Trip report on Trail Running Colorado 14ers
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So, this past winter I was wondering what we should do to celebrate Nick’s graduation and my original thought was…”hey, we have always wanted to climb Mount Rainier…let’s climb Rainier this summer for graduation.”…My wife looked at me and said, “really?…we live in Colorado and you have not climbed all the 14ers. She was right, and thus began the semi-planning for climbing all the 14ers this summer. Nick was the voice of realism in this matter when he suggested that we not attempt to climb them all in 10 days, but at a less ridiculous pace; thusly, we have the whole summer to crank ‘em out. Last but not least I thought this was a great addition to my training schedule to prepare for the Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race and Trail Run. Below is a table and running list of 14ers climbed this summer as well as links to past climbs.

Past 14er Ascent pictures>>

Summer 14er Project Index

Mount Massive, 14,421' [17 May 09]
Mount Sherman, 14,036' [22 May 09 and 12 Sept 09]
Mount Elbert, 14,440' [25 May 09]
Pikes Peak, 14,110' [28 May 09]
Huron Peak, 14,012' [30 May 09]
Mount Belford, 14,205 [31 May 09]
Mount Yale, 14,196 [5 June 09]
Mount Princeton, 14,197 [14 June 09]
Mount Shavano, 14,236 [17 June 09]
Mount Antero, 14,276 [27 June 09]
LaPlata Peak, 14,336 [03 July 09]
Mount Shavano, 14,236, and Tabeguache Peak 14,155 [14 July 09]
Longs Peak, 14,255 [5 September 09]
Mount Columbia, 14,073 [18 September 09]

 

Mount Massive, 14,421' [17 May 09]

Mount Massive was the first 14er climbed in 2009 and started the clock for completing all 54 of Colorado’s 14er. Sunday, 16 May a group of seven climbers started off from the Mount Massive trail head located on Half Moon road.  We started at 6:30 at the trail head…about 30 minutes later than we planned, but it is always difficult to organize a large group of people. The first 30 minutes of the trail was clear of snow, but after 30 minutes the pace slowed as we maneuvered around snow fields and drifts as high as 12 feet. After clearing the major drifts and snow field that we post-holed through [we had snow shoes, were too lazy to put them on—we used them on the return trip]. We reached the saddle prior to the final push to the summit and took different routes to the summit based on the equipment we had on-hand. Nick and I had crampons and a whippet for self arrest and took a direct path to the summit and the other group followed the rocks and lower angle approach.  We reached the summit took some pictures and started back down—again taking different routes to the trail below. Nick and I took a high angle direct route and plunge stepped to the approach trail. Some of us strapped on snow shoes and made quick work of the snow fields whiles other had a more trying experience. The remaining distance back to the trail head was uneventful, but long given the lateness of the day and the melting of the snow. All considered—a great start to the 14er project.

Past Mount Massive ascents>>

Mount Sherman, 14,036' [22 May 09]

Mount Sherman is always listed as an easy 14er [if there is such a thing]…it is a relatively short hike from either side [Leadville or Fairplay], but add in a late spring snow storm and existing snow pack from the past winter and you have the makings of an epic. Nick had invited Jamie Peters along and the plan was to depart the house for the trail head at 2:00 a.m. We packed up everyone’s gear and departed for the trail head at 2:15 a.m….not too far off the schedule. It was lightly snowing at the trail head and it had clearly snowed a fair amount over the last 24 hours—so route finding in the dark with fresh snow was initially challenging, but having done most of the route a couple weeks ago we quickly oriented on the draw and saddle and headed off in snow shoes. We trudged up the left flank of the draw and followed the old telegraph poles to the saddle and then began the final push to the summit. There was one section that appears very exposed at night [because it is] with steep drop offs on either side, but otherwise the remainder of the climb was uneventful. We got to the top—took a picture and immediately headed down since Nick had a 7:00 a.m. appointment. Almost immediately the sky lightened as we headed back and made the return route more certain. We reached the truck and we headed back quickly dropping Nick off with a few moments to spare. 2 down 52 more to go…

Mount Elbert, 14,440' [25 May 09]

We have run and hiked Mount Elbert years past—usually around 4th of July. It rained and snowed on the mountain most of Memorial Day weekend, but Nick and I opted for running shoes with gators, light pack and whippet / poles. Fairly easy ascent in 2 hours…not our fastest time to the summit, but there was snow and ice to contend with on the route above 13,000 feet. We had an uneventful return to the trail head and back at the casa in time for a late breakfast—round trip time 3:21.

Pikes Peak, 14,110' [28 May 09]

I (Nick) have a history with this mountain. The last time I attempted it was on New Year’s Day, when I was 12 years old. It was not a fun time, and my Dad ended up flagging down a Jeep on the Pike’s Peak highway to give me a lift to the top. That was my last experience with that mountain, until Thursday, May 28th, when we gave it another shot. We attempted the same route as before (The Crags Route), but hauled much ass, and found ourselves above treeline in 57 minutes. After treeline, in the long trudge up the nearly glaciated draw, I contemplated two things: this was going to be a fun glissade back down, and damn, I did not apply sunscreen in a fashion that would protect me from reflected light. After the draw, it was a short trudge to the road where I had hitchhiked years before. In seeing the peak from the road, I made the horribly incorrect assumption that, “Hey, I wasn’t that far off the top!”

I was, as I found out from the long, post-holing trek that ensued. This trek on its own would have been typical of a fourteener, but the presence of the “gaper parade” made the long walk a gauntlet. The pike’s peak highway had just opened up for tourist travel, much to my father’s and my chagrin. So when we arrived at the top of Pike’s Peak, thinking we had the peak to ourselves (besides the tractors plowing the road), it came as a great shock when the Cog Railway sent a group of blue-jeaned, cotton-sweatered, babbling gapers our way. We packed our gear in an attempt to head out with some dignity, but not before hearing, “look at those little axe thingies they’re carrying!” They had shit on the magic of the mountain.

On our way down, we were followed by some crazies who valiantly attempted to sled through a rock field on a sheet of cardboard. They chased us all the way to the road, where a mujer muy gorda, looking at my hiking boots, yelled at me, “Are those snowshoes?” Her husband, obviously in the know, quieted her, saying, “No honey, they’re mountain boots!”

After being harassed off the highway by gapers and privately-contracted highway security gapers, we hit the frozen draw that looked like a potential bucket-o-fun on the way up. I attempted to glissade face-first, whippet out, and ended up sinking my face eight inches in corn snow and scorpion-kicking myself in the head. Thus, we ended our fourteener like any other fourteener that feels much longer than it is: we jogged and we walked in silence. Yeah, it was pretty fun. And yes, I’m a gaper hater.

Huron Peak, 14,012' [30 May 09]

Prior to our ascent of Mount Huron we had to stake out a camp site at Winfield [which is the half-way point of the Leadville Trail 100]. It is the first time Winfield was vacant in the last six years of visits…except for our truck.  After we parked at the most awesome camp site took off down the trail / jeep road toward the Huron trail. This added 4 miles extra round trip but was a great warm-up to the 3,400 vertical in two mile ascent we had coming up. The switch backs were uneventful and brought us to a decision point—take the standard trail or…climb straight up a snow covered coulier…obviously we chose the more interesting and strenuous route. This route proved to be much longer than we could see from our vantage point, but ultimately faster than the trail and certainly more fun. We reached the snow covered summit in time to see the weather rapid go south. Fortunately, we planned the same return route and glissaded the majority of the return trip to tree line.

Mount Belford, 14,205 [31 May 09]

Belford alone is 7 miles with a gain of 4560 feet. The actual climb of Belford was probably the least strenuous part of the day. The worst part was waking up, having climbed Huron the previous morning, with ice frozen around my head. My sleeping bag was nice and cozy, and I had to figure out a way to transition from this...more from Nick later...

Mount Yale, 14,196 [5 June 09]

Probably the most fun route, except the glissading on Huron. It was on Mount Yale that Team Lame Llama was born and the idea that our team should be sponsored by PowerThirst. We are currently working on our racing jerseys with individual names: Fizzbitch, Menergy, Gun, and Manana. Moreover, we are working on our Bear Blasting and Hump Catting skills—this is tough work, but with the abnormal amounts of Kenyan like energy we are getting from PowerThirst we should be able to prevail. The one unusual event on Mount Yale was the ritualistic gear shedding that occurred on the approach above treeline. As we descended from the powerfully gusty peak on Yale, after consuming at least three feet of our foot-and-a-half long summer sausage with cheese and crackers (see photo to right), we greeted each gaper in the gaper parade, with an individual and enthusiastic “Guten tag!” Because ve ver ze Germans, and ze Germans say, “Guten tag!” This transformed our language from a simple spanglish to a spanglish-german-ebonic mix. From this unique dialect spawned the delicious “Galletas del fuego,” which are nearly impossible to eat when frozen, and “Pudge Weejes,” which squeak and hop from rock to rock. Anyvays, we were descending and enthusiastically greeting the gaper parade when we noticed several unusual occurrences. The gaper, a strange breed of outdoorsman, seemed to shed critical gear at less than opportune moments in the climb. We found on the summit ridge a pole, cast aside wastefully. Below the ridge we found a jacket, whose poor owner would later suffer greatly at the 50 mph+ gusts. We found water bottles, of all things, near the treeline, and full backpacks, whose contents went unappreciated, at several points in the decent. One could only fathom that these gapers ditched their critical gear in order to make the puny peak more challenging.

Mount Princeton, 14,197 [14 June 09]

We had a great early morning start, avoided most of the road trekking via McGizzle’s jeep and had a trudge-fest over talus fields—that about sums up Princeton.  We had some good snow above the saddle, which apparently deterred all but three college kids from a party of 8-10 climbers.

Mount Shavano, 14,236 [17 June 09]

The highlight of climbing the Angel of Mount Shavano was the glissade down after the talus scrabble to the summit. We did get extra credit points for also summiting Espirit Point to the south of Shavano at 13,630. We were looking at a double with Tabeguache Peak, but the extra 4 miles round trip [we started at the Angel of Shavano camp ground and hiked to the Blank Gulch trailhead] and the requirement to be in Leadville at 4:00 p.m. left Tabeguache Peak for another day.

Even with the early morning start and camping directly across from the Angel of Shavano trailhead, it became a mad scramble to be back in Leadville by 4:00 p.m. which led to the decision to bushwack back to the Angel trailhead following Roach’s route description:

 “The only signs of a trail are an occasional cairn and a few sawed off tree limbs here and there. You will have to bushwack your way straight up the mountain out of the trees to the ridge. Once you reach the treeline, looking north you should see the Mount Shavano Trail on the south side of the ridge to your north. You will be paralleling this trail up towards Espirit Point.”

So, we oriented off the southwest draw and did find the old mining camp referenced in the summit post route description, but it was a long trek with a lot of “wacking” going on…finally we intersected the Colorado Trail not far from the Angel trailhead and made it back to camp. All-in-all we put in over 14 miles…good training.

Ok—back after a short break to travel to the University of New Mexico—go Lobos! Researched a good run on the Sandia Crest trail while at UNM and had an excellent trail run. The Sandia area has an excellent well signed trail network and I look forward to more adventures there later in the year.

Mount Antero, 14,276 [27 June 09]

Mount Antero is the 10th highest mountain in Colorado, and depending on the quality of your four wheel drive “can be” an easy peak to bag. On the other hand like most climbs you can make it as difficult as you want…we opted for the more difficult approach—starting at Chaffee County Road 162 and adding an alternate route to the standard more direct route. This made the round trip 18 miles and 5000 feet elevation gain.

LaPlata Peak, 14336 [03 July]

We [Nick, Laurel's first 14er, as well as Eric and Anne]climbed LaPlata Peak using the non-standard southern face route near the historical mining town of Winfield. Winfield has preserved several buildings and restored them to original condition. Read “No Longer a 14’er Virgin" for Laurel's perspective>>

Mount Shavano, 14236, and Tabeguache Peak 14,155 [14 July 09]

Mt. Shavano and Tabeguache Peak are the southernmost fourteeners of the Sawatch mountain range and are usually climbed together, however we opted for climbing just Shavano earlier in the year due to adding 4+ additional miles starting from the Angel of Shavano camp ground and an appointment in Leadville at 4:00 p.m.. Shavano is also the easternmost 14er in the Sawatch mountain range. It is most noted for the Angel of Shavano on its east face and we climbed and glissaded the Angel last time on Shavano. More later this week...

No 14ers lately... Leadville Marathon, Silver Rush 50 mile mountain bike race, and all efforts are focused on training on the LT100 bike and 100 mile run courses. I have done Hope Pass [12,600] five times and will be going over Sugar Loaf Pass today [again]. I feel reasonably prepared with a 6 1/2 hour under my belt and over 7000 feet of climbing.

Now that the "Leadman" race series is complete [successfully]--we are back on track to run some 14ers.

Longs Peak 14,255 [05 September 09]

Completed Longs Peak 5 September and re-climbed Mount Sherman 12 September.

Mount Columbia 14,073 [18 September 09]

Completed the Sawatch range with the climb of Mount Columbia

More Colorado 14er photos>>

Mount Massive

Above: After completing Mount Massive.  Below: Glissading down from Mount Massive summit (east face).
Glassading 
Above: Mike trudging on Mount Sherman. Below: Nick and Mike on Mount Elbert summit.
Mount Elbert Summit
Nick at Devil's Playground
Above: Nick at Devil's Playground, Pikes Peak Crags route. Below: Nick and Mike at the summit of Pikes Peak.
Pikes Peak Summit
Nick on Mount Huron
Above: Nick on the summit of Mount Huron. Below: Vladimir from Ukraine, now Kansas on the summit of Mount Belford with us.
Mount Belford
Mount Yale
Above: McGizzle hangs on for her life...or positions a camera you decide....Below: Nick and his summer sausage on Yale.
Nick with his lunch on Mount Yale
Team Lame Llama!
Above: Team Lame Llama logo--working on team jerseys...
The Angel
Above: At the base of the Angel of Shavano. Below: On the Summit of Mount Antero.
Summit of Mount Antero
Nick, Laurel, Eric and Anne TH of LaPlata
Above: Laurel, Eric, Anne and a bear [or Nick]. Below: Mark and Nick on the Shavano\ Tabeguache saddle.
Nick and Mark at the Shavano / Tabeguache Saddle
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