Hiking Colorado’s 14ers
In March of 2014, I loaded my car in front of my house in Texas with what whatever would fit plus two cats.
We were moving to the mountains and I had high hopes of becoming a mountaineer. After coming on board as a social media intern for Outdoor Women’s Alliance, I really got inspired by what women in that community were doing. They were constantly outside, hiking, skiing, camping and living an adventurous life. I decided I wanted that more than I wanted anything Texas could offer.
Within my first two weeks in Colorado, I hiked the 1st Flatiron in Boulder, which was a hellish hike for a freshly-displaced-flatlander, still adjusting to the change in altitude. (Texas was at 500 ft above sea-level; Boulder is just around 5400 ft).
After two months in Colorado, I hiked about 8 or so peaks below 10k feet. I started to learn how to pack for a hike, how important the type of food I ate was, why spending a little money on good hiking boots mattered, and how incredibly essential is was to always keep extra water and camping supplies in your car — just in case. You know, the basics everyone living in a mountain-state knows. I felt like I was finally ready to tackle the 14ers.
In June, I hiked my first two 14ers: Gray’s and Torrey’s. These two are fantastic for first-timers. They are short enough and don’t require any technical moves. Plus, you get to hike two peaks for the price of one, if you’re an avid 14er-collector, like myself!
Since June, I now have 11 14ers under my belt. My favorite has been Quandary, which was my first solo-hike. The views from that peak are simply incredible. Well, the views from any of the 14ers are incredible.
So what’s next? I have not yet climbed anything this winter because I need to educate myself first. The last thing I want is to be another news story, having perished in an avalanche or died of hypothermia.
I’ve signed up for some basic mountaineering courses at Colorado Mountain Club and have found some awesome ladies to join me in the backcountry. (I’m also up for dudes joining me, just have not run across any yet).
I’m excited to take classes the CMC because I get to learn the basics: compass and map skills, anchoring skills and ice climbing.
Also, one thing for anyone out there wanting to be a mountaineer: you can if you want to. I am 29, and just now getting started, which is ok. At first, I thought I was too old to try something new, but then I realized how silly that idea was and jumped right in.
I want to climb mountains in every part of the world, and Colorado’s 14ers have been an amazing place for me to start to learn. There is every type of obstacle out there waiting. The key is to take smart risks, educate yourself and have fun!