Friday, September 13, 2013
So you want to climb 14ers?
There's also psychological factors, which effect some people more than others. This mostly includes fear of heights, which is related to exposure. Some 14er route are not exposed, but may take you close to areas that do have exposure.
To climb a 14er the most important thing is cardiovascular fitness. Strength and Balance can be helpful, but cardio trumps all. I'll talk about this more later.
This is going to vary based on what 14er you are looking at.
1) A decent pair of closed-toed shoes, running shoes are okay for about 1/2 of the 14ers. Light hikers are nice as well.
2) A water bladder. I like Platypus, but Camelback is good, and there are others. One that holds 3L is preferred, you can always take less if need be. You can also use water bottles if that is what you prefer. Some people like to re-use gatorade bottles because they are cheap, light, and fairly durable.
3) A decent backpack. Depending on what mountain you do, 20-30 liters is big enough for most dayhikes. It needs to be able to hold your water bladder, clothing, snacks, and essentials.
4) Synthetic clothing. This is generally going to be polyester or nylon. Beathable, non-binding, allowing for free movement. No cotton! The phrase "cotton kills" exists for a reason, it performs poorly when it becomes wet.
5) Appropriate snacks. I like Clif Shot Blocks, or Powerbar Gel, or something designed to provide energy on the go. For the summit, something packed with calories.
Congrats, you have the most BASIC items needed for the easiest dayhike 14ers. As you move to the more complicated ones, more specialized equipment will be necessary, especially when you start backpacking and camping overnight.
Knowlege is power. You need information for a successful summit. I recommend you check out 14ers.com before climbing any 14er. You need to know where the trailhead is and how to get there, what the route is called, and how far/long it is, at a minimum. Some routes are well defined all the way (Handies, Huron, Pikes) and some are difficult to follow (N Maroon, Pyramid). I also highly recommend that you leave a record to someone of 1) where you are going 2) when you expect to be done 3) what the phone number is for the county sherrif in that area. With accurate information, a search party could be quickly and effectively dispatched at the earliest possible time (if need be). Without accurate and detailed information, it would become difficult or impossible to direct and effective search.
Imagine this scenario. You expect someone to return, but they have not. Where did they go? How do you narrow it down? When did they think they would be back? What route did they take?
You also need to understand and embrace the idea of LEAVE NO TRACE.
You need the drive and motivation to find the summit. When it's freezing cold, windy, and you are tired, it takes some guts to keep moving upward. It's not always a picnic on a 14er hike, and adverse conditions can be expected. When life puts a big pothole in the road, do you plow through it, or slam on the brakes and turn around? Climbing a 14er can be similar to your mental state while running. Your body is suggesting that stopping to walk would be easier, and more comfortable. You have to will yourself to continue; which is why I think running is great physical AND mental training.