22, Issue 3
ON THE COLORADO 14ERS
Report & Photos by Ed Forkos
My wife, Luba Leef, and I will be returning to Colorado
this August to chip away further at the 14ers list. This will be our 5th
visit since 2007, all in August, and we’ve managed to climb 41 of
the 57 peaks so far. We hope to do 9 this Summer. This will leave only
4 more as I adamantly refuse to do Maroon and N. Maroon and am ambivalent
about Pyramid. These latter 3 I feel are ridiculously dangerous due to
very poor rock quality relative to their extreme steepness, and not being
much driven by lists, I can live without them. What does drive me to return
to Colorado is the remarkable beauty of the mountains, yet, every single
one seems to have unique challenges, whether it be the massive verticals,
the route-finding, or the nasty access roads. We always return home feeling
very satisfied with our Colorado outings.
There are aspects that make Colorado appealing to visit.
The extensive system of old mining roads gives you a chance to shorten
the hike-ins, but often, you’ll need high clearance, 4 WD, and a
lot of courage to fully take advantage of this. There are lots of cool
towns to stay in, if you wish, from where you often can knock off a goodly
number of peaks from like Ouray, Buena Vista, Silverton, Telluride, Aspen
or smaller towns offering similar logistics, like Crestone, Westcliff
and Leadville. Depending on your driving and hiking abilities, there are
a relatively limited number of peaks that you’ll need to backpack
into. Many peaks have a number of possible routes often ranging from Class
1 to Class 5 (though most are at least Class 2) including great snow routes.
There is excellent information available through the Colorado Mountaineering
Clubs “14ers.com”, Jerry Roach’s excellent guide book
with very clearcut maps and text, or the usual sources like Summitpost
, Peakbagger etc.. However, for reliability the first 2 are the best and
most helpful. The website gives you timely updates on conditions of roads
and routes. Roach provides incredible insights, wisdom and advice (and
he’s funny) that is otherwise hard to come by in mountaineering
literature. The website gives very detailed, step-by-step directions with
lots of great photos and GPS points. With planning, you can often combine
14ers on a single day, or kick in a 13er or two.
We prefer the month of August to visit. Snow is off
all “non-snow” routes. It can be crowded at some trailheads
and on some trails, so we have almost always chosen more difficult and/or
more out of the way routes. The rating system for difficulty conforms
to our local ratings. However, many of the Class 3-4 routes have poor
rock quality making them feel harder and less safe. Helmets are advised
above Class 2 level. Yes, it tends to rain most every day, usually with
lightning, usually starting after noon, so get going early, move quickly
where you can, and back off if you must. Expect to get wet on descent.
A pack cover is good to have to avoid soaking your stuff through day after
day. I’ve experienced serious whiteouts from fog or snow, often
on descent, so GPS backup is wise to have.
Although I am hard-pressed to think of any climb that
we didn’t thoroughly enjoy, following are a few that we judged remarkable
in some way or another.
1. Long’s Peak. What can I say. It’s an
uber-classic. Beware of several things. There are lots of climbers on
it always, many of whom are not very capable. Rock fall is a very serious
risk in a number of places. Helmets are mandatory. The final slabs (the
Homestretch) below the summit are so polished that they really are 4th
class in difficulty. You’ll see a number of people roping up novices
2. Torrey’s Peak via the Kelso Ridge. This is a really magnificent
rock scramble that is truly Class 4 and quite challenging to route-find.
Rock quality is excellent. You’ll feel gratified (and relieved)
when you hit the top.
3. Quandary Peak. The west ridge route will assure you of solitude plus
a great 4th class challenge. When you top out you’ll be greeted
by 100’s of folks who strolled up from the east (who were lucky
enough to find a parking spot!)
4. Snowmass Mt.. There is no easy way to get back there, but once you
do, you’ll find a delightful Class 2-3 romp up great rock, very
scenic and very deserted. Hint: don’t follow the several usage trails
through steep scree; keep to the solid rock, safer and more fun.
on the best rock
5. Crestone Needle. The upper section involves very pleasant, sustained
Class 3 scrambling on great rock. Descent through same area is confusing
due to numerous cairn lines so you may need to do some 4th class downclimbing.
Since it’s a relatively short route (from high camp) you should
add Crestone Peak on the same day; it’s quite straightforward, and,
of course, very scenic.
up the Needle from Broken Hand Pass
6. Mt. Lindsey. For a thrilling and challenging ridge ascent on great
rock, go up the northwest ridge. We were pleasantly surprised. Descent
via the north slopes on the standard trail is fast on very loose, steep
up the northwest ridge
7. Bierstadt/Evans. For a wonderful loop route, do these starting at Mt.
Spaulding, going counterclockwise. The connector (“Sawtooth”)
ridge to Mt. B a bit tricky to hit, but is well-cairned once on it and,
if on route, stays at Class 3+. Most gratifying was our ability to remain
on the ridgeline all the way to Evans, Class 3, despite a lack of info
whether this was possible.
the Sawtooth Ridge with Mt. Bierstadt in the background
8. Wetterhorn. One of the real classics. Some confusing trail signage.
The last 600’ is the actual rock climb; quite pleasant.
9. Mt. Sneffels. Take the southwest ridge up for an exciting Class 3 romp
on good rock, not too hard to follow. It’s probably best to take
the slope down; it’s obnoxiously loose and steep but fast and basically
Report & Photos by Joel Brewster
TOP 10 REASONS THAT I AM NEVER CLIMBING PICACHO
DEL DIABLO (Peak of the Devil) AGAIN
1. Descending into the "Gorge of Despair",
a 3000' drop to reach our camp
2. Class 3 bouldering with a full pack
3. Some SERIOUS bushwhacking
4 . Running out of water two days in a row!
5 . Did I mention it was HOT?
6 . Thousands of bugs (mostly gnats) on the summit
7 . Re-ascending out of the "Gorge of Despair"
8 . Crazy Mexican drivers and roads
9 . It's a long drive from Las Vegas (12 hours), the second half in Mexico
10 . Crossing the border back into the US is confusing, poorly signed,
and very time-consuming if you accidentally get in the wrong line!
Actually, it was a great adventure of a trip. It had
its ups and downs (quite literally), but was an amazing experience. I
am just not interesting in doing again!
the National Park
full of energy, doing pullups on the teepee near the trailhead
first look at Picacho del Diablo...only a few hundred feet higher, but
in between is a 3000+ ft. drop!
boulder fields with a heavy pack is tough!
reach water at Campo Noche.
ascends the steep slabs on "Wall Street" near the summit.
selfie as the bugs were so bad, we only stayed on the summit for 5 minutes!
gives you some idea how steep summit day was. From camp to summit was
3700' gain in 1.25 miles!
back out of the "Gorge of Despair", negotiating class 3 terrain
mountain took its toll on Jodie's hair.
by Heather Witt
Banana Nut Oatmeal
3/4 quick cooking steel cut oats (such as McCann's
5 minute Irish Oatmeal)
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tblsp. brown sugar
2 tblsp. powdered milk
2-3 tblsp. walnuts or pecans
Dash butter powder (optional)
Mash up bananas and dehydrate. Tear banana leather into small pieces.
Combine all ingredients in a zip top bag.
Pour oatmeal ingredients into a pot, add 1.5-2 cups water and stir.
Heat until boiling. Turn off flame and let sit for 5 minutes. Add
more water/heat as necessary until desired consistency.
Heather and Jose Witt will
be teaching a Backcountry Cooking Class on November 10th
at 7 pm at REI Boca Park. Don't miss it!
MONTHLY BIO FEATURE
Where were you born?
How long have you lived in Las Vegas?
Since 2012 in Henderson
What is your occupation?
I am a chef working on cruise ships around the
How long have you been an LVMC member?
Since April 2014
What is your favorite hike/climb?
Having just completed the NV county highpoints,
I must say Ruby Dome for the States, and Cotopaxi internationally.
What is the most challenging hike/climb you have done?
Day hike of Mount Williamson in the Sierra
How did you get into hiking/climbing?
At early age on family outings in Austria; It's
kind of a tradition to go hiking during school holidays in summer.
What are your hobbies other than hiking/climbing?
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