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Colorado in April

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Re: Colorado in April

Postby BigMitch » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:23 pm

I second the suggestion of Quandry Peak and the others nearby (Lincoln and Bross). Trailheads near highway and easy snow climbs.

Other mild 14-ers in the Sawatch that you can get to trailheads without a 4X4 include Elbert (eastern approach), Belford (via Missouri gulch), Huron, Yale, and Antero.

IMHO, the best source of information for 14-er snow climbs is Dawson's two books on climbing the 14-ers.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby BigMitch » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:28 pm

Long's typically has less snow than the Sawatch at that time of the year.

However, IMHO, the usual Keyhole route and the southern route from Sand Lake (?) should not be attempted at that time of the year by a newbie.

In all of these, bring mountaineering boots and crampons, snowshoes, ski poles, and an ice axe.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby BigMitch » Thu Jan 13, 2011 10:37 pm

Pikes is ok going up the Barr Trail.

IMHO, the approach from the west via Cragg's campground is just a long and boring slog along the road with significant distance (5-6 miles??) above 13,000 ft.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Flattlander » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:17 am

Getting heated in here. I truly appreciate all the info, and suggestions, and welcome the words of caution as well. All will be taken into consideration. I don't want to get in over my head, so I'll probably go conservative on my route choices on my first trip to CO. I'm considering Mt Elbert as the 'walkup' type of thing. I'll probably skip the Keyhole Route--no need to argue. It would make sense that people from CO, more familiar with the terrain, get into less trouble than people from other places. At the same time, from what I've read, it is a classic route, and thus a good suggestion. It's looking like probably April, so I'll expect lots of snow and some extra mileage due to winter parking. Same deal here in the Northeast--some places you just can't drive to in the winter, so you walk farther. And yes, that "junk we get in Vermont" is piled high, and I slog through it on snowshoes every day, breaking my own little trail system. Luckily, I live in the sticks, and the back yard is like a winter wonderland--except with post-holing and spruce traps. I do not have any definite plans as of yet, but I will be staying active this winter in preparation. In the meantime, keep the knowledge coming.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby CSUMarmot » Fri Jan 14, 2011 12:31 am

Flattlander wrote: I'm considering Mt Elbert as the 'walkup' type of thing.

Elbert is a great one that I (although in the summer) didn't think was difficult at all as my first 14er. Because of the popularity there may very well be a packed trail all the way to the top, so you mmight not need to use snowshoes (but bring them just in case). I'd suggest the north trail from Halfmoon creek
http://www.summitpost.org/north-mount-elbert-trail-ne-ridge/681916
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby spiritualspatula » Fri Jan 14, 2011 4:08 am

If you are set on wanting to do a 14'er, as somebody else mentioned, Quandary is a really good choice, especially for avalanche danger.http://www.summitpost.org/quandary-trail-east-ridge/159118 I didn't even think to mention avalanche awareness, I just assumed that went without saying, but it's a good point. Along those lines, though- http://avalanche.state.co.us/index.php. But really, there are lots of other super fun, interesting, and less visited areas to choose from if you expand beyond having to do a 14'er, though I do understand that it's one of the Colorado THINGS to do so draws your attention.

And Fletch, if it makes you feel any better, one of my friends who has lived here their whole life was bitching about blustery in the reports just the other day.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Flattlander » Fri Jan 14, 2011 5:43 am

I'm definitely not married to the idea of doing a 14er or a well-known peak. I'm sure there are obscure gems out there of various altitudes.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby sneakyracer » Fri Jan 14, 2011 3:32 pm

Pikes via Barr Trail is a must. Its best if you make it an overnight trip and stay in Barr Camp. It is a wonderful place. Most of the trail is below treeline but has nice view every once in a while. Once above the a-frame its wide open. View are impressive because there is a huge vertical relief over Colorado Springs (elev. 6000ft+-) and other hills in the area. The alpine terrain is barren but the cirque (off to the left on one of the switchbacks on the trail, there is a sign), bottomless pit (to the right of the trail, can be seen from above if you go on the pikes road or as a detour from barr trail) and specially the couloirs off Devil's Playground are a must see (on the road up to pikes). Beware of wind, the terrain is very exposed up there, nowehere to hide, and its almost always windy (20-40mph is the norm)

Besides that there are lots of other novice hikes in Colorado (like the ones mentioned) that have great views and terrain. Its always best to team up with a local. It will reduce the stress and maximize safety and enjoyment. But even alone there is plenty of good beta available and most trails are well used. Go prepared and you will have a lot of fun.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby pyerger » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:46 pm

When the time gets closer, you can try fourteeners.com, for snow, weather,and trip reports. If you post your original question on there web sight, you will get 100s maybe 1000s of ideas!
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby BigMitch » Fri Jan 14, 2011 9:49 pm

In April, you can reasonably expect to be completely alone on Elbert.

When I did Elbert from the East on a first weekend of May, it was an easy snowshoe up to about the last 1000 feet or so. Then, you will appreciate an ice ax or two while you kick steps into the steep terrain. I was also completely alone on the mountain on a weekend.

I seem to recall a scary-looking cornice on the NE route from Halfmoon.

As I suggested above, go by the info in Dawson's books. Dawson writes for skiers and snow climbers and addresses the avalanche and cornice conditions on each route.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby elichten » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:06 pm

This thread is just what I was looking for! I have vitrually the same question with a twist: I will be in Denver in April, but will only have one day free. What's the closest to Denver that I could get up and down in a long day?
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby JonW » Tue Mar 22, 2011 5:11 pm

elichten wrote:This thread is just what I was looking for! I have vitrually the same question with a twist: I will be in Denver in April, but will only have one day free. What's the closest to Denver that I could get up and down in a long day?


If you're set on a 14er, I would recommend Quandry Peak. Less than a 2 hr drive from Denver, easy parking situation, and straightforward route with little/no avi danger. If you have the time on the way home, I would recommend taking 9 South to 285 North to get back to Denver. A scenic drive with no traffic for only a little extra driving time (assuming no traffic on I70).
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby pyerger » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:51 pm

Quandary! :D
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby elichten » Wed Apr 06, 2011 4:15 pm

Ok, Quandary it is! I'll be out there this Saturday if anyone wants to join me.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Flattlander » Sun Jun 12, 2011 5:05 am

If anyone cares, I topped out on Quandary in abysmal conditions (which made it cool) in late May. Kind of challenging because of wind and whiteout, but more fun than anything. It was like winter all over again--deep, heavy snow. A lot of trail heads were still a no-go for my rented Kia piece of shit. Colorado is nice, and I will come back to visit many times, drink many Dale's Pale Ales. Thanks all for your varied and sometimes conflicting opinions.
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