Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

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Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by cablock4 » Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:32 pm

Hi there! I was wondering if anyone had suggestions on a good first 14er for my 8 year old. Looking for one with wide trail and not a tricky descent (is there such a thing :-D I have only done Pikes Peak. so any advice would be appreciated! I have been eyeballing Democrat and Sherman. I was wondering why Democrat was a class 2? Sorry if my questions are silly! Thanks again!
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by Wentzl » Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:37 pm


8 year olds are impressed with superlatives. It is the highest. Also very 8 year old friendly.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by Pcypher » Wed Jul 22, 2020 5:41 pm

My kids did Sherman and Democrat for their firsts and loved them. Can be windy. Democrat is a 2 probably because Trail can be steep in parts...but my daughter did it just fine at 4 👍 also handies can be a good first with a trip so I’ve heard (saving it for last). Princeton was doable from towers also with a group ranging 6-12 years old last year.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by SephTR » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:47 pm

attempted sherman as an 8 year old and it was a good peak to start on
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by jmanner » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:49 pm

I wouldn’t do it. Seems like there are lower elevation mountains of similar difficulty which would be objectively more fun for a kiddo. I.e. Bear and/or South Boulder Pk
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by Ptglhs » Wed Jul 22, 2020 6:54 pm

Sherman is the second easiest 14er in my opinion. Eight-year-olds don't have the same level of depth perception /ability to judge slope that adults do (usually kicks in about 10) so he or she may not blink an eye at the one or two little exposed Parts on the ridge. None of them are "easy" and saying something is the easiest 14er is a bit like saying you're the thinnest kid at fat camp.

A couple of parts of democrat are loose and Steep, but it may also have been a Class 2 before CFI did some of the work to make the trail more sustainable. Saying something is a difficult class 1 versus an easy class 2 is meaningless in my opinion. The mountains don't come stamped with a number so people just use their consensus judgment on what class a mountain route should be.
Last edited by Ptglhs on Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by Conor » Wed Jul 22, 2020 7:28 pm

14er, no 14er, class 2 vs class 1. I think this matters very little to an 8 year old. The biggest issue will most likely be the amount of whining you have to endure. I know every kid is different, but my 6 year old whines very little but my 8 year old whines and complains a ton. She's also starting to talk back which the 6 year old doesn't do too much. I had to promise - goldfish at the top, ice cream afterwards and woody's pizza for dinner to get them to the top (and down without complaining). Not to mention a fruit by the foot rest stop. They actually had a blast coming down.

They both said the highlight was sitting in the rock wind wall at the top and when asked the next day, they both shared they had fun overall and would like to go hiking again. To me, it's all about ending on a high note. My 8 year old wasn't very interested in skiing initially, but I kept the stops at cold stone on the way home consistent and now she begs to go skiing every chance she can (only got 17 days last year, so not a ton). If they shared that they didn't have fun, we'd try again next year.

My buddy swears bringing a friend reduces the whining significantly.

I personally think Sherman is an excellent idea as it tends to be a little less busy than kite lake. Other ideas are Mt Flora (I did last week with my 6 & 8 year old), Santa Fe, Siverheels (south side), James (kingston) which all have class 1 "trails" and you can get reasonably close if you have a true 4wd (flora is paved the whole way to the trailhead, but it will be busy).
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by mtree » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:16 am

Mt. Sherman. There are lots of side trips, distractions, etc. with all the mining ruins. Too bad the Hilltop building collapsed. That was something. Sherman can be windy so be prepared. I agree the younger they are they less they are afraid of heights, steeps, and loose rock. Doesn't phase them one bit. If the complaining gets above the fun meter to where its just unbearable, abandon ship. Not worth it and they may NEVER want to go back.

Hopefully you're not the type of parent who will push them to the summit no matter what just so you can post it on your Facebook page and brag incessantly how awesome your kids are. Save that for Little League or beauty pageants.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by robinbk » Thu Jul 23, 2020 1:58 pm

Sherman was the first 14er I tried to climb with my daughter, when she was 6. (For reference: we got to 13K before she nixed it. At age 8 we got to 13.9K on Humboldt before hail nixed it. Two weeks ago, at age 12, we finally got it all right and tagged Handies, Redcloud, and Columbia for her first three 14er summits.)

It's not a *bad* choice per se -- the standard route is short and the trailhead is high -- but the trail gets pretty grungy and scree-slippery around 13K. My 6-year old stopped enjoying it, and bailed, because of that and the wind. I can't remember whether Democrat has equivalent levels of slippyness (although the Bross descent is plenty gross), but IIRC Quandary is pretty solid and benign.

If you do Sherman, consider bringing trekking poles short enough for the kid? On our recent trip, my 12-yo appropriated my poles almost immediately when we got to the steep bits, and I suspect they may have been key.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by JQDivide » Thu Jul 23, 2020 2:06 pm

Sherman is great choice... it's short.
But there are other options, 13er Igloo on Indy Pass is extremely easy. Cupid is good too.

It really depends on the kid.

One word of advice... it can't be about the summit. Go knowing, more than likely, you will not reach it. And that's OK. Weather, going slow, wind, just having a bad time, etc. The tolerance for those things is limited when hiking with kids. That's just part of it.

Take cool snacks. Get them their own water bottle. Make it fun.
The 14er Bingo game could be fun to do on the hike. (Search this site for that.)

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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by nickm » Thu Jul 23, 2020 3:48 pm

I have 2 boys 8 & 11 now with well over 100 summits here in CO. We have used methods mentioned, treats, special snacks, candy (summit sucker) etc. Do a bit of research on the history or geology of the area to be able to have a conversation of interest along the way. (passes time and educates them on your slog up) A mine to check out on the way down is always a plus!
If you prepare properly, any of the mentioned mountains can be great first 14ers.
Things to consider:
1) Are you acclimated? Be sure to do some hiking, or an easier peak in the 12K range first if possible.
2) Hydration: Make sure you child drinks enough water or gatorade. We use both. It can be hard to tell the difference between dehydration and altitude sickness.
3) Understand that they will be slower than you. Factor that in your start time! This is monsoon season, more than likely there will be afternoon storms that you want nothing to do with. Start early, finish early. Other benefits to starting early: much cooler, better chance to see wildlife! I have always joked that the boys will stay by our side in the dark no matter how fast we hike. lol
4) There are always times that are hard or suck. Knowing that and being prepared to deal with it is key. Its typically short lived and definitely soon forgotten. Don't hesitate to stop and have one of those special treats. Pushing through the hard times is a great life lesson and confidence booster.
5) A good night sleep is a must.
6) A good meal the night before, pasta! Did I say pasta? Pasta
7) Teach them proper trail etiquette. Example: When your small child steps off the trail for for an uphill hiker it can land them much needed praise from fellow hikers. I feel praise for what they are doing from a fellow hiker is a big confidence booster. Praise other kids if you see them. Plus teaching them good etiquette will make them feel more connected and better stewards of the land.
8) Make sure they are dressed properly. Layers! Winter hat/gloves for in the morning. I have found they are more comfortable with an extra layer than I am. Sunscreen & sunglasses.
9) I would advise not making them carry a backpack for your first peak. Test the waters down the road.
10) Don't throw rocks, ever!
11) Make sure you are versed with the trailhead and route. Especially in the dark.
12) Be sure to print those pictures out and hang them proudly.
13) Have fun its the best quality time you can spend together!!
Good luck,
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by ltlFish99 » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:03 pm

I have a biased opinion because Torreys was my 1st 14er, and i have repeated it many times.

I thought the old hotel was very cool to check out one day, with newspapers from the 1930ies on the inside walls. It might be gone now??

And rarely have I been up there when there were not a good number of goats.

One day an entire group was there just below the saddle, including 4 or 5 tiny little ones.
It was delightful. But I'm a big fan of such simple things and would imagine a younger person would find these creatures fun.
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