Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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zackrobinson2
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by zackrobinson2 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 6:54 pm

Bill G wrote:But if there's a call for snow on the day you start out you have two choices. 1) Don't go or 2) Make sure your will is up to date.
Maybe I missed the sarcasm tag, but I don't understand this. People climb routes like Quandary during snow storms all the time, and the vast majority live to tell about it. Obviously, that sort of endeavor is a different thing than following the line of tourists up the standard route in July, but it isn't as though one is guaranteed death simply by attempting a mountain like that in the winter.

So long as one avoids avalanche terrain, which can for the most part be done on routes like that, climbing them any time of year isn't that extreme of an undertaking. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first 14er for most people, but it is far from a "If it snows that day, you'll die" sort of proposition.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by Scott P » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:15 pm

zackrobinson2 wrote:
Bill G wrote:But if there's a call for snow on the day you start out you have two choices. 1) Don't go or 2) Make sure your will is up to date.
Maybe I missed the sarcasm tag, but I don't understand this. People climb routes like Quandary during snow storms all the time, and the vast majority live to tell about it. Obviously, that sort of endeavor is a different thing than following the line of tourists up the standard route in July, but it isn't as though one is guaranteed death simply by attempting a mountain like that in the winter.

So long as one avoids avalanche terrain, which can for the most part be done on routes like that, climbing them any time of year isn't that extreme of an undertaking. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first 14er for most people, but it is far from a "If it snows that day, you'll die" sort of proposition.
Yes, this.

Wind is a bigger problem than snow. Driving can be sketchy, but climbing the mountains mention is reasonable when it snows. If visibility is poor, you need to be extra careful to stay on route though.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by justiner » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:23 pm

zackrobinson2 wrote:
Bill G wrote:But if there's a call for snow on the day you start out you have two choices. 1) Don't go or 2) Make sure your will is up to date.
Maybe I missed the sarcasm tag, but I don't understand this. People climb routes like Quandary during snow storms all the time, and the vast majority live to tell about it. Obviously, that sort of endeavor is a different thing than following the line of tourists up the standard route in July, but it isn't as though one is guaranteed death simply by attempting a mountain like that in the winter.

So long as one avoids avalanche terrain, which can for the most part be done on routes like that, climbing them any time of year isn't that extreme of an undertaking. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first 14er for most people, but it is far from a "If it snows that day, you'll die" sort of proposition.
Yeah, this isn't well-formed thinking. Call up the local SAR for Summit County, and ask about how many calls they get for an "easy" 14er like Quandary in the summertime. The reason people live even when they screw up is sometimes because of them.

Ya gotta respect the mountain, friend.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by zackrobinson2 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:40 pm

justiner wrote:
zackrobinson2 wrote:
Bill G wrote:But if there's a call for snow on the day you start out you have two choices. 1) Don't go or 2) Make sure your will is up to date.
Maybe I missed the sarcasm tag, but I don't understand this. People climb routes like Quandary during snow storms all the time, and the vast majority live to tell about it. Obviously, that sort of endeavor is a different thing than following the line of tourists up the standard route in July, but it isn't as though one is guaranteed death simply by attempting a mountain like that in the winter.

So long as one avoids avalanche terrain, which can for the most part be done on routes like that, climbing them any time of year isn't that extreme of an undertaking. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first 14er for most people, but it is far from a "If it snows that day, you'll die" sort of proposition.
Yeah, this isn't well-formed thinking. Call up the local SAR for Summit County, and ask about how many calls they get for an "easy" 14er like Quandary in the summertime. The reason people live even when they screw up is sometimes because of them.

Ya gotta respect the mountain, friend.
I'm not sure how what I said was in conflict with that. Unprepared people die doing mundane stuff in the mountains all the time. That doesn't mean that climbing 14ers in the winter is a death sentence.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by justiner » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:45 pm

It's a bad mindset for a, "Wanting to bag my first 14er" beginner.


But what do I know?
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by Audie » Wed Oct 10, 2018 7:50 pm

Leave the Bag at home.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by zackrobinson2 » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:00 pm

justiner wrote:It's a bad mindset for a, "Wanting to bag my first 14er" beginner.


But what do I know?
I think you might be misunderstanding my point. I am not advocating that anyone think "Snow on 14ers in winter is no big deal...it will be fine." I am saying that climbing 14ers in winter does not necessarily entail death. There is a wide gulf between "It'll be fine, who cares" and "If you go when it is snowing, you will die." I don't think beginners should start by climbing 14ers in the snow or in any winter-like season at all, which is what I said in my first post. But saying "either don't go or make sure your will is in order" is a bit extreme. Preparation becomes much more involved and important when the snow is falling up high, but that preparation can make those sorts of things viable propositions.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by Scott P » Wed Oct 10, 2018 8:01 pm

justiner wrote:It's a bad mindset for a, "Wanting to bag my first 14er" beginner.


But what do I know?
Yes, good point for a beginner.

In general, though, and for more experienced climbers, climbing when it snows is not a death wish.

Anyway, to the original poster, I'd suggest going with someone experienced. There should be plenty of willing partners available on this website.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by TomPierce » Wed Oct 10, 2018 9:40 pm

You can certainly climb in a snowstorm, and live to tell about it, but some things to consider:

-As you climb up, you'll be generating a lot of heat, not to mention the relative humidity will be higher. So that falling snow will probably stick, at least partially, on your clothes and hair. With your produced heat, it melts, which eventually leads to damp clothes/hair, etc. If it gets colder, not good. You can mitigate this by hiking up in your shell, but be sure to peel down a layer or two underneath, otherwise you'll overheat and lead to a damp base layer. Also not good. Not just miserable after a bit of time, potentially dangerous if the temp really drops or you stop generating heat, ie become immobile.

-Falling snow might obscure your track up, making the descent potentially confusing. So too with blowing snow, aka a whiteout. Probably not a bad idea to have some compass bearings written down beforehand based on fixed landmarks, e.g. 87 degrees E off the top of Quandary will get you going in the right direction (don't rely on that, but I think it's close...).

-Be particularly cautious if near slide terrain. Always remember: You can't avoid what you can't see. In heavy snowfall you might easily drift off route into slide terrain, just be aware of the risk.

-You'll probably appreciate glasses or no-fog goggles with a lighter (eg yellow lense). Blowing snow in the eyes is annoying to say the least.

IMO you can hike in a snowstorm, but I often find it annoying and might abort for another day. But do-able. It just adds a layer of risk, think it through. Have a fun & safe time on your trip.

-Tom
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by nunns » Thu Oct 11, 2018 8:20 am

zackrobinson2 wrote:
Bill G wrote:But if there's a call for snow on the day you start out you have two choices. 1) Don't go or 2) Make sure your will is up to date.
Maybe I missed the sarcasm tag, but I don't understand this. People climb routes like Quandary during snow storms all the time, and the vast majority live to tell about it. Obviously, that sort of endeavor is a different thing than following the line of tourists up the standard route in July, but it isn't as though one is guaranteed death simply by attempting a mountain like that in the winter.

So long as one avoids avalanche terrain, which can for the most part be done on routes like that, climbing them any time of year isn't that extreme of an undertaking. I probably wouldn't recommend it as a first 14er for most people, but it is far from a "If it snows that day, you'll die" sort of proposition.
The vast majority of people who do even fairly dangerous things live through them. Doesn't mean they are safe. Estimating 250,000 people climbing 14ers every year (+ or - who knows how many), and an average of 12 die. That's a survival rate of 99.99995%. But if you analyse the 12, usually several of them are in non-standard conditions. Climbing your first 14er, solo, over Thanksgiving would definitely qualify as non-standard conditions. I am not saying the OP is going to die if he attempts this; probably not. But the risk/benefit ratio is too high if I were him.
And to agree with what Justiner says, one reason that a lot more people don't die on mountains is because of SAR. I pray to God that I will never need SAR, but I thank God (and SAR) that SAR exists. Personally I see it as my responsibility to make sure I do everything I reasonably can to minimize THEIR risk.

Sean Nunn
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by mtree » Thu Oct 11, 2018 9:20 am

Zack, you obviously missed the subtle sarcasm. You need to get out and see people more, but today is not the day. Return to your room and don't come out until called upon. And no Far Cry tonight!

To the OP, as I said and others have explained, the margin for error in late November gets very thin. Plan accordingly and don't do anything stupid.
- I didn't say it was your fault. I said I was blaming you.
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Re: Wanting to bag my first 14er over Thanksgiving.

Post by zackrobinson2 » Thu Oct 11, 2018 11:05 am

mtree wrote:Zack, you obviously missed the subtle sarcasm. You need to get out and see people more, but today is not the day. Return to your room and don't come out until called upon. And no Far Cry tonight!
I'm 34, own my own house, have no idea what Far Cry is and spend little time on online forums. I was clear up front that I may have missed the sarcasm. Sarcasm is often easy to detect in the real world but tough to detect online.
nunns wrote:
zackrobinson2 wrote: The vast majority of people who do even fairly dangerous things live through them. Doesn't mean they are safe. Estimating 250,000 people climbing 14ers every year (+ or - who knows how many), and an average of 12 die. That's a survival rate of 99.99995%. But if you analyse the 12, usually several of them are in non-standard conditions. Climbing your first 14er, solo, over Thanksgiving would definitely qualify as non-standard conditions. I am not saying the OP is going to die if he attempts this; probably not. But the risk/benefit ratio is too high if I were him.
And to agree with what Justiner says, one reason that a lot more people don't die on mountains is because of SAR. I pray to God that I will never need SAR, but I thank God (and SAR) that SAR exists. Personally I see it as my responsibility to make sure I do everything I reasonably can to minimize THEIR risk.

Sean Nunn
I didn't say it was safe. "Safe" is a relative word that depends on the individual's experience and preparation. I just said that climbing in snow doesn't equal death, and I think your stats support that.

I'm not sure what the SAR discussion has to do with anything I've said. It seems people here think I said "Climbing 14ers in a blizzard in winter is a perfectly fine thing for a beginner to do" or that I was recommending the OP climb a 14er in November even if it is snowing. I didn't.
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