Monday, June 28, 2010

Where to hike next?

Besides the soreness in my feet, glutes and thighs I have amnesia about my 14er hike yesterday, that is to say I want to conquer my next and as soon as possible at that.

So I've been doing some research online about the various 14ers and I came across some interesting information about what exactly constitutes as a 14er, besides the obvious that they must be at least 14,000+ feet high.

There is a standard in Colorado for what constitutes a separate mountain. This "accepted standard" states that a peak must rise 300 feet above the connecting saddle of a higher "recognized" mountain. Such standards are necessary because otherwise every point on a ridge or even every boulder could be called a "peak". This settles any argument that climbing Torrey's and Gray's in the same day shouldn't be counted for two 14ers because obviously both rise 300 feet above the connecting saddle. Of course they are both nationally recognized as being 14ers it's just that if you climb two in one day you avoid having to do the base climb more than once.

There is also a rule of sorts that states that in order to climb a mountain you must gain 3,000 feet of elevation on foot with no mechanical advantage (car, bicycle, etc.). There are many "relaxed" variations to this rule as well. Quite often it is considered acceptable to say you climbed two mountains if you gained 3,000 feet on foot for one of them and then traversed a connecting ridge to the second peak. Many people consider riding a bicycle up Mt. Evans from Idaho Springs as having climbed the mountain. I say whether it's a bike or your legs that carry you up, you are still putting forth enormous effort and should feel accomplished reaching the peak either way.

Upon contemplating which 14er we should hike next, I found this list which should aid in my decision:
Very Difficult
Mount Wilson 14,246 Capitol Peak 14,130 Pyramid Peak 14,018
Crestone Needle 14,197 Little Bear Peak 14,037 North Maroon Peak 14,014
Crestone Peak 14,294 Maroon Peak 14,156 Windom Peak 14,082
Longs Peak 14,255 Mount Sneffels 14,150 Sunlight Peak 14,059
Kit Carson Mountain 14,165 Snowmass Mountain 14,092 Wilson Peak 14,017
El Diente Peak 14,159 Mount Eolus 14,083 Wetterhorn Peak 14,015
Mount Harvard 14,420 Mount Yale 14,196 Mount Lindsey 14,042
Blanca Peak 14,345 Mount Tabeguache 14,155 Redcloud Peak 14,034
Uncompahgre Peak 14,309 Mount Oxford 14,153 Mount of the Holy Cross 14,005
Castle Peak 14,265 Missouri Mountain 14,067 Sunshine Peak 14,001
Mount Shavano 14,229 Humboldt Peak 14,064
Mount Belford 14,197 Ellingwood Point 14,042
Mount Elbert 14,433 Quandary Peak 14,265 Mount Bierstadt 14,060
Mount Massive 14,421 Mount Evans 14,264 Handies Peak 14,048
La Plata Peak 14,336 Mount Princeton 14,197 Culebra Peak 14,047
Mount Lincoln 14,286 Mount Bross 14,172 Mount Sherman 14,036
Grays Peak 14,270 Mount Democrat 14,148 San Luis Peak 14,014
Mount Antero 14,269 Pikes Peak 14,110 Huron Peak 14,005
Torreys Peak 14,267 Mount Columbia 14,073

I think it's funny they even have categories for these mountains because they are all a challenge to me but I guess the terrain of some is worse than the others. From what I can tell the ones which are closer to Telluride and Aspen are typically considered more extreme than the others. That's ok because I wasn't really looking to drive 5 hours for a day hike anyway.

My next pick is either Quandary or Mt. Bierstadt. Both are close to the Front Range making them easily accessible for us. I have a few friends who are interested in a camping trip and/or hiking a 14er as well for which I think Quandary would be the best pick. It's near Breck so we could camp there the night before if we wanted and it's 6.75miles with a 3,450 foot gain in elevation. It's a popular 14er to hike and billed itself as a great one for those who have never experienced one. Mt. Bierstadt is closer to us being near Idaho Falls and it's 6 miles making it a good choice to knock our in one weekend day as well. Of course, I've never hiked either of these so what sounds easy could very well not be. Gray's was 8.5 miles so these two are shorter by comparison but once that air starts to thin out and the climb gets steeper and steeper the hike might as well be 50 miles long because that's what it feels like to your legs. I would definitely like to have a group hike with some of our friends, it's just that I'm not sure which ones would truly be able to handle this. Not to sound like a snob but I would be on a mission to reach the top and I wouldn't want any dead weight slowing us down! While there's no real way, I think, to train for one of these hikes, at the very least you should be physically in shape and have done a few weekend hikes before to understand what you are getting yourself into.

I read an article about a guy a few weeks ago who had made it his life's mission to visit every country in the world. He said he had an amazing time at first checking places off his list, but once it got down to the last few countries (like Cuba and dangerous spots in Africa) he wasn't too excited anymore. Of course he felt like he had to go to accomplish his goal but he wasn't looking forward to it. I am sure it's the same way with hiking 14ers. If you want to complete all 54 there are going to be a few you aren't going to like in there, and some you will positively dread and probably save for last. Still I think it's a lofty goal and one worth trying to obtain. If I hike 8 a year every year that means it will only 7 years for me...which is sad to say probably faster than I can pay off my credit cards!

In the meantime for inspiration I'm reading this book called, "Halfway to Heaven" by Mark Obmascik. It's about a middle aged father who, after his son discovers how much he loved climbing a 14er at camp, decides to try and climb all 54 in a year in an effort of bonding. I'm curious to see how this out-of-shape 44 year old accomplishes his goal. As he says in his book, 500,000 people attempt to climb a 14er every year but only 1,300 have ever made it to the top of them all.

Perhaps I can be one of them....

No comments:

Post a Comment