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

FAQ and threads for those just starting to hike the Colorado 14ers.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by huffy13 » Fri Jul 24, 2020 9:42 pm

Grays and Torreys were my son's first 14ers when he was 11, they are a fun, easy hike. Quandary is what I would consider kid friendly, by 14er standards anyway. Sherman from the east is pretty easy, good trail and large summit, plus there is a lot of cool mining history that your kid might find interesting. Elbert is the tallest, it's a long slog, but there isn't any real exposure and the trail is easy to follow the entire time. Handies is also great for a first timer as long as you are comfortable driving on narrow unpaved mountain roads, but if you are from the front range region that is a long drive. Not sure that I'd recommend Democrat for a first timer, it's not as fun and, if memory serves me right, there was more loose rock on it than these others.
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: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by blazintoes » Fri Jul 24, 2020 10:18 pm

DadMikes kid just did it and he’s 6?? Now that kid has an unfair advantage because DadMike is supernatural but Bierstadt has a cool name, is the shortest round trip length, has amazing views and the TH starts at a higher elevation than Sherman or Democrat so your kid will be able to tell you how they feel at elevation at the trail head. The place is busy on weekends so go early or late with good weather. Brings goldfish snacks!

Sherman is another good choice but a bit boring and Democrat has bigger rocks to navigate for a little buddy and Kite Lake is a much smaller TH so, hard to get a spot on a busy weekend.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by ronxhill » Mon Jul 27, 2020 6:49 am

As others have said, there are a lot of factors to consider, but you didn't ask about that so there's no need to elaborate. For your straight forward question of Democrat vs. Sherman, I would vote for Sherman. Whenever I have had friends visit who want to do a 14er, I've gone to Sherman. There's old mining equipment on the road up towards the saddle.

My advice for Sherman is do not attempt it from the Leadville side. My daughter picked that because it was the shortest route (shorter=steeper). Once we reached the saddle and she saw she could have walked most of the way up on a road, she wished she had picked that side. Probably 3/4 of the trips up Sherman were in very windy conditions once you reach the saddle, with sleet one time. So, be sure to bring something to protect against the wind.
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by nunns » Mon Jul 27, 2020 3:59 pm

Definitely choose a mountain that you have already climbed. You don't want to be emotionally invested yourself in getting to the summit.
If they want to turn around prior to the top, let them (OK, maybe not if you're 50 feet from the top). Forcing a kid to get to the summit is a great way to spoil the fun for them.
My favorite phrase when my daughter was little was "we can turn around any time that you want to." She never did choose to but the option was there. She is 18 now, halfway through the 14ers, and still loves it.
Don't confuse a little whining with wanting to give up; those are 2 different things.
Sorry none of that answers your question. My pick would be Sherman, but be aware that the standard route usually has a stout headwind at least part of the way. Plenty of warm clothes, and a hat and gloves.

Sean Nunn
"Thy righteousness is like the great mountains." --Psalms 36:6
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Re: Advice for first 14er with an 8 year old--Democrat or Sherman?

Post by MarcD71 » Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:40 pm

My 10 year old and I just did Quandary as his first 14er summit a couple weeks ago and it is a kid-friendly one I’d recommend. Other than good snacks and luckily seeing cool wildlife, two things I think really helped. 1) I “prepped” him a lot beforehand with how long and hard it will be but that when he sees the view from the top and feels that sense of accomplishment it’ll be awesome. He acknowledged the difficulty a few times but never really complained or wanted to quit since he knew to expect that. And 2) above 13k ft he was tiring and wanted to stop often for 5+ minutes at a time. So I had him/us do a modified “rest step” approach, taking just 15-20 steps at a time, then pausing to lock our back leg (resting on skeleton not muscles) for just 5-10 seconds, then repeating and alternating rest legs each time. Made a world of difference and he just kept going all the way to the top. A little more body-aware at 10 vs 8, I know, but hopefully helpful to OP or others reading with kids.
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