Colorado 14er Trip Recap- In short it was awesome. 9 days of hiking, 8 total summits, and several cool mountain towns visited.
Day 1- Fly to Denver. Get picked up and drive to Buena Vista. While there I saw that the TransRockies Run was just getting underway. That would be a cool event to do someday. That night we camped up on Cottonwood Pass.
Day 2- Climb Mt. Yale. 10.05 miles and 4,300 ft of elevation gain. Great weather and a good first peak to kick off the trip. I was a little concerned about acclimatization but sleeping at over 10,000 ft the night before really helped and I had no issues. Returned to trailhead and drove to the Uncompaghre Wilderness.
Day 3- Climb Uncompaghre Peak. 14.22 miles and 4,150 ft of elevation gain. This was a little bit of a tough day but thankfully it worked out great. The skies never looked good but thankfully no severe weather rolled in. When it comes to climbing 14ers you always have to have an eye on the sky. It can be extremely dangerous above tree-line when a storm rolls in. The final 1000 ft was climbed in a light rain and some sleet. Thankfully not long after the sun came out for our return hike to camp.
Day 4- Climb Wetterhorn Peak. 8.2 miles and 3,300 ft of elevation gain.
This proved to be a very challenging climb. Class 3 towards the top made even more challenging by a steady light rain. The top was engulfed by a huge cloud that never moved. While climbing I could hear this noise coming from the next valley. Finally figured out that it was about 1000 sheep grazing on the hillside. Returned and packed up camp. Our next stop was the town of Ouray. We ended up driving up and and over Engineer Pass which was supposed to be a shortcut. Not the case. It was a crazy off road boulder filled trail on the side of a mountain. My cousins Tacoma barely made it. That night we recovered with fish tacos and a trip to the hot springs.
Day 5- Climb Mt. Sneffels. 6.45 miles and 2,900 ft of elevation gain. Climbing 14ers has become quite popular and on some of the easier to get to peaks you can find quite a few people. This can add a little stress during tougher parts of the climb. Like on Sneffels when you find yourself in a narrow gully filled with loose rock and people above you sending rocks down. Thankfully we got around these people quickly. The weather was great on top but on the last few miles to the car a storm moved in dumping rain. My rain jacket was getting a pretty good workout so far. That afternoon we drove to Telluride and stayed the night.
Day 6- No climb but we hiked 5.2 miles up to Navajo Lake to set up for the Wilson Group. 2.018 ft of elevation gain. First time during the trip with fully loaded packs. Found an awesome campsite for our next 2 nights.
Day 7- This was the big day. Not so much because of mileage but because of difficulty. Climbed El Diente Peak and Mt. Wilson. 8.7 miles and 3,734 ft of climbing. Lots of class 4 climbing. It started with a steep couloir filled with loose rock. El Diente was fun to scramble up but the traverse from El Diente to Mt. Wilson was some of the hardest route finding and climbing I’ve ever done. I have the GoPro video to prove it. Laura was not happy when she watched it.
Day 8- Climb Wilson Peak and then hike back out from Navajo Lake to TH. 12.5 miles and 3,068 ft of elevation gain. This was probably my favorite climb of the trip. Challenging, fun climbing and perfect weather. This is the peak featured on the Coors Light can so of course we had to bring one up for a photo. Long drive to Breckenridge after getting back to the truck.
Day 9- Climb Quandary Peak. 7.5 miles and 3,400 ft of elevation gain.
Our final climb. The rest of our group was pretty tired so we ended with an easier one. Great views from the top. Relaxed the rest of the day in Breckenridge.
Day 10- Return to Denver. Fly home.
Overall stats- 8 summits, 73 miles of hiking, 27,000 ft of elevation gain.
While we didn’t get 10 summits I’d still say the trip was a great success. I’ve now climbed 15 out of the 58 Colorado 14ers. Long ways to go. I felt great physically throughout the trip and actually felt like I was getting stronger every day even while losing 8 lbs.
Ran 5 miles the day after I got home and felt awesome. Hopefully that high altitude training pays off in 15 days.
"Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."