Monday, January 16, 2017

Colorado Mountaineering is Now on Twitter!

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Sixty Highest Peaks in the Elk Range

Cathedral Peak in the Elk Range of Colorado
Cathedral Peak, the highest 13er in the Elk Range
The Elk Range is one of Colorado's most spectacular. It is home to some of our state's most breathtakingly beautiful (and breathtakingly dangerous) mountains. There are five ranked 14ers in the Elk Range, including some mega-classics like Maroon Peak and Capitol Peak. But there is a bevy of lower, also amazing peaks in this relatively small range. The following list takes a close look at this gem of a range, compiling its sixty highest "ranked" peaks. This covers every peak with over 300' of topographical prominence between 12,878' and 14,265'.

This would be a very focused, yet, impressive list of mountains to climb. The Elk Range is notorious for its rotten rock and treacherous exposure. As a group these peaks have attracted a large number of accidents in the past. The Maroon Bells are the main culprit, though Snowmass Mountain, Capitol Peak, and Thunder Pyramid have had a number of fatalities as well. Tread lightly in this beautiful but deadly range.

There are two class 4 peaks, 13 class 3 peaks, 42 class 2 peaks, and three class 1 peaks on this list.

(Note: elevations are given via the classic and familiar 1929 Sea Level Datum)

Peak Name ElevationRank Difficulty easiest route (YDS)
Castle Peak 14,265' 12 class 2
Maroon Peak 14,156'24 class 3
Capitol Peak 14,130' 29 class 4
Snowmass Mountain 14,092' 31 class 3
Pyramid Peak 14,018'47 class 4
Cathedral Peak 13,943' 62 class 3
"Thunder Pyramid" 13,932' 65 class 3
Hagerman Peak 13,841' 88 class 2
"Castleabra" 13,803' 105 class 2
"Lightning Pyramid" 13,722'137 class 3
“Electric Pass Peak” 13,635' 177 class 2
Point 13,631 13,631' 180 class 3
Clark Peak13,580' 200 class 3
Point 13,550 13,550' 220 class 2
White Rock Mountain  13,540' 224 class 2
Point 13,53713,537' 230 class 2
Treasure Mountain 13,528' 235 class 2
Star Peak 13,521'242 class 2
Keefe Peak 13,516' 245 class 2
Hunter Peak 13,497' 257 class 2
Treasury Mountain13,462' 278class 2
Sleeping Sexton 13,460' 283 class 3
Taylor Peak 13,435'294 class 2
“Siberia Peak” 13,420' 306 class 3
Hilliard Peak 13,409' 313 class 2
White Benchmark 13,401'320 class 2
Precarious Peak 13,380' 332 class 3
“Triangle Peak" 13,380' 335 class 2
Italian Mountain13,378' 337 class 2
Buckskin Benchmark 13,370' 343 class 2
Pearl Mountain 13,362'348 class 2
Malamute Peak13,348' 354 class 2
Point 13,336 13,336' 365 class 2
“Oyster Peak”13,312'383 class 2
Mt. Daly 13,300' 394 class 2
Point 13,260 13,260' 433 class 2
Point 13,24413,244' 444 class 2
Belleview Mountain 13,233' 450 class 2
"Cassi Peak"13,232' 452 class 2
Point 13,216 13,216' 470class 2
Teocalli Mtn 13,208'477 class 1
Point 13,180 13,180' 503 class 2
Point 13,162 13,162'513 class 2
Willoughby Mtn 13,142' 532 class 2
Point 13,140 13,140' 533 class 2
Point 13,062 13,062' 599 class 2
Point 13,060 13,060' 602 class 3
Mount Owen 13,058'603 class 2
Point 13,03913,039' 615 class 3
West Elk Peak 13,035' 617 class 1
Point 13,02013,020'627 class 1
Purple Mountain 12,958' 662 class 2
Mt. Sopris 12,954' 668 class 2
Point 12,942 12,942' 677 class 2
Point 12,940 12,940' 684 class 2
Point 12,934 12,934' 689 class 2
"Trail Rider Peak" 12,931' 695 class 2
Point 12,903 12,903' 712 class 3
Point 12,902 12,902' 714 class 2
“Christiana Peak” 12,878' 733 class 2

RELATED ARTICLES

-The Ranked 14er's
-Centennial Peaks (100 Highest)
-The 200 Highest
-Colorado's Most Prominent Mountains

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Friday, January 13, 2017

14ers Are Dead!

Mount Elbert, Colorado's highest 14er
Mt. Elbert, Colorado's highest (and one of its busiest) mountains
Climbing 14ers is dead. Give up!

What?!? What do you mean? I love climbing Colorado's highest mountains! This hobby is more popular than ever! I have only fifteen more to go before I've stamped every mountain in my 14er passport!

Okay, okay, I still like climbing 14ers, too, and I'm not going to stop climbing them on occasion, but sorry, it's just not impressive anymore to brag over beers that you "climbed" Mt. Elbert. And though your ego may swell to boast about being a 14er "finisher," so many have done it before you, it's just not the same as it was twenty, or even ten, years ago.

Where's the adventure? Where's the skill? The short answer? Not on Colorado's 14ers. Not anymore.

Spoiler alert! The internet (this website inluded) is bursting with beta regarding Colorado's 14ers. There are hundreds of pictures from every angle. Three-thousand word blow-by-blow descriptions that leave nothing to the imagination. Youtube videos that show every move of every crux. You can easily feel like you climbed them all without even leaving the comfort and safety of your living room.

And people just can seem to get enough.

But the adventure of mountaineering, what has always been at the very soul of this beloved pastime, is simply lost when you follow a train of two-hundred others up the slopes of a mountain. The sense of accomplishment from summiting a tall peak is  eliminated by the hoards of flip-flop wearing gumbies (each following an internet map and GPS tracker on their smartphones) swarming around you on the top.

La Plata Peak in Colorado's Sawatch Range
La Plata Peak in the Sawatch Range
It is true, crowds are nothing new and the internet is now several decades old, but the beta age has reached a new apogee that has spoiled nearly everything. Nothing is secret and nothing is sacred.

One of my favorite nearby hot springs, which ten years ago was a refuge of quiet and solitude, is now a veritable circus on a summer day, complete with beer-guzzling party-goers, lawn chairs and thundering music. With the rise of social media, and millions if not billions of websites devoted to every niche you can possibly imagine, things that were once glorious, like summiting 14ers, have lost their prestige. Climbing these popular peaks, like travel blogging and MTV, is dead.

I hate to be cynical and nobody likes a pessimist. So what are we to do? What is the antidote to the death of the Adventure Era? The terrible answer is: I don't know. I'm tired of hearing people telling me "you should have been here in the 70's." I know they're right. But the world has changed. Earth's population has more than doubled in the last 50 years, and the growth hasn't slowed. Imagine what they will say in another 50 years. Maybe there will be paved staircases with handrails all the way to the top of every peak in the state.

But here are some ideas to help us still cultivate this long-lost adventure. And you don't have to travel around the globe to find it. It is still possible right here in our own backyards in the very mountains we have loved into their graves:

1) Pick a random mountain you have never heard of and climb it. 
Don't use google. In fact, don't even go on the internet at all. Use nothing more than a topo map and your own skill. Treat it like a first ascent. Scout the peak for the easiest line and nail it. Sure "Point 12,762" might not have the bragging power of "Capitol Peak," but is bragging really why we climb? (If you answered yes, then I hate to say it but you are NOT really a mountaineer anyway. Sorry....)

Snowmass Mountain from Geneva Lake
Snowmass Mountain from the backside
2) Climb a 14er by a much harder, non-standard line 
Everyone and their dog (literally) climbs routes like the Keyhole Route on Longs Peak. Go and ascend Kiener's instead. It's much more beautiful, much more exhilarating, and you can pop up on the summit plateau on the other side of the peak from everyone else, making you feel (at least for a moment) like a rock star. Several years ago I created a "14ers the Hard Way" list, to provide alternatives to those over-trampled standard routes. I dare you to complete this list!

3) Climb in the winter
Sure it's much harder, sure it's more dangerous, but climbing 14ers in the winter adds such a significant bump in the hero factor that you can feel like an actual mountaineer once again. You will see these peaks for what they are: impressive, beautiful and majestic. They deserve this reputation. And you deserve to experience them this way.

There it is. I said it. It's done. Climbing 14ers is no longer adventure, it's no longer heroic. It's a cliche. But there is hope, and you can be part of the solution.

RELATED ARTICLES
-14ers the Hard Way
-The Future of Climbing and Mountaineering
-Ten Mountains You've Probably Haven't Climbed But Should

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