First 14ers - October

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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nmjameswilson
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First 14ers - October

Post by nmjameswilson » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:05 pm

I am heading to Colorado to climb Grays and Torreys the first week of October. I have read these forums and prepared equipment wise as best I can. I am from Kansas City and have ran 9 tough mudders and ran a half marathon last week. I am athletic for my 48 years but I am a bit concerned with altitude sickness. Any advice for someone trying a new hobby that he will progress with is appreciated. #ExcitedToSummit
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by rperth » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:23 pm

Sounds like you are good to go fitness wise. I’d read about the symptoms of altitude sickness. If you experience them just know to get to lower elevation ASAP. Great new hobby!! Keep coming back. \:D/
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by peter303 » Sat Sep 15, 2018 12:34 pm

At least three schools of thought in this forum.

1) The fast hike. Get up and down fast before the thin air has a big effect. This seems to work for people who drive the road to the top 14ers. But I tried fast climbing on my first 14er Whitney, 8 hours from sea level Bay area and promptly vomited near the summit, the only time I have done so.

2) Three day acclimatization. Hike something 10-11K day one, 12-13K day two, and 14er day three. This worked much better for me coming from sea level.

3) Drug aids. Thereare some drugs that help such as Diamox and sildenafil citrate. But both have side effects in some people. So I wouldnt use them on 14er first without trying them on some lower altitude.

The moral is 'know thyself'. Approach #2 worked best for me. But others in this forum like the other two approaches.
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by 4thPlaceAtFieldDay » Sat Sep 15, 2018 3:19 pm

Altitude affects everyone differently. I know people who drive out from KC and do a big 14er the next day. Other people it takes a couple days. I'd try it, stay well-hydrated, and if you feel attitude sickness (know the symptons), start heading down. If you are really nervous about it, schedule a day or two at altitude before your hike to get acclimated.
Formerly Lemmiwinks

“If you're bumming out, you're not gonna get to the top, so as long as we're up here we might as well make a point of grooving." -Scott Fischer
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by dtron » Sat Sep 15, 2018 4:17 pm

As mentioned above, altitude affects everyone differently. You should be in good shape as far as fitness. And that will help. I have been traveling to CO for years from MO as well and have found that sleeping the first night at 5000-6000 ft has worked well for myself, family and friends. It’s high enough to get the process started, but not so high that you risk get symptoms from going too high too quick. The CDC has some good info on altitude illness, acclimation strategies and meds/supplements. I’ve never used the latter, but have followed the recommendations with good reaults.
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by PaulVee » Sat Sep 15, 2018 5:08 pm

+1 on the stay the first night at 5-6000 ft. I come from MD every year (which is practically sea level). I try to make the first night in the 7-8K range in fact. Then I try to get out and do a drive or short hike and stay above 10K, maybe 11-12K if possible, for at least a couple of hours the first full day... then back down and sleep again at 7-8K... then by the next day I'm normally good to go for a first 14er hike. Also +1 on the up and down thing. It's a shame you can't stay and do a bit more. I've found that after you do that first one, and THEN you stay a few more days, boy can you tell a difference on subsequent hikes. The acclimatization REALLY starts to kick in and having done recent good hikes, it get noticeably easier. But with your fitness level (I'm older than you and work out but don't do muddlers!), just get at least 24 hrs in as high as you can and you should be good.
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by glenmiz » Sat Sep 15, 2018 6:37 pm

Hydrate the night before, no alcohol. Get a night of sleep at >5000'. Get as much rest the night before as you can.

I disagree with fast up/down. I've seen exertion as a contributor to people having more trouble with the altitude. You're fit but getting above 12,000' will feel different. Find a pace that you can keep going for 30+ and maybe 60 minutes without stopping. Don't worry about people passing you; if you stay within yourself and continue to hydrate in small bites, you have a good chance of being fine. You'll likely have a light headache and probably feel a little dizzy. Getting sick, a heavy fluid-filled cough and disorientation are signals to turn around and get to lower elevation.

Good luck!
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by nmjameswilson » Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:02 am

Thank you everyone for the advice!!

I am staying the night at the trailhead the night before I hike so it sounds like that will help a lot as most have said to stay above 5000. I will probably avoid the meds and hope for the best and will turn around if I have issues.

Thanks again everyone ... I am excited to add this fun new hobby.
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by nyker » Sun Sep 16, 2018 7:36 pm

Love your profile photo there! Tornado...very midwest!

Agree on the idea of not flying in and running to go summit something too quickly and spending a day or two higher up before doing your climb.

Everyone talks about the Class 1 peaks (Grays and Torreys, etc) as "easy" peaks, and they are easy, from a technical viewpoint, "merely" just walking up a big hill. "Easy" however, assumes you're acclimatized and aerobically fit.
...but for folks not used to the altitude therein lies the rub. Assume you also might not get to the actual trailhead and possibly need to park in the I-70 Lot which makes for a longer day also, but nonetheless if you can drive to the actual TH, your day will be much shorter.

some helpful hints:

* Get a good night rest the night before
* Start early to give yourself enough time for unforeseen issues
* Start hydrating when you arrive in CO and keep at it, both water and electrolyte drink
* Pack food you absolutely like, since above 13,000ft while exerting yourself, your appetite will change and what tastes great in the parking lot, might not taste great on a high rest break.
* I like the "go slower" strategy while starting out, many people get AMS symptoms simply by going too fast. Despite what you might read elsewhere, there is not race to get to the summit, don't worry about a PR and FKT, just enjoy the experience.
* Bring cold weather gear as you could always get a cold day and/or snow in October (hat/gloves/insulated layer,shell), an "easy" mountain doesn't mean its immune to bad weather.
* Trekking poles help the descent and will help in event of snow on the trail.
* Mountaineering is all about decision making, don't be afraid to turn around if you're "not feeling it"
* Don't count on your cell phone working
* if as you say this will be a new hobby for you, use this trip to start becoming familiar with a map/compass/gps - you likely won't need it on these peaks since there is a trail to the top of each along with probably 100 other people, but good practice for the new hobby \:D/
Most of all, have fun and enjoy!

-Rob
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nmjameswilson
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by nmjameswilson » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:36 am

Thanks for the detailed post. I will do all that you said.

If you like tornadoes here's one of my favorites photos I have taken. This is THREE tornadoes on the ground at once.
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nmjameswilson
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by nmjameswilson » Mon Sep 17, 2018 6:40 pm

One additional question ... Can you sleep overnight in your vehicle at the Gray/Torrey trailhead?
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Re: First 14ers - October

Post by Scott P » Mon Sep 17, 2018 7:19 pm

nmjameswilson wrote:One additional question ... Can you sleep overnight in your vehicle at the Gray/Torrey trailhead?
Yes.
I'm slow and fat. Unfortunately, those are my good qualities.
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