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Three Steps to Fourteener (14er) Fun


If you live in Colorado, it is likely that you have at least heard of The Fourteeners (14ers).  The 14ers are the 52-54 (depending on how you classify them) mountain peaks that are over 14,000ft in elevation.  Having heard of these high peaks, you have probably considered hiking them. Whether you immediately dismissed it as something for wackos who lack a basic sense of self preservation, or if you thought that you may want to one day get to the top of at least one, you have probably thought about it.

At first, hiking a 14er may seem like a daunting and frightening challenge, and to be blunt, there are good reasons to feel this way.  Hiking a 14er is not like going for a quick hike in the foothills; you cannot simply go out on a whim and have a safe, successful, enjoyable experience.  First off, the routes to the tops of these 14,000ft behemoths are usually longer than a typical day hike; few routes are shorter than 5 miles.  Not only are they longer, but the terrain you will typically encounter is more rugged.  Then you have to take into consideration the fact that most of the hike will be at a high elevation.

It is not my intent to scare anyone off of hiking a 14er.  In fact, it is just the opposite: I want to convince you that with a little work on the front end, you can do something you will remember for the rest of your life.  It is true that there are unique and real challenges to summiting one of these famed peaks, and it is much better to recognize what these are and plan accordingly rather than show up in a newspaper as another grateful recipient of a search and rescue operation. You can hike a 14er, and you can have an absolute blast doing it.