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Colorado in April

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Colorado in April

Postby Flattlander » Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:46 pm

It looks like I'm going to Denver this spring, probably in April, and I want to do some hiking while I'm out there. I've never been to CO, and I'm excited. What are the mountains like in April out there? From what I gather, it's still more or less winter conditions, which would be cool. It doesn't seem like the ideal time to hike in CO, but I don't know because I've never been there. If not in April, the trip would probably be pushed to late May/early June. Do hiking conditions suck during that time? Is there a nasty mud season in CO as there is here in the Northeast? If so, when? Am I correct in feeling that I should bring my snowshoes, crampons and ax for April? Aside from altitude kicking my ass, what differences should I expect between winter summits in the Northeast, Washington and the like, and the 14ers of CO? What are some really cool hikes that, given one trip to CO, I should absolutely do? If I get to go up two mountains while I'm out there, I'd like to make the first one a walkup and the second one maybe class 3. Nothing crazy. Any CO people out there have any input on this? Random bits of advice? Anyone wanna hike with me? Thanks!
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Sierra Ledge Rat » Tue Jan 11, 2011 10:15 pm

Expect a lot of snow in April. The passes will still be closed under 20 feet of snow. Bring skis or snowshoes.

There will still be a lot of snow in May/early June. The passes will just be opening. It will be post-hole hell at the lower elevations. I'd still bring snowshoes if you want to hike.

Consider bringing skis instead. When the passes open, it's back country ski heaven. Hike the ridges from the passes, ski down to the road, hitch-hike back up.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Scott » Wed Jan 12, 2011 1:01 am

Is there a nasty mud season in CO as there is here in the Northeast?


Not in April, but maybe late May/early June. April is when the snow is usually deepest in the high mountains:

http://www.wrcc.dri.edu/cgi-bin/cliMAIN.pl?cobert

Plan on snowshoes/skis in the high mountains in April. In late May/June snowshoes are sometimes useful, but if you climb in the early morning hours the snow will be nice and frozen for cramponing or to use an ice axe.

If you're not into that, head for the desert. Places like the below are perfect in April:

http://www.summitpost.org/colorado-nati ... ent/565221
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby seano » Wed Jan 12, 2011 2:42 am

Flattlander wrote:Is there a nasty mud season in CO as there is here in the Northeast? If so, when?

I was in the Sawatch in late May last year, and the terrain below timberline was a flowing bog under slush drifts. Conditions were changing very quickly, though, so it's hard to predict what you would encounter.
Flattlander wrote:Am I correct in feeling that I should bring my snowshoes, crampons and ax for April?

Yes.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby Flattlander » Wed Jan 12, 2011 5:57 am

Thank you all for the helpful responses! One thing I'm hearing is, "Rent a 4x4". Keep the info coming!
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby spiritualspatula » Wed Jan 12, 2011 12:46 pm

If you rent a 4x4 don't go and try to be a hero and get all the way to the TH. Stop when you think you should and accept that you may have miles added onto your trip.
If you're staying in the backcountry, our snows that time start to get wetter and heavier, not the fluffy nice champagne stuff, so don't skimp on your tent. I can't imagine it'd be any worse wet-wise than the junk you get in Vermont. Temperatures can swing a lot more drastically as well, so make sure your layers are easily shed. Seriously, the best advice is to just make sure you're in great cardio shape so the climbs aren't death marches.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby CSUMarmot » Wed Jan 12, 2011 11:53 pm

Do you have any plans yet? Anything?
Dammit kid get off mah lawn!!!
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby england » Thu Jan 13, 2011 5:21 am

Fletch wrote:Pikes and Longs.

Didn't you just move here(and start complaining about the traffic, and weather reports)??? Now you want to start giving advice about the CO mountains that you haven't climbed.... Try Evan's to start with.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby jrbrenvt » Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:55 pm

My 2 cents from someone who lives in the Champlain valley and has made 2 summer trips to Colorado. There is no reason for altitude to kick your ass, just schedule 3-4 acclimatization days and your body will adjust. There is more to Colorado then the 14ers. Look into peaks like Hallett in RMNP for acclimatization, Indian peaks wilderness near Boulder. I would strongly advise against Long's as a first 14er even in summer. The easiest route up is class 3 in good summer conditions with exposure. I made my trips in July with the intent of climbing it, but both times the rangers said the route was technical (still winter conditions, covered in ice & snow). Hence I opted to climb in the Mummy range instead (highly recommended). For 14ers, go to 14ers.com (or get Gerry Roaches book on 14ers and/or 13rs, google it) and look up the peaks with routes of class 1 & 2 and target those to get started. Elbert seems to be a popular winter ascent. I did that one in summer after being acclimatized, and I thought it was easier then many of the eastern hikes. Finally, learn about avalanches, aside from altitude, that is the big thing we really do not have to deal with hear in Vermont. And do a few winter hikes up Sunset Ridge or other exposed route (Presi's, Franconia Ridge) around here to get used to winter travel, or to stay sharp. Cheers.
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby pyerger » Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:13 pm

Not much for mud season in colorado. At least not like back east. Been up Quandary a few times in the winter/spring, A good first 14er,little avy danger, very straight forword route,short mileage and no need for a 4x4. Its probably about a two hour drive from denver. ski/ or snowshoe
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Re: Colorado in April

Postby CSUMarmot » Thu Jan 13, 2011 9:38 pm

Fletch wrote: Be careful on Longs, but THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE CLIMB IT EACH YEAR - It's not effing ROCKET SCIENCE!

People who die on the keyhole route are seemingly never from colorado. If say 2000 people climb the KH each year, 25% are probably not from colorado. I dont have exact statistics, but that's probably a safe assumption.
Now in 2010, three people died, 2 on the KH route( one from KS and one from RI) and a CU student died on the Diamond. So 2/3 or 67% of the people who died this year were from out of state and died on the keyhole route. Therefore, 25% of the population accounted for 67% of the deaths this year on Longs Peak.

Yeah, if 2000 people climb the keyhole each year and only two people die, you have a 1/1000 chance of dying on the Keyhole route. But if you're not from Colorado, the probability of dying on Longs Peak is obviously greater.
Should you have suggested longs? Sure, he asked and you answered, but dont try and shake off the fact people die on that mountain regularly
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