First 14er

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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First 14er

Postby 4sons » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:01 pm

Hello All,

I am looking for some advice. I am wanting to take a group of dads of sons (about 16 year olds) on a trip to Colorado. I would like a trip where we have a 4 or 5 days of backpacking with a 14er climb in it. Maybe even a little fishing in the middle.

I was looking at maybe The Holy Cross Wilderness. What say you? Any thoughts? Anything better?



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Re: First 14er

Postby Dex » Fri Dec 07, 2012 7:41 pm

What time of year?
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Re: First 14er

Postby elhombre » Sat Dec 08, 2012 8:52 am

Where are y'all coming from? More importantly, what elevation is home?
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Re: First 14er

Postby DenneyR » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:23 am

If you're new to the mountains, and with a group of teens, I would recommend sometime in June, July or August and one of the easier climbs. Maybe Handies, Huron, Yale.......if you want a trip to remember, maybe Colorado's highest peak, Mt Elbert.

Be sure to do research so you are prepared. Bring plenty of water for everyone.

AND.............have fun

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Re: First 14er

Postby wildlobo71 » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:58 am

If you are willing to drive a bit - Huron Peak is the best overall experience summit for first timers - in my mind, bar none. Good length, easier, views are amazing and it's far enough away from Denver that the trip feels like an adventure.

All other advice about time of year, acclimatize, and hydrate still apply.

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Re: First 14er

Postby pseudoghost » Sat Dec 08, 2012 1:59 pm

The Holy Cross Wilderness would be a spectacular choice for a trip of that duration. If you can, find a way to get a car shuttle, because you'll likely want to make a one-way trip through the HCW as it's so large and there's so many good places to stay. If you do decide to go to the HCW, I would recommend working your way from Missouri Lakes or Fancy Lake over to Cross Creek or Holy Cross City, and then working your way towards either Notch Mountain (for Halo Ridge which is spectacular) or the standard route on Holy Cross.

Depending on how adventurous you are, you could also try the Four Pass loop in the Aspen area and try summitting Snowmass, the standard route on Snowmass is really not that difficult, just some exposure and rockfall danger.

You could also work a nice backcamping trip out of the Sangre de Cristos, but nothing as well traveled as either of the areas that I've already mentioned.

You could do something in RMNP. Maybe backpack in the wild basin area, and make an attempt at Longs Peak. That would be a pretty nice trip too.

The Colorado Trail just opened a new loop segment in the Buena Vista area which would provide you pretty easy access to a number of 14ers, any of which would make for a good first time trip. Can't seem to find any more detailed information on it, so you'd have to do some searching.

Timewise, any of these trips would be doable in the late-June-September time frame. If you come earlier than that you might run into snow that could potentially block your route.

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Re: First 14er

Postby 4sons » Sat Dec 08, 2012 7:38 pm

Thanks for the input. As far as time. I am looking at either the end of June or sometime I'm July.

As far as experience I've done a 12er and spent some time on Rainier but didn't summit. Other than that just backpacking experience. We will be coming from Alabama with an elevation of about 250 feet, so acclimating with be very important. I assume we'll fly into Denver?

I like the Longs Peak idea but I'm afraid it would be too much for our experience level?

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Re: First 14er

Postby Ramsey Boys » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:04 pm

Mt Harvard would be a great first 14er. You can hike in a few hours and camp just below tree line and summit the next day. It is a beautiful trail and the hike is very nice. I didn't feel like it got challenging until the last 1000 vertical ft. It was the first one my son and I did and it is still one of my favorites. There is plenty of water around and you will be close to Buena Vista which is a cool town. Have fun, keep an eye on the weather and plan to summit by 11:00 am.

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Re: First 14er

Postby 4sons » Sat Dec 08, 2012 9:37 pm

Which of these recommendations would be best for the 4 or 5 day backpacking trip? I kinda thought if we could find the right area we could backpack while getting used to the altitude?

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Re: First 14er

Postby B[3] » Sun Dec 09, 2012 8:53 am

I'd suggest checking out Pine Creek. We did it as a multiple day trip several years ago and really enjoyed it. There are plenty of nice campsites, and it gives you access to a good selection of 14ers: our first day we summited Harvard and Columbia, second day we summited Missouri, and third day summited Oxford and Belford. I really enjoyed the grassy slopes we took up Harvard (North Slopes route); note that it does require some route-finding. Missouri was a fairly straight-forward and enjoyable hike (South Ridge route). I don't recommend Oxford's South Slopes route, as it required alot of bushwacking.

You can access several lakes via the Pine Creek trail--we didn't take the trail that far, but it looked like a pretty basin. The Pine Creek trail was a pleasant backpack--not too rocky, well-graded. If you'd like to see more details about our trip, check out:
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