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tmountainnut

Baggin some 14ers in Colorado

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Recently I did a couple peak bagging trips and I thought I would share some of the experience and some photos too.

My first 14er trip this year was back in early May. After a few weekends of playing around in the desert, i needed some snow and thin air in my life. My friend Karl has aspirations to climb Denali (someday) and wanted me to take him on a trip for his first "winter" 14er, and La Plata Peak was on both of our lists. Its deceptively long as the upper section above treeline is fairly steep.

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Conditions were great, and other than some wind near the summit, the weather was great too.

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A few weeks later in June, I decided I needed to get my mountain legs into shape for the summer and for climbing Rainier in July. Karl was up for doing another mountain, and we picked a "twofer". Shavano and Tabagauche are connected by a ridge, so it's fairly easy to do both in a day. We headed up the night prior, and knocked them both out the next morning in a little over 8 hours.

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Since I was training, I wanted to get in another that same weekend, but something easier at a relaxed pace. One of my old co-workers is always up for a 14ers once or twice a year, and he wanted to invite his cousin who had never hiked at altitude before. We decided to do Beirstadt, one of the easiest and closest to denver, and i met them at the trailhead since they decided to pull a "Ted" and sleep in their car at the trailhead overnight to help acclimatize a bit. Everyone made it, even Scrappy the "Jack-a-uahua". It even snowed on us a little during the decent.

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Edited by tmountainnut

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The next weekend, i wanted to push myself a little harder. I found a new climbing partner named Justin that lives in Aspen that had climbed some harder stuff, and seemed to be at my level of fitness if not above, and we made an ambitious plan to do 4 peaks. Uncompaghre, Matterhorn, and Wetterhorn on Saturday, and San Luis on sunday. All of these were further away from Denver, so we met up Friday evening and headed to the Matterhorn Creek Trailhead.

At first light, we were up, and before we knew it, we had the longest leg out of the way and were on the top of Uncompaghre, the tallest peak in the San Juans. After a slightly sketchy decent of the west face, we headed over to Matterhorn, taking a quick lunch break before heading up the 13er. Matterhorn and Wetterhorn are 3rd class climbs, where there is a bit of scrambling, but the rock was fairly solid and enjoyable to cruise up.

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After topping out on Matterhorn, we descended partially and did some cross country travel to meet up with the standard Wetterhorn Trail. The 3rd class climbing on Wetterhorn was fantastic, some of the best scrambling on solid rock I've done. the final section was almost like a staircase build for Titans.

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We were both tired with wet feet, so we headed to Lake City to stay at the hostel there and take a shower. The hostel was full of thru hikers doing the CDT, and we had a few conversations before going to sleep.

The next morning we got up and headed to the San Luis trailhead, where you actually hike a section of the Colorado Trail and the CDT to get to San Luis, one of the most remote 14ers in the state, but a fairly easy slog up talus.

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After hiking back to the car, we headed back towards Buena Vista, enjoying the San Luis valley and views of the Great Sand Dunes, the Crestones, and the Blanca Group. Maybe another day.

Edited by tmountainnut

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Great pics and trip report Ted! Nice to see you're knocking off so many peaks. If I were in better shape, I'd fly out and climb with you. I miss glissading on my butt! Go Phillies!

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Great pics and trip report Ted! Nice to see you're knocking off so many peaks. If I were in better shape, I'd fly out and climb with you. I miss glissading on my butt! Go Phillies!

Thanks. I normally leave 14ers for the shoulder seasons and winter because the crowds tend to be gone, and i prefer to backpack during the summer, but i was needing to get into shape for Rainier, so i figured why not. The crowd at the top of Beirstadt was kinda ridiculous, but otherwise the rest were great.

We didn't see anyone on the Matterhorn, and only two other people on Wetterhorn, and very few people on San Luis. However thats one of the reasons why i like the San Juans. Its far enough from the front range area to keep the crowds down.

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tmountainnut,

Nice pictures. While I try to stay away from the fourteeners in the summer, Matterhorn looks very appealing!

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Amazing photos, thanks for sharing. Looks like a lot of great hiking and climbing!

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Beautiful photos...a couple gave me the willies! Do you ever have any issue with elevation? Headache, loss of appetite?

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Beautiful photos...a couple gave me the willies! Do you ever have any issue with elevation? Headache, loss of appetite?

Thanks :-)

Since 2010 when I started climbing higher stuff more regularly, I've only had mild altitude sickness once, and that was probably due more to how hard i was pushing myself on that particular climb AND the amount of time i spent above 12,500 feet than just altitude on its own. I live ~5600 feet, so that helps. Learning how your body reacts at elevation and adjusting your output so you don't over exert helps a lot, but its not always enough if you're not partially acclimatized.

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I've taken Diamox and dexamethasone at altitude. Also, inappetince, vomiting, headaches - you name it. Unfortunately, it's the price I have to pay for a number of reasons. Acclimation is definitely key, genetics is also a substantial variable.

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There's a chance I'll be climbing something taller than 14,XXX feet later this year, so I'm interested how i can handle it with the same type of acclimatization i do for the mountains around Colorado and no drugs like diamox or dex....

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