How do I climb a 14er? (Reader Question)

Lately, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about things like gear, equipment and hiking in general. It’s awesome, we love being able to share our thoughts. Instead of keeping the conversation confined to an email or social media conversation, we’re going to start publishing more Q&A’s right here too.

At the end of August I headed to Colorado to climb Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross with a few friends. They were my first 14ers. I write a trip report over on our sister site, Hike Like A Woman and it’s been crazy popular. But it also generated a lot of questions about bagging peaks.

Now, you might have noticed that we don’t have any maps or trail guides published for any 14ers yet. The key word there is yet, because as we expand into Colorado more we’re going to be mapping and bagging more big mountains. Also, I think that the “rules” for climbing 14ers also apply when you’re climbing our 11 & 12,000 foot peaks. So, I thought it would be fitting to go ahead and answer a question about 14ers right here today.

HOW DO I CLIMB A 14ER

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Today’s question comes from Rachel. 

“Hi Rebecca, I just read your blog post about climbing four 14ers in Colorado. I’m curious, was this your first 14er? I’ve never climbed one before but I’d like to. What advice do you have for someone like me?”

Hi Rachel,

That’s awesome, do it. 

Yes, I did climb my first 14er last summer. I’d climbed plenty of 12 & 13,000-foot peaks but decided it was time to tackle mountains the 14,000-foot variety. Now I’m afraid that I’m a little bit hooked…

Here’s what I did.

  • Research and find the perfect first peak. For me, it was the Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross (the DeCaLiBron) because I wanted to get all 4 on my first time up. I recommend the website 14ers.com. It is super useful for trip planning.
  • Get in shape by doing a few good climbs before you attempt your summit, but know that even if you’re in amazing shape your lungs will burn at 14,000 + feet.
  • If you’re coming from sea level there are a few different schools of thought in terms of acclimatization, check out this post. Most important is to stay hydrated, well-fueled and to listen to your body and head down if you feel sick no matter how badly you want to summit.
  • Get an early start, if you’re hiking a popular trail near the front range be hiking no later than 5:30 or 6 am to avoid not just crowds (it’s like Disneyland up on some of the more popular peaks) but also dangerous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms.
  • Recruit a few good friends to join you, just for the fun of it.
  • Don’t forget to wear good boots that are well broken in, plenty of people climb in just running shoes but if you’re like me you’ll want the protection and ankle support that only a pair of boots can provide when you’re descending a scree slope. Also think about finding a good pair of trekking poles.
  • Choose your season, Aug, Sept. good months for climbing 14ers but some rad people ski up them in the winter too.

Thank you for the question Rachel, best of luck to you!

 

Have you ever climbed a 14er? What advice would you give?

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