I want bag a few peaks. Advice needed.

Discussion in 'Trip Planning' started by Archbishop, Dec 21, 2016.

  1. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    Quick overview. I'm a seasoned backpacker. Can easily take care of myself in that department. However, the highest I've ever been is when I was backpacking through Zion park a few years ago. (I'm from the midwest where anything over 1k is high.)
    I'm flirting with the idea of taking some vacation time next year to come out west and bag a peak or two.
    Looking for advice.
    1. What mountains should I be looking at?
    2. Whens the best time to do them?
    3. What don't I know, but need to know?
    4. Who want to join me?

    Slightly related, at the end of next summer I'll be over in Japan for work and am going to try to climb Mt. Fuji. (Weather allowing.) Anything that gets me ready for that would be nice, but not required.
    Thanks all in advance.
     
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  2. Outdoor_Fool

    Outdoor_Fool Member

    Messages:
    345
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    It's been 25 years since I climbed in Colorado so some things may have changed (e.g. summer season may be longer) but a lot of it hasn't. I'm curious what elevation you are looking at climbing. Colorado is filled with 12,000-foot and higher elevations that are nothing more than walk ups (sometimes steep walkups). There's some classic books on climbing 14,000-foot peaks (14'ers). Greys and Torreys Peaks in CO are over 14,000 feet and are relatively easy 14'ers to introduce yourself to that elevation.

    During the summer months (June - August), it is heavily advisable to start your hike up before or at dawn so you can top out and be well below the peak when the thunderstorms roll in mid-afternoon. Quite a lot of them you can start at nearly or higher than 10,000 feet so the actual elevation gain isn't significant. Anything above 10,000 feet though, is capable of causing altitude sickness. There's plenty of info out there on recognizing altitude sickness so become very familiar with the symptoms as they develop.

    Once you have completed a few in June, July, and August, you can venture out into September, October and April, May. If the bug grabs you, skiing and snowshoeing are fun options in the winter months. Before trying a late winter-spring climb, be educated in avalanches.

    Always avoid snowfields, cornices, and other snow formations that kill people every year. Stay away from them unless properly equipped and educated. Do not walk out onto snow that is on the (typically east) side of a ridgeline, it may be a cornice (hanging snowfield) that could collapse under you and send you downhill a few thousand feet. Bring at least 2 quarts of water, you can supplement with snow melt on many peaks through July usually, sometimes later.

    Sunglasses, sunscreen, and windproof clothing is mandatory. Always have one more insulating layer than you think you'll need. The sun at high altitudes is really intense. Above treeline, winds are the norm. If clouds are building and you are still on the way up, turn around. Storms can blow up quickly and launch lightning everywhere.

    Many of the trails to the top of the peaks have plenty of people on them so even if you re climbing alone, you can usually join up with others. The numbers used to nearly disappear by mid-September.

    Have fun with it and don't push it too much. There's always another day.
     
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  3. Absarokanaut

    Absarokanaut Member

    Messages:
    343
    Location:
    Jackson, WY
    Where in the midwest are you?

    Outdoor Fool, awesome post. I do however sometimes use snow in summer to travel because it's far easier than Boulder Fields and Talus. Very few slides in Colorado occur in summer in my experience. In 2011 here in Wyoming I certainly would have followed your advice with historic snowpack and no spring melt/settling. 2014 was a above average year too, we rented ice axes all summer.

    In Colorado there are some 14ers I would not do first time out without someone more experienced. Capitol, Wetterhorn, Blanca, Little Bear, etc. Get a guidebook and check it out. That said the Sangres are my favorite. Humboldt is pretty easy and a good night or two. The Crestones aren't horrible but maybe not this trip. A second overnighteer or even dayhike with 13er options is the Comanche Venable Loop with the Phantom Terrace.

    If 11,000'+ is good enough for you I am more than happy to share details of my favorite place on earth, the Southern Absaroka in the Dubois, WY vicinity.

    Absaroka Pinnacles From Austin After August Snow.jpg

    Whatever you do have an awesome time.
     
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  4. kimbur96

    kimbur96 Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Colorado Springs :)
    i'm new here n CO and new to Peaks but here is what little i can offer. 14ers.com has a wealth of information from ranking peaks in difficulty, to recent trip reports, weather links, and lists of gear recommended for newbies. Weekends on the easier peaks are crowded, there were reports of hundreds of people on the easier peaks during popular weekends this year. Lightening is your number one threat in the summer. And it is advised your off the peak by noon. Don't let summit fever put you in danger. "Summiting is optional, getting down is not" , Ed Viesturs.
    Since i have been here I have done slots of local little stuff. I did and overnight on Bison Peak (in the 12's) and Bierstadt (a 14er). Here is book i just finished reading. Pretty good. I think there is much to be learned from the mistakes of others.
    C2362.jpg
     
  5. uintahiker

    uintahiker Adventure Guru

    Messages:
    716
    Tips
    Take time to adjust to elevation. A basic rule of thumb is 5k ft per day. Altitude sickness can ruin a trip in a hurry.
    Pick a location you are interested then pick your peaks because there are way too many awesome peaks out there. In Colorado some people focus on the 14ers but miss out on some way more spectacular peaks because they aren't as high.
     
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  6. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    Thank you for advice. I'm sure as I get more into the planning stages I'll be referring back to all of these posts for guidance.
     
  7. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

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    Location:
    Midwest
    Thanks I'll check out the website and read the book.
     
  8. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    Thank you. I'll look into Absaroka. Is it suited for beginners?
     
  9. Jackson

    Jackson I like to go outside.

    Messages:
    686
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    The Uintas in NE Utah have some good peaks in the 12k and 13k range with great backpacking opportunities. Kings Peak is probably the most well-known since it's the state high point. Others on here know Uintas Peaks much better than I do. Plenty of good trip reports on here.
     
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  10. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    OK. So, I think I want to fly to Denver drive to the base of Gray and Torreys and camp out for the night. Get up early and climb these two. Either camp at the base again, or if there's enough time drive over and camp at the base of Mt. of Holy Cross and repeat, by climbing in the early morning.
    All total I'll get three peaks in about 5 days and should push myself too much for the elevation concerns. To some of you more experienced persons, does this sound about right?
    Any takers want to join me?
     
  11. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,272
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    Not enough time to acclimate, IMO.
     
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  12. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    What would your recommendation be? I've read sleeping over night at the summit is enough.
     
  13. kimbur96

    kimbur96 Member

    Messages:
    147
    Location:
    Colorado Springs :)
    you're plan is going from sea level to 11,000 feet in one day? be sure you read up on signs and symptoms of altitude sickness so you are aware should you have any symptoms.
     
  14. Nick

    Nick Post 'em if you got 'em!

    Messages:
    11,272
    Location:
    Salt Lake City
    There is no hard and set rule. It's different for everyone. It's also different based on where you're coming from, where you are acclimating and where you are headed. One of my worst episodes was when I lived at 4500' and worked at 6700' five days per week. I went and hiked too hard, too fast to a little over 10k after work one day and I got way sick. And my wife who stays down at 4500' all the time got it even worse.

    Coming from my usual elevation and camping around 9-10k makes it much better for hiking the next day, but pushing on up to the top of a 13-14k foot peak is a little different.

    Coming from close to sea level, this is likely to affect you much more. I'd recommend spending another day hiking and camping at altitude before you try to crush the summits. In my experience it's how strenuous that first day at altitude is that means getting altitude sickness or not.
     
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  15. Absarokanaut

    Absarokanaut Member

    Messages:
    343
    Location:
    Jackson, WY
    Have to agree with Nick. YMMV. I'd spend one full dayhike under 7k, camp higher, and then take it relatively easy on full day 2. Holy Cross is also a pretty long day, gotta go down and then regain that elevation loss.

    If it were me knowing what I know now I'd think about the Hoosier Pass area AFTER acclimating. If you aren't impetuous and try to race Lincoln, Democrat, and Bross are IMO easier and more potential for summiting. Quandry and Sherman are in the area too.
     
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  16. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    To be clear, my plan would be as follows.
    day 1. fly into Denver. First day is last minute supplies etc. Drive to Torreys. Get out and make camp at the base. (Or there abouts.) Hike around a bit, but no real elevation gain.
    day 2. Climb to Torreys and over to Gray. (Or vice versa.) Come back down to base. Either camp out again for the night or drive over to the base of Holy Cross.
    day 3. I want to do Holy cross as a loop. Climb up only part way. Maybe over the first hump and then camp int lower saddle.
    day 4. summit Holy cross and then down around the other side. Either camp along way down or back down to the base.
    day 5. Possibly finish the Holy Cross trail.
     
  17. Archbishop

    Archbishop Make ready. Go forward!

    Messages:
    205
    Location:
    Midwest
    I'm hoping this is a relaxed enough pace, but perhaps add one day in at the front for a simple day hike with no real elevation gain. Anyone have suggestions for the Denver area?
     
  18. Nodust

    Nodust Member

    Messages:
    74
    Location:
    Louisiana
    Hike high sleep low. Gradually get higher each day. I've seen people get altitude sickness at 8-9K. Know the symptoms and get lower if needed.
     
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  19. Ben

    Ben Member

    Messages:
    954
    Location:
    boise, id
    Regarding concerns of altitude sickness, I would echo every one's advice toward caution. How ever, I'll add my own experience, which is never having had any instance of altitude sickness on any of the hikes I've done that have taken me over 10k. When i did Kings Peak with my brother, I came from Boise (<3,000'), we did it as a backpack, and summited on the second day, no problems. My point with all this being, since you don't know how altitude affects you, you might have a terrible time of it, or you might be just fine, so plan accordingly.
     
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  20. Outdoor_Fool

    Outdoor_Fool Member

    Messages:
    345
    Location:
    Fairbanks, AK
    As Nodust said, climb high, sleep low. It's an old mountaineer rule.

    Absarokanaut, I agree with your advice. I was not referring to avalanche danger in summer, but people sliding off snowfields into trees or boulders and dying from massive trauma. Collapsing cornices have taken many also.

    I'm like Ben in that altitude never affected me but I saw others who were greatly affected. It's not pretty.

    Also, agree with others that you may be taking on too much. It's worth trying Grays and Torreys in one day but you will find out along the way whether its possible for you or not. As others have said, don't focus on the summit if the elevation is killing you.

    Maybe I misinterpreted what you meant but if you sleep on the summit of a 14'er without a lot (months) of acclimation, I can almost guarantee that you will suffer some effects of altitude sickness, any of which will make you absolutely miserable at best, and a danger to yourself at the worst.

    One of the easily overlooked effects of even moderate altitude if difficulty sleeping, which can lead to poor decision-making. Dehydration is another, which can cause all kinds of physical difficulties.

    Anyway, proceed cautiously, go slowly. If you push it and have a miserable experience, you may not want to try again.

    Having said all that, give it a try and have fun!

    I'd join you but I won't be available. If that changes, I'll let you know.
     
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