Colorado is a very beautiful state due in part to the Rocky Mountain ranges which run from north to south through the middle of the state. Colorado has many options for outdoor recreation. Those include skiing, whitewater rafting, and hiking. The state is home to 54 mountain peaks which are over 14,000 feet in elevation. These are known by local hikers and climbers as the 14ers.
The first to ascend all of the 14er peaks was Carl Blaurock and Bill Ervin. They accomplished the task by 1923. In those days there weren’t numerous guide books or even trails leading hikers to the summits. They had to explore some of the mountains and occasionally make numerous attempts before successfully summiting the various peaks.
Those who consider themselves to be adventurous and in search of a personal challenge may consider climbing one or more of the 14ers. Even though we now have the advantage of many well written guide books, which include maps and photos, as well as well groomed trails, that doesn’t make the hike easy.
It is a good idea to prepare one’s self physically on a stair-climber in the local gym or by doing several warm-up hikes at lower altitudes before you try to tackle a 14er. Also, always hike with a partner for safety. If something happens during the hike, your friend can go for help. And, it is always more fun sharing the adventure with a friend.
It is also important to pack properly for a hike. There are a number of basic items which are very important such as plenty of water and packing a lunch. You will also want to bring a rain jacket because Colorado is known for afternoon rainstorms which can pass over. Hopefully, if you get an early start, you will want to try to be off of the mountain by noon to avoid possible storms. Consult guide books for detailed pack lists.
Be sure to bring your phone and a camera if your phone doesn’t have one. Climbing a 14er often presents photo opportunities from vantage points which are not available at lower altitudes. One can see wildlife such as mountain goats and marmots which only live above timberline. You may want to phone friends and family from the top of the mountain, if you can get a connection. The phone is also important in case of emergency.
An excellent resource is also the web site www.14ers.com It lists all of the 14er peaks and the easiest route up each mountain and also more difficult routes for more experienced hikers.
Finishing all of the 14er peaks is known as the Colorado Grand Slam. Most hikers spend years climbing them all. In the summer of 2015 Andrew Hamilton became the fastest person to climb all 54 of the 14ers by finishing them in just under 10 days. A truly amazing accomplishment!
Even if you don’t climb them as fast as Andrew, climb at our own pace and enjoy the beauty of Colorado and come home safely with photos that will remind you of your adventure for a lifetime.