Want to climb one of Colorado’s 54 Mountains over 14,000 feet? This article covers training, equipment, and other advice for reaching the summit.
Colorado is known first and foremost for it’s beautiful mountains, including having 54 mountains that are over 14,000 feet high. People move to the Centennial state for the opportunity to hike and climb. For all those who make it to the top of a mountain, many do not make it to the summit, and few may get into serious trouble. The following tips can help with making it to the summit this summer.
Climbing a fourtneer is a serious workout, which involves several thousand feet of elevation change, with less oxygen available than at sea level. Physically preparing for climbing a mountain is a great investment in the off season. Focus on activities that improve cardiovascular ability and endurance, such as climbing steps with a weighted pack or using a stair climber machine. Other great activities include running, biking, and swimming. Always check with a physician before beginning a workout routine.
Summer hiking in the mountains doesn’t require a lot of special gear, but there are some key pieces of equipment that are needed. First is good hiking footwear. A pair of lightweight hiking boots that are well broken-in will work after the summer snowmelt. Some hikers may wear trail running shoes to save weight, but this may not be a good idea for those with weak ankles.
The weather in the mountains can change quickly, from a hot summer day to a snowstorm. When hiking in the mountains carry several layers of clothing to stay comfortable, even in a rainstorm. It is important to have lightweight hiking clothes, such as a pair of shorts and t-shirt, sturdy rain jacket and pants, and a middle layer such as a fleece jacket or vest.
Other pieces of gear include several water bottles or a hydration system for drinking water, food for the day, a map and compass, guidebook, and a first aid kit. Also, every hiker needs a day pack for carrying these items. This can be a specifically designed day pack, or an old school backpack.
Picking a Mountain
With 54 fourteeners, there are a lot of options to choose from. For a day hike that is relatively close to Denver, Grays and Torrey’s peaks, Mount Evans, and Mount Bierdstadt are good options. These mountains also receive a lot of traffic during the summer hiking season, especially the weekends. Other mountains that are more remote, such as in the San Juan Range, take longer to get to and may be more remote, requiring more time and camping gear.
Go With a Friend
Spending a day in the mountains with a friend or close companion can enhance the outdoor experience, and will also improve safety. If one person gets hurt, then the other can take care of the injured and get help.
Hikers should always let someone know where they’re going, and when they plan to return home, factoring in extra time in case of a late return, but having a fixed time when one plans to return. Always carry a first aid kit, and know how to use it. A cell phone can be a helpful tool for getting help, but beware that cell reception is spotty in the mountains, and the phone won’t work.
Take Time to Enjoy the View
Hiking a fourteener is a rewarding physical challenge, and is an opportunity to be in beautiful country with amazing views. Take time to enjoy the view because there is nothing like being in the Colorado high country in the summer!