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Longs Peak for First 14er?

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby DanielL » Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:56 pm

TallGrass wrote:
peter303 wrote:There used to be a page somewhere on this website polling "first 14er" climbed. Longs was always in the top three and hardest of the top ten.

I remember seeing something like that too but couldn't find it.


You can see 14er checklist statistics here: http://www.14ers.com/php14ers/usrpeaksstat.php - Longs is third in the 1st 14er Climbed category.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby LuLuLuv » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:24 pm

I personally wouldn't recommend it for a first timer.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby DArcyS » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:40 pm

MountainMedic wrote:Even if you stay in Boulder for a week before the climb, you're likely (70% on Longs in one study) to have altitude issues once you get to 10,000 ft. A friend of mine tried this and turned around at the Boulder Field (~12,000 ft; vomiting with awful AMS), and he was in excellent shape.


I'm sorry, but I find this study to be questionable. Is this consistent with what we see on the ski slopes with destination skiers who arrive at DIA and are on the slopes the next day? I think I've heard about 20% of destination skiers are affected by altitude. By this study's implication, 70% of Denverites who drive to Leadville can expect to have altitude issues. I guess I'd be interested to know exactly how the researcher defined an "altitude issue," and if it was defined to inflate the percentage to enhance the findings and thereby bolster the study's alleged significance.

Here's something perhaps more relevant: http://www.rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/#summit_climbs

RMI runs 4-day and 5-day trips up Ranier. With the 5-day trip, they spend two nights at 10,000'. They've been doing this a long, long time and must feel comfortable with the acclimization issue (noting the 4-day trip involves even less time up high). They wouldn't do this if 70% of their participants were likely to vomit and suffer awful AMS. Naturally, the more time you spend up high, the better your odds.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby IkeB » Mon Feb 18, 2013 9:47 pm

Its not that bad as long as you are prepared for it. I don't see a need for it to be a multi day peak either

Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby forbins_mtn » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:12 pm

i couldn't imagine sleeping in the boulderfield. just seems like a horribly wasted night's sleep.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby Tortoise1 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 10:35 pm

Whether Long's is your first, second or tenth 14er is inconsequential. Inexperienced, tired climbers are much more prone to mistakes, especially if not properly acclimated. Climb Grays or Bierstadt first, then make the call on Longs. Just don't come until you can have enough time to do it properly and safely.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby MountainMedic » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:06 pm

inthemtns wrote:
MountainMedic wrote:Even if you stay in Boulder for a week before the climb, you're likely (70% on Longs in one study) to have altitude issues once you get to 10,000 ft. A friend of mine tried this and turned around at the Boulder Field (~12,000 ft; vomiting with awful AMS), and he was in excellent shape.


I'm sorry, but I find this study to be questionable. Is this consistent with what we see on the ski slopes with destination skiers who arrive at DIA and are on the slopes the next day? I think I've heard about 20% of destination skiers are affected by altitude. By this study's implication, 70% of Denverites who drive to Leadville can expect to have altitude issues. I guess I'd be interested to know exactly how the researcher defined an "altitude issue," and if it was defined to inflate the percentage to enhance the findings and thereby bolster the study's alleged significance.

Here's something perhaps more relevant: http://www.rmiguides.com/mt-rainier/#summit_climbs

RMI runs 4-day and 5-day trips up Ranier. With the 5-day trip, they spend two nights at 10,000'. They've been doing this a long, long time and must feel comfortable with the acclimization issue (noting the 4-day trip involves even less time up high). They wouldn't do this if 70% of their participants were likely to vomit and suffer awful AMS. Naturally, the more time you spend up high, the better your odds.


Altitude illnesses are physiologically complicated, and I often get myself into trouble on this forum trying to explain them. I simply don't have the time to explain every caveat, but I am not pulling things out of my ass. I'm pulling them out of well-respected medical texts.

6,000 ft is not 10,000 ft, and 10,000 ft is not 14,000 ft. As a matter of fact, there's a 4,000 ft difference. RMI clients aren't acclimating at 6K, they're acclimating at 10K. 10,000 ft is a common threshold for altitude issues and is thus often used as an acclimation elevation for higher ascents. Going from 6K-14K in a matter of hours is vastly more stressful than going from 6-10 or 10-14. I think this is pretty obvious and does not warrant further explanation. You also neglect things like physical expenditure, time at altitude, recent trips to altitude (studies show that 2-4 days spent at high altitude can lend to acclimation up to two months later), etc.

Presumably, the OP will be coming from near sea level in WI. "Compared with persons living at lower altitude, residents from 900m (3000 ft) or above reduced the incidence of AMS from 27% to 8% when ascending to between 2000 and 3000 m (6562-9843 ft) in Colorado." (Auerbach p11). Thus, the OP has over a 300% greater chance of getting AMS in the TH parking lot than someone who lives in CO. So if someone from CO does Longs as their first 14er, they are much less likely to get AMS than someone from, say, WI, who does Longs as their first 14er.

Susceptibility is obviously a considerable factor. What most people don't know is that susceptibility to altitude illnesses is largely genetic, with fitness having little to no effect. So if the OP is fit, while it will make the climb much easier (just as it would at a lower elevation), it won't eliminate or even really decrease chance of AMS. One study (Schneider, Bernash, and Weymann, Med Sci Sports Exerc 34, 2002), shows AMS prevalence to be 60% in susceptible and 30% in non-susceptible subjects who ascended to 10,000 ft with fewer than 4 days ascent and five days "preexposure," while these numbers decreased to ~7% and 4% with ascent >3 days and preexposure >5 days. So, a couple extra days' acclimation greatly decreases the chances of feeling like crap during a climb. ''

I can track down more studies to support what I'm saying, but I doubt you want that. I think my motives for keeping jargon out of it are apparent - it's boring and takes up your time to read and my time to write. If anybody has specific questions pertaining to any of this, please PM me and I can get you some links to studies.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby John Landers » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:07 pm

beckygluc wrote:All that said, we think Longs Peak looks like the coolest 14er and want to hike it this upcoming August. We're prepared to exercise and get in shape for the hike. Do you think this peak is too challenging for a first 14er? What exercises should we be doing to prepare for the climb?

I know they rank the mountains from easiest to hardest on this site, but we've been looking at Longs Peak for a long time now and have been hearing all sorts of cool stories about it. Also, my dad isn't getting any younger--it would be cool to achieve Longs Peak now rather than wait a few more years, as his heath may start to deteriorate.



I lot of people have done / attempted Longs as their first 14er.

You can come to hike in Colorado as free men (or woman), and free you are. What will you do with that freedom? Will you hike? Aye, hike and you may die, stay in Wisconsin and eat fried food and you’ll live. At least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come to Colorado and face your dream and know that it may take our lives, but it can never take our freedom!

Hiiiiiiiiiike!

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby MountainMedic » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:16 pm

Ah, hell. Just fly on in and go for it. Most airplanes are pressurized equivalent to an altitude of 6,000 ft or so, so you should be adequately acclimated when you land. PINK FONT PINK FONT.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby wildlobo71 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:20 pm

MountainMedic wrote:Ah, hell. Just fly on in and go for it. Most airplanes are pressurized equivalent to an altitude of 6,000 ft or so, so you should be adequately acclimated when you land.


Finally - take your own advice and get out here, gimpy.
Bill W.
Yes, I have my Scotch.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby mattyanderson26 » Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:55 pm

I took my girlfriend on Longs as her first 14er. She's now my ex. 'Nuff Said. Don't do it. Bierstadt, Quandary, and Sherman are far better 1st time 14ers.

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Re: Longs Peak for First 14er?

Postby John Landers » Tue Feb 19, 2013 12:12 am

At MountainMedic – I agree with your explanation of altitude sickness and you kept it simple and straightforward.

For the OP or anyone, my point, if I have one, is a person can’t make a rational decision to go on an adventure. The European explorers would never have crossed the oceans, Lewis and Clark would have stayed in St. Louis, man would have never left earth, and the dude never would have jumped from a balloon from 120,000 or so feet breaking the sound barrier.

Life is short and tomorrow isn’t guaranteed. Follow your dreams and see where they take you. Take some risk. As far as Longs Peak goes, get in shape, come to Colorado, stay in Estes Park a couple of nights if possible, and hydrate and hydrate. Then go for it. Be prepared to turn around if someone in your party does not feel well. Pay attention to the weather. Enjoy the journey and the moment.

Inthemtns, your right in that RMI has been running a lot of trips up Rainier for a long time. With a fairly high failure rate as so many people are not used to the altitude and the mountain environment. I am not saying they have high instances of altitude sickness. But a lot of their clients just get gassed. When I went up the standard route with two friends from Colorado we were used to the altitude from our training. For all of the people that RMI had on the mountain and that left 10,000 feet at zero dark thirty, maybe one client made the summit. Our party of three were the only others to make it that day.

Going up Longs in the summer is a lot easier than going up Rainier. A lot more people are successful on their first time out on Longs.

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