Snow and 14ers?

Colorado peak questions, condition requests and other info.
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JustinCrounse
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Snow and 14ers?

Post by JustinCrounse » Fri May 14, 2021 11:18 pm

Hello. My friend and I are eager to get out and climb. We want to do as many 14ers as we can this summer and are trying to figure out a way to do some in May. Are there any that would be realistic without snow gear before June? If not, any recommendations on what to buy to climb. Would crampons be enough?
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CaptainSuburbia
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by CaptainSuburbia » Fri May 14, 2021 11:48 pm

Keep an eye on the conditions page. It is your best friend this time of the year. You'll likely be able to do Quandary and Bierstadt with just spikes. Looks like there's another foot or so of new snow coming, but those peaks (especially Quandary) get tracked out quick. You still might have to deal with minimal postholing in a few short sections though. Early starts help alleviate this. Crampons would be overkill.
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pvnisher
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by pvnisher » Sat May 15, 2021 5:35 am

If you need crampons you need to know wtf you're doing.
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JChitwood
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by JChitwood » Sat May 15, 2021 12:16 pm

pvnisher wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 5:35 am
If you need crampons you need to know wtf you're doing.
Gotta start somewhere. How did you figure out wtf you’re doing?
"I'll make it." - Jimmy Chitwood
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Cruiser
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by Cruiser » Sat May 15, 2021 12:44 pm

If I'm carrying crampons then I'm also carrying an ice axe. Others may not, but I'm always reluctant to venture onto steep snow without a way to stop sliding if I happen to get started.
Where ever you are... There you are.
pvnisher
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by pvnisher » Sat May 15, 2021 4:58 pm

JChitwood wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 12:16 pm
pvnisher wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 5:35 am
If you need crampons you need to know wtf you're doing.
Gotta start somewhere. How did you figure out wtf you’re doing?
Internet research is a start. Books, class, guide. Practice safe area.

I've seen people put crampons on, for the first time ever, in a pretty precarious area. That's not the time to figure it out.
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nyker
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by nyker » Sat May 15, 2021 5:18 pm

JChitwood wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 12:16 pm
pvnisher wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 5:35 am
If you need crampons you need to know wtf you're doing.
Gotta start somewhere. How did you figure out wtf you’re doing?
Best place to start is on a gentle snowslope in a safe area with minimal consequence if you slip (i.e. not above any rock piles, cliffs, ice sheets etc.). RMNP has a few spots for this, or the lower reaches of a mountain nearby. Get used to basic walking up and down the snow, trying not to catch your opposite pant leg, french technique, duck walk, turning, etc. Once you're comfortable on a gentle slope, increase the steepness to practice on, again being mindful of the minimizing the consequence of slipping. Add in ice axe use, walking with an axe, and the 4 basic self arrest moves and you'll be off to a good start to tackle some easier peaks in snow. You can practice yourself or with an experienced partner, or hire a guide for basic snow travel skills or do a one day snow mountaineering course. One note, if you plan on glissading, remove your crampons or spikes...
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nyker
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by nyker » Sat May 15, 2021 5:43 pm

JustinCrounse wrote:
Fri May 14, 2021 11:18 pm
...If not, any recommendations on what to buy to climb. Would crampons be enough?
Sorry, I missed your question:

...Grivel, Petzl, CAMP and Black Diamond all make both lower end basic 10pt crampons as well as more aggressive longer forged steel models for ice climbing. You can get buy with basic 10-12 point steel crampons from any of them.
I like the hybrid models (which have a strap in front and clip in back) or if you boots support them, two clip models, but if you use these you need boots with a rear welt or rear and front welts to hold them. If you don't have a mountaineering boot, just get the full strapped version which should fit most other hiking/mountaineering boots. Aluminum versions are available and are lighter if that's your chief concern, but are more expensive and less durable. They are ok for pure snow where no mixed terrain with dull them faster. I've broken an aluminum point where I've never broken a steel point on a steel crampon.

Some people only use a microspike type traction and they do have their place on many hikes and trail running and are cheaper at $50-$60, but on the vast majority of mountains personally I'll opt for a real crampon vs. spikes. Am sure someone will chime in and say spikes are all you need, to each is own. I got my mom a pair of microspikes for walking on the sidewalk in winter, they are ideal for that.

For an axe, if you ask 10 people you'll probably get as many answers. The same brands above make axes. For most snow climbs on the standard routes, a traditionally longer shafted axe is generally preferred, 66cm-75cm depending on your height and other factors, arm length, hand to ankle length, etc..(they are sold by and measured in cm not inches). Some like to go to 55-58cm in a semi technical axe if steeper terrain is expected. Any decent mountaineering shop will help make sure you get the right one.

You can buy both used if they are not too worn out and dull, otherwise get them new. You can usually get some discount to get these...Full retail of ~$100-$175 for crampons, $50-$175 for an axe.

If you are planning on doing more peaks in snow, then get better quality gear. If you only see yourself doing 1-2 snow climbs on easier peaks and then you'll never use the stuff again, maybe you can rent the gear from REI, but get some training in their use first.
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14er101
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by 14er101 » Sat May 15, 2021 7:03 pm

If you need to buy crampons you need to already have an idea of what to do. I hit Elbert today and all you needed was some warm(ish) layers, hiking poles, and snowshoes (which provide traction and flotation)
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davisrice4
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by davisrice4 » Sat May 15, 2021 10:57 pm

JChitwood wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 12:16 pm
pvnisher wrote:
Sat May 15, 2021 5:35 am
If you need crampons you need to know wtf you're doing.
Gotta start somewhere. How did you figure out wtf you’re doing?
by doing things and it feeling like this ](*,)
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Jorts
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Re: Snow and 14ers?

Post by Jorts » Sun May 16, 2021 7:14 am

St Mary's has some great spots to both hurl your body down the slope to practice self-arrest and to practice climbing in crampons.

It's really not that difficult. Just takes a little familiarity with technique/gear and occasional practice. If you plan to be on truly firm, steep slopes, might be worth learning how to place pickets too.
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