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Summer Trip

Colorado 14er peak questions and conditions should be posted here. 14er Trip Reports
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Summer Trip

Postby Stephen Butler » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:07 pm

Hey everyone,

I started climbing 14ers last year and instantly got hooked. I am wanting to make a trip this summer with my younger brother to continue climbing. I was wondering if you guys could provide some feedback for the below proposed trip. Since I am from Arkansas I like to climb as many 14ers as I can since my trips to Colorado are very limited. Let me know if you think we should tackle these mountains in a different order/time of the summer. We are heading to the San Juans this summer. Below is the potential schedule; each line is one day...

Leave for CO after work
Arrive at Handies TH
Climb Handies/Drive to Redcloud TH
Climb Redcloud & Sunshine/Drive to Sneffels TH
Climb Sneffels/Find hotel in Ouray
Rest Day/Drive to Wetterhorn TH
Climb Wetterhorn/Drive to Uncompahgre TH
Climb Uncompahgre/Drive to San Luis TH
Climb San Luis/Leave for LR
Arrive LR


It's pretty intense in terms of the number of mountains in the short time but we will both be in great shape. Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby TravelingMatt » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:18 pm

I'd do San Luis first. It's a shorter drive from Arkansas (!) and will serve as a good test of the shape you're in. After summiting you are set up nicely for dinner in Lake City and car camping at one of the Cinammon Pass Road THs.

Driving from Arkansas and hiking a 14er the next day sounds a little ambitious, although I've run into people on summits who have driven further to climb much harder stuff. Personally I'd want an extra day to rest, acclimate, stock up on supplies and plan the whole trip.
So pleas'd at first the towering Alps we try,
Mount o'er the vales, and seem to tread the sky,
Th' increasing prospects tire our wand'ring eyes,
Hills peep o'er hills, and Alps on Alps arise!
-- Alexander Pope

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby rijaca » Thu Mar 21, 2013 7:25 pm

It's reasonable if you don't have altitude issues. Do Uncompahgre/Wetterhorn after Redcloud/Sunshine, and save Sneffels for after that, and you'll save yourself a bunch a driving. And do San Luis first or last for the same reason.
"Spent a little time on the mountain
Spent a little time on the hill"

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby SchralpTheGnar » Thu Mar 21, 2013 8:46 pm

I'd 2nd doing san luis first, also I'd try to work an extra rest day\camping day in there by doing Uncompagrhe and Wetterhorn in a single day.

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby dmdoug » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:15 pm

I'm planning just about the same trip with coworkers except starting with Sneffels and ending with San Luis. I have done 14ers the morning after arriving from Iowa at 900 ft elevation without any acclimatization issues but I generally try to spend the first day on an easier 13er close to a major town or road so that if someone in my group has an issue with altitude we can descend rapidly. I had to do this once early in the morning for my daughter but as soon as we got down to 8000 ft she was fine so we headed back up and climbed later that afternoon. Plus, I would hate to drive all night and get up some mountain shelf road in the dark only to find out someone forgot their backpack at home or needs moleskin on day 1. At least we'd find out closer to town.

One observation I have is that if you are using the standard THs you are doubling back a few times from Handies TH to Redcloud TH to Sneffels to Wetterhorn. How are you traveling to and from Sneffels? Cinnamon and/or Engineer Pass? Do you have 4WD? Otherwise it's a lot of driving around.

We're starting with Sneffels, then driving down to Silverton to get on the Alpine Loop and attack the 14ers on the loop counterclockwise until we get to Wetterhorn's Matterhorn Creek Trailhead. Depending how we feel and the weather, we will be attempting both Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn on the same day from Matterhorn Creek or we'll hike in a ways and do those over 2 days and add Matterhorn and Broken Hill. I'm considering San Luis a bonus on the way home if we're still healthy and didn't have to take an additional day off for weather.

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby huffy13 » Thu Mar 21, 2013 9:31 pm

You can stay at the Silver Creek/Grizzly Gulch TH and get Handies, Sunshine and Redcloud without having to relocate! It is far more scenic on that side anyways.... great views of Handies, but the descent down on the American Basin side is good and you can loop around on the road around Whitecross Mountain back to the TH. This will save you some drive time since it looks like you are wanting to squeeze a lot in.
Seems like the times that I need a mountain the most are the times that I can not get to them.

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby Dancesatmoonrise » Thu Mar 21, 2013 11:46 pm

Doable, for sure. You've got 7 14ers in essentially 6 days of climbing.

San Luis would be a good first or last one, as it couples well with traveling to or from. Handies can be done in the morning from the TH, and RC/Sun in the afternoon. Wetterhorn/Uncompahgre is a long duo for a day, but doable. Sneff is a bit out of the area, but you could do it on its own day. There's four full days of climbing. That leaves plenty of time in your schedule for fudge factor.

Here's an efficient way to rack up six them:
http://14ers.com/php14ers/tripreport.php?trip=8232


Good luck with your trip. You'll love this place.

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby TallGrass » Fri Mar 22, 2013 12:08 pm

I would NOT spend a day or two "acclimatizing," rather just go for it at your pace, taking breaks (photos?! Snacks/drinks?! \:D/ ) along the way, with both of you paying attention to yourself and other for signs of altitude sickness, HAPE, or HACE, and if you get some that don't improve via breaks or changing pace, turn back and descend just as you would for other conditions that can worsen like incoming weather, territorial/aggressive wildlife, etc. Treat it like a scouting hike and if you get a summit, bonus. Save a "rest day" for when it is actually needed and use it to explore the Alpine Loop (if your vehicle is up for it), Lake City, and so on.

Split up driving shifts so both of you get rest on the way up,
always day pack the 10 Essentials (weather can change quick up there),
drink/pack plenty of water noting where you can filter more on the trail,
buy Trails Illustrated map #141 (nice Zoomify preview on-line) to pack and help plan a good efficient loop (like others have suggested),
print off a route guide for each of you to pack for each intended summit,
and other planning/prep' with good company should make for a great trip!
Not sure if I'll do more 14ers. The trip reports are too tiring. :wink:

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby nyker » Fri Mar 22, 2013 9:47 pm

Ambitious, but your itinerary is possible if you are rested, acclimatized and in good shape and weather is good. If not all of the above, then you should
manage your expectations and plan to do 5 of the 7, which would still be a great trip.

Are you driving from Arkansas or flying into Denver? This will impact some suggestions; as after driving 1000 miles nonstop from the flatlands,
I would not want to go climb a 14er and would need to get my legs a bit first. If you're not feeling it an extra night sleeping at local elevations could help you.
Getting to the San Juans is also a bit of a drive from Denver if you're flying in. Depending how you feel after a climb or two, you may wish to build in a rest day.

Your day when you plan to climb Uncompahgre/Drive to San Luis TH will be a LONG day, especially if you are starting Unc from
the main road and don't have a decent 4wd (16mi r/t), so perhaps do San Luis separate, maybe first since its out of the way;

You might also consider doing Wetterhorn and Unc in gthe same day, then have a rest day before your last peak

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby Stephen Butler » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:24 am

Thanks you all for the suggestions! I will definitely consider changing up the order in which we climb to save some driving time. I have driven from Arkansas and climbed 14ers the next day a couple times and never had trouble with altitude sickness. Of course, that doesn't mean I won't have a different experience next time. We will be sure to take it easy and be safe.

If only it were July...

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby mtnjam » Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:55 am

we drove from Leadville and climbed San Luis and then did the (long) drive to Redcloud - Sunshine - Handies TH
next day climbed Redcloud - Sunshine
climbed Handies from same TH move to Wetterhorn TH
climbed Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn
then we actually went to Chicago Basin

We did not have a 4wd, so we had to stay on moderate roads. Find ways to drive less and climb more. The drive from San Luis to Lake City is long. The drive from Lake City around to Ouray is also very long. Don't know which mountains you have already done, but you might consider doing a couple of mountains from the Sawatch or Sangre de Cristo instead of Sneffles - unless visiting Ouray is part of the allure. Sneffles groups well with the Wilsons.

good luck!

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Re: Summer Trip

Postby Stephen Butler » Sat Mar 23, 2013 11:35 am

mtnjam wrote:we drove from Leadville and climbed San Luis and then did the (long) drive to Redcloud - Sunshine - Handies TH
next day climbed Redcloud - Sunshine
climbed Handies from same TH move to Wetterhorn TH
climbed Uncompahgre and Wetterhorn
then we actually went to Chicago Basin

We did not have a 4wd, so we had to stay on moderate roads. Find ways to drive less and climb more. The drive from San Luis to Lake City is long. The drive from Lake City around to Ouray is also very long. Don't know which mountains you have already done, but you might consider doing a couple of mountains from the Sawatch or Sangre de Cristo instead of Sneffles - unless visiting Ouray is part of the allure. Sneffles groups well with the Wilsons.

good luck!


Thanks for the tips. It may be smart to skip Sneffels this trip and do it with the Wilson group. Ouray was just a place to get a hotel for a night but I wouldn't mind camping out if it means getting another mountain or two. Any advice on which ones in the Sawatch range to do (I've only done Elbert)? I was thinking Tabeguach/Shavano because they are furthest south.

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