm

Thanks so far guys. I have loaded up on cold weather gear for this trip. Had to buy a bunch of it since the coldest it gets here is around freezing. I don't have a baclava yet but I was planning on grabbing that at REI before heading out. We have already planned for good eye protection as well. Probably go ahead and grab the Kahtoola microspikes too. Oh yeah, my buddy called the rental car place and requested a front wheel drive or all wheel drive suv.

Still looking for suggestions on peaks and routes. We are not 100% set on a certain area so all suggestions are welcome.

Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby MonGoose » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:35 pm

BenfromtheEast wrote:Stop and pick up microspikes on your way up to the mountains when you get here. Get the ones made by Kahtoola. You'll be glad to have them, I promise.


Word.

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Re: Multiple 14ers this Thanksgiving holiday

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Fri Nov 16, 2012 12:43 pm

If you don't want to drive to far check out the chicago creek route up Mount Evans, that's a nice off season route. You could also do Evans from guanella pass along with bierdstat, not sure what condition the sawtooth ridge is in now, but even if it didn't go you could do both in a long day. If you don't mind driving a bit you should consider something like La Plata or Yale, both would be nice this time of year.

Forecast looks high and dry for the next 20 years or so.

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