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First time in Colorado

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First time in Colorado

Postby jjfromnj » Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:07 am

Been perusing the forums here and have gotten some good info. Now for my first post. My gf and I are heading to Denver/Boulder this weekend (gonna be there from Friday night to Tuesday). We are interested in getting some good hiking in. As we are flying in from sea level, I was thinking of doing something small around Boulder on Saturday, then Sunday or Monday doing a 14er. Was thinking about maybe Greys/Torreys, Evans/Bierstadt, etc. Are we in way over our heads thinking we can come from sea level and doing something like this within a few days?

Also I would like to avoid renting a car if possible. This is probably a long shot, but is there such thing as a 14er trailhead that is accessible by public transport? Or, does anyone wanna give us a lift from the city and hike with us?!
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Sarah Simon » Wed Aug 29, 2012 4:07 pm

Acclimatization: You never really know how your body will react to an elevation quite higher than where you live/work/play. Certainly try a lower peak or two first, such as Chief Mountain / Squaw Mountain off of the Mt. Evans Highway to see how you feel. And you'll get tired of hearing this, but:

1. Don't drink alcohol. Leave it to the Colorado residents to be the high altitude drunks.
2. Drink plenty of water / sports drinks - power hydrate.
3. Eat - a LOT - of healthy food. Don't let yourself bonk.
4. Take it slow. Don't try to run up these peaks, just find a nice, easy mountaineer's pace and take your time. It's much better to wake up dreadfully early and walk slow than to sleep in and try to hurry.
5. Get plenty of sleep while you're here. Turn in early, rest up.

Enjoy!
Sarah
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby JK » Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:05 pm

You should take a look at estes park shuttle: http://www.estesparkshuttle.com/

They can drop you off very close to the entrance to the RMNP from Denver.

I haven't tried them but am planning to use their service for a trip in September. Let me know if you find anything else.
My trip rests on finding a bus service that can drop me close to the mountains so I would very interested in whatever info you might find.
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Andrew Rankine » Thu Aug 30, 2012 1:12 am

If you are both fit I do not think it will be a problem. Two years ago I flew from Phoenix (1200 ft) to Denver, got in by 9 pm. Drove to Leadville (10000 ft) (got lost in the dark), and got there by midnight. On the trail the next morning by 6 am, and climbed Elbert (14433 ft). I had a headache and did not feel great, but after returning to Leadville felt fine--and I was not in great shape at the time. Just go for it!
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby jjfromnj » Thu Aug 30, 2012 8:49 pm

We actually found a super cheap rental car so now we'll have a lot more freedom. Here is our rough itinerary:

8/31 - Arrive in Denver at 6:45 pm, sleep in Boulder
9/1 - Hike Bear Creek and South Boulder Peak in the morning, then check out Boulder the rest of the day (maybe go to Phish?)
9/2 - Pick up the car, drive to Loveland Pass and climb Mt. Sniktau, then continuing west to Breckenridge where we have a place to Couchsurf
9/3 - Climb Elbert
9/4 - Fly out of Denver at 3:15 pm

What does everyone think of this plan? This trip was thrown together very recently and I don't know too much about CO. These hikes/climbs are rather ambiguously picked by us, so please let us know if there are better options in the areas we will be staying.

Also, assuming we do climb Elbert, should we sleep in Breckenridge the night before, or is it much better to camp closer to the trailhead or on the mountain?

Thanks in advance for your help!
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby brenta » Fri Aug 31, 2012 2:14 am

South Boulder Peak is still closed after the fire in early July. Check this page.
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Andrew Rankine » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:38 am

You can stay in Breckenridge. Don't know about it, but Elbert is an hour drive from Leadville. There is a campsite close to Elbert, but I don't know much about it.

Beware that the road to the standard Elbert route is a bit rough. In a rental SUV I didn't make it all the way and had to walk a half mile. Just be aware of that.
Last edited by Andrew Rankine on Sat Sep 01, 2012 1:04 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby elhombre » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:20 am

Quandry is just south of Brackenridge and is a nice mountain to climb as a first timer. The road to the trailhead will be no problem for most any car.
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Pete Castricone » Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:31 pm

Sniktau is a good idea and pretty straightforward but you might not get a parking spot on a holiday weekend. I would stay in Breck since it's barely an hour to the Elbert TH from there. I haven't been up there recently, but I recall the road being pretty mellow. It's Labor Day...expect a crowd, follow Sarah's advice, and have fun.
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Tonka » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:07 pm

1. Don't drink alcohol. Leave it to the Colorado residents to be the high altitude drunks.


Give us flat lander drunks a break will ya :lol:
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby Sarah Simon » Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:23 pm

Tonka wrote:
1. Don't drink alcohol. Leave it to the Colorado residents to be the high altitude drunks.


Give us flat lander drunks a break will ya :lol:


Alas, this is the result:

Image
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Re: First time in Colorado

Postby jjfromnj » Wed Sep 05, 2012 7:03 pm

Just got home last night and I figured I'd post a trip report.

Day 1: Slept in Boulder, woke up and drove to NCAR. We climbed Bear Peak and had great weather at the summit. We huffed and puffed a little but it wasn't too bad. Got back to the car just in time before some rain came through. Later that night we went to the Phish show. Not ideal to be on our feet for another three hours but the show was awesome!

Day 2: Drove west to Loveland Pass. We hiked up Sniktau, up the initial steep ascent to the false summit. It was more difficult but again, nothing to turn us back. We would have pushed for the summit but the skies started to look ominous so we turned back. Sure enough it hailed on us during our descent, and the lightning came not long after we made it to the car. We probably made it to something like 12,500 ft. by my estimate. We then drove through Leadville and ended up at Mt. Elbert's south trialhead (near Lakeview Campground). We slept in the car at the TH. My girlfriend had bad headaches throughout the night but we drank a ton of water, and she felt fine the next morning.

Day 3: Woke up around 5 am and decided to try driving up the 4WD trail towards the 2nd trailhead. We made it as far as the creek and didn't want to attempt crossing so we parked just before the creek on the side of the road. From there it was only a 1/2 mile walk to the parking lot and 2nd TH. We reached the summit around 11 am, no doubt winded from the altitude. It wasn't easy, and we both had headaches for the last 2 hours or so, but nothing horrible. Between the two of us, we drank 5 liters of water. Luckily we had no afternoon storms so were able to take our time on the summit and the descent.

So it is possible for flatlanders to get into the 14s on a short trip like this. I believe our success was due to hiking each day in increasing elevation (8,500 ft.; ~12,500 ft.; 14,440 ft) and relentlessly drinking water. It wasn't easy, but we were enough in shape and determined. Awesome trip in the end, thanks for all the advice!
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