Photo: shattuck311

14ers to Climb Before You Die

Colorado Student Work Outdoor Hiking
by Brian Lewis Dec 17, 2015

1. Mount Elbert — 14,433’

Coloradical #MtElbert

A photo posted by Ben Rubio (@pequena_tortuga) on

It’s the highest. You sort of have to do it.

2. Mount of the Holy Cross (Halo Ridge Route) — 14,005’

Celebrating 2 years in CO 💛❤️💙 Can’t beat that summit smile!!! 😀 #MtHolyCross #MimosaMonday #StaySteezy #BlueSkiesandHighFives

A photo posted by @jessicagillespie on

Holy Cross is arguably the most scenic of the Sawatch Fourteeners and the Halo Ridge is a big reason why. It’s definitely a long day out and shouldn’t be attempted if there’s any threat of bad weather.

Before the final payout, you’ll have to scramble on boulders over three 13er summits and your quads will likely despise you. But seeing the sunrise from the ridge near the Notch Mountain Shelter ranks pretty high in my list of #travelstoke moments.

3. Quandary Peak (in Winter) — 14,265’

Quandary is invariably the canned response to at least ten thousand online forum requests asking which Fourteener would be a good intro to winter climbing. It has a plowed trailhead off a major highway; its popularity usually ensures a well-broken trail; and it’s a safe route with minimal avalanche danger. Plus you’ll probably get to hang with some mountain goats. What’s not to like?

4. Pikes Peak — 14,110’

Somewhere on #barrtrail #pikespeak @pikespeakalpineschool #pikespeakalpineschool

A photo posted by Pete Lardy (@pete_lardy) on

Sure it’s crowded…as in the second most visited mountain in the world kind of crowded. But where else can you bag a summit then getting in line for a donut at the gift shop behind an overweight Texan struggling to breath? “Hey Martha, this fella says he hiked up here!”

If that sounds too tame, consider summiting via the Pikes Peak Ascent, a half-marathon from Manitou Springs to the summit, with over 7,800 feet of gain. Not tame, my friends (trust me).

5. Mount Princeton — 14,197’

COLORADO, WHAT EVEN! I finally got to summit the infamous Mount Princeton [ 14,197 ft ] & it, as only fourteeners can do, blew my mind & gave me always need perspective! This is home. #nailedit #lifeasagerberich #blessedbythebest #aussiepride #coloradogirl #coloradophotography #mountprinceton #globelletravels #livingthedream #coloradofourteeners #darlingescapes #optoutside #internationalmountainday #rei1440project #wildernessculture

A photo posted by Heidi (@_heidi.g) on

Because you always remember your first. And even though it’s a somewhat unremarkable Sawatch slog, it looks so damn aesthetic and symmetrical from Buena Vista. It practically begs you to climb it.

6. The Decalibron (Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross)

A little windy at the top. Crushed four 14ers today. #DeCaLiBron #14ers

A photo posted by Allison Meier (@ameier87) on

If you’re short on time and like to check things off lists, you can’t get any more efficient than the Decalibron. You’ll bag three fourteeners (four if you count the ‘unofficial’ Cameron) in a relatively easy loop from Kite Lake on your way to a 7.25-mile outing with 3,700 feet of gain. Most people go clockwise, climbing Democrat first. You also may consider packing a surfboard for the screen descent off Bross.

7. Maroon Bells — Maroon Peak (14,156’) and North Maroon Peak (14,014’)

Can’t wait to go back #MaroonPeak

A photo posted by Ben Ervin 🎿👣🗻 (@benjamin_ervin) on

Probably the most photographed mountains in the state — take a look at your King Soopers Card if you ever forget what it looks like. But don’t let the hoards of tourists at Maroon Lake fool you — venturing up into their heights are a serious endeavor. The Bells hold some of the most difficult climbing and crumbiest rock of any Fourteener and the Bells Traverse is considered by many as the toughest Fourteener traverse in the state.

8. Crestone Needle — 14,197’

The closest you can get to Mordor without leaving Colorado.

9. Mount Sneffles — 14,150’

Sneffles is an iconic peak that lords over the San Juan Range and becomes the focal point for many a photographer looking to capture the magic at the Dallas Divide. Climbing its standard route involves a foray into the Yankee Boy Basin, which is not only fun to say, it also holds some of the most beautiful scenery in this less-visited corner of the state.

10. Longs Peak — 14,255’

Longs is a ridiculously cool-looking mountain that can be seen from pretty much anywhere on the northern Front Range so you’ve no doubt thought about climbing it while stuck in traffic on I-25. Putting that plan into action though, requires a long 15-mile day, a bit of class 3 scrambling and solid nerves to deal with some serious exposure. And that’s on the “easy” route.

11. Windom Peak — 14,082’

Wait, I can start my Fourteener approach by way of a 19th-century steam engine? You’ll be the biggest badass on the train when you grab your pack and hop off in the middle of nowhere at Needleton — disappearing into the forest as the tourists bound for Silverton wonder where the hell you’re headed. The answer is the Chicago Basin, or as close to paradise as one can find in all of Colorado.

12. Capitol Peak — 14,130’

The reason why many people save this one for last can be summarized in two words: Knife edge. Better YouTube that before you commit to this peak. Especially if you don’t want that whole “climbs to do before you die” thing to become a reality.

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