In my opinion the most amazing U.S. geographical feature is the Rocky Mountains; this is a major reason why I choose to live in Colorado, nowhere else in the Rocky Mountain Range do the mountains reach so high. Colorado’s highest point and the highest point in the Rockies is Mt. Elbert at 14,433 ft. (4,399 meters). Within the Rocky Mountains of Colorado there lies 53, 14,000 ft.+ peaks according to 14ers.com. Conquering Colorado’s 14ers can be a great individual, family, or group activity.
Climbing to the summit of one of Colorado’s 14ers is extremely rewarding! However, if not approached correctly and with caution these mountains can seriously ruin your day. But don’t worry, having hiked many of these mountains myself, I have learned many things that will help you enjoy your climb, and I’m here to share them with you.
-I would argue that none of Colorado’s 14ers are necessarily easy, the altitude itself can prove difficult, and can effect people in different ways. There are a couple of Colorado’s 14ers that you can actually drive up: Pikes Peak, and Mount Evans. I would recommend first driving up to these peaks and seeing how you feel at such altitude. Then I would recommend hiking up Mt. Evans or Mt. Bierstadt, these peaks have relatively short routes that are well established.
Get an early start
-Although it is possible to climb these peaks year round, summer is the best season to summit. That being said, in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, afternoon thunderstorms are present almost on a daily basis. I recommend starting your hike early to beat these storms. The last thing you want is to be stuck at a summit well above tree line when lighting is striking everywhere. There are many resources to consult in planning your trip times, one such resource is 14ers.com. In my experience I would recommend being off the summit by 12pm or so. (Although storms can move in at any time)
Hydration is one of your best defenses against any kind of altitude sickness, so make sure you have plenty of water. Bring snacks and even a lunch, you will be working hard and will need to refuel. The sun is powerful on the top of Colorado’s 14ers, so be sure to apply and bring plenty of sunscreen. I would also recommend a light jacket, even in the summer it can be cool and get cold very fast at the top of these mountains. You will be working hard and sweating on your hike up, and when the wind hits you at the top, you will cool off quickly so be prepared. I would also recommend climbing with trekking poles, they really do help, and can help make the climb a full body workout. Why I think Trekking Poles are Awesome!
Finally, Have fun and enjoy!
-Make sure you hike at your own pace. Give yourself plenty of time, and don’t feel the need to race up the hill. If you do, the altitude will hit you fast. Most important of all, make sure you take breaks and enjoy the amazing views! From the summit of pretty much all of Colorado’s 14ers you will have incredible views of the entire Rocky Mountain Range in Colorado. It will blow your mind how vast and expansive the range actually is.
You will not be sorry if you take the time to summit one of these amazing mountains!
Enjoy life above the tree line!