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How To Hike A 14er, A Rough Beginner's Guide

Posted on June 30, 2015 by Adam Sikorski

By Adam Sikorski and Kevin Fixler

 "Awww, I have always wanted to do that." Or, "That is definitely on my summer bucket list."

Common replies to the now-popular Colorado pastime of trekking up one of the state’s 54* “14ers,” or – to you non-residents – mountains that eclipse 14,000 feet in elevation. In recent years, more and more daring and intrepid people looking to join the club have tried their hand, to notable success, at besting these local geographical wonders.

Still, upon becoming aware of the hobby, many are utterly dumbfounded, immediately inquiring why ever one would take on such a feat. What could possibly make the endeavor either meaningful or worthwhile?

“Because it’s there,” British mountaineer George Mallory told The New York Times of Mt. Everest in 1924.

Beyond the tough challenge and subsequent sense of accomplishment one feels in heading up the hills, to go along with the otherwise unachievable views, it’s the fundamental spirit of adventure within each and every one of us, even if it is buried to varying depths.

The Colorado 14ers are by no means Everest, the earth’s tallest crag, nor are they (thankfully!) as treacherous. And despite Mallory perishing on his third bid to summit the peak, his point still resonates. So for those interested in giving it a go and attempting this formidable, but attainable, undertaking here’s a beginner’s guide to enjoying and knocking off the state’s gorgeous peaks.

Before saying much of anything here, it should be stated that there is no substitute for an experienced guide. A friend who has previously taken on the peak you are attempting would be best. A close second would be an acquaintance who has at least hiked a 14er before, but not necessarily the one in which you are hiking. This individual can still shed some light on various situations you will encounter and be an indispensable learning tool. And if you find neither of these attainable, which would make sense given that you're reading this, we cannot stress enough what a valuable resource the information provided at 14ers.com can be. There you will find maps, route guides, directions to the trailhead, and even recent condition reports for every peak in the state from hikers within their extremely giving and active community. We do not attempt a new peak without consulting this website prior to our trip.

Now that you have decided you want the glory, the struggle, and the windy peak selfies that come with conquering your first 14er, you'll need to decide which mountain you are actually going to attempt.

The most straightforward 14ers are commonly referred to as “walk-ups” because they require no specific skills besides just handling the altitude gain and strolling up a well-maintained and obvious dirt path. These trails are ranked Class 1 or 2 (of 5) and generally considered “easy.” Take that with a grain of salt though, as every ascent seems to come with its own unique set of quirks and complications, be it self-inflicted (too much firewater or not enough sleep the night prior, forgetting the sunscreen, or ill-fitting gear), or naturally occurring (storms rolling in, too hot/cold, slippery rocks). We’ll get to more on negating these potential hangups in a moment, but first, where to begin.

*There are technically as many as 60 peaks of 14,000 feet or higher in Colorado, but various resources still cite the numbers 53, 54, 55 or 58 for different reasons, the primary one being that some peaks are known as “uncountables” because they do not meet the required 300 vertical feet between the saddle, or the pass connecting two adjacent mountains. For our purposes, we’re operating with the popularly accepted number of 54. (Source: http://www.14erfanclub.com/List-of-Colorado-s-14ers.html)

Though it’s technically considered a Class 2, the peak I always try to hike first each year, up which I also like to take interested newbies, is Mt. Sherman (14,036’), located about a two-hour drive west from Denver on U.S. 285. Although not as accessible or quite as popular as, say, Mt. Bierstadt (14,060’), which is approximately one-and-a-half hours from the state capital, it’s a quality warm-up hike for the more experienced, includes a landscape of old mining ruins along the way, and measures in at only 5.25 miles roundtrip and 2,100 feet of elevation gain following the standard route. Moreover, better to delay attempting Bierstadt until you’re confident and prepared enough to try the combination Class 3 route that includes the Sawtooth and Mt. Evans (14,264’). On top of that, if you set out for Sherman early enough in the summer, bring some snow pants because remnant snow allows for safely glissading, or sliding down portions of the descent, as if tobogganing down a raised hill on your bum. It’s an excellent annual tradition to kick off the warm weather 14er season.

There are several other nearby, entry-level hikes to consider (aside from Bierstadt, which is almost always overcrowded because of its proximity from Denver, especially on the weekend) when mapping out your initial hikes:

-The well-traversed terrain of Grays (Class 1 – 14,270’) and Torreys (Class 2 – 14,267’) Peaks are a good starter. The duo are often completed together in one day at 8.5 miles roundtrip, but that requires a higher clearance vehicle (or hitchhiking from lower parking, which is common) to begin closer to the trailhead and avoid additional distance on foot. Like Bierstadt and Evans, the pair are located in the Front Range and a little more than an hour drive from Denver, and the hike can be made in six hours total up and back to the car.

-The other four peaks (aside from Sherman) that make up the Mosquito Range, Mts. Democrat (14,148’), Cameron (14,238’), Lincoln (14,286’) and Bross (14,172’), are – believe it not – all gettable in a single morning, and also ripe for tenderfoots. The Decalibron Loop, as it’s known, drawing its title from the first couple letters of the names of each peak, is a Class 2, 7.25-mile trip located a mere two hours from Denver. Perhaps more importantly to some, in somewhere around six total hours, it provides the opportunity for quickly jumping from a still wet-behind-the-ears greenhorn to a certified peak-bagging hardass with four 14ers under your belt. The jaunt past and ensuing view from higher ground of Kite Lake (yes, it actually looks like a kite) furthermore makes for lovely scenery. Note: Mt. Cameron, while above 14,000 feet, is not included on the list of 54 peaks because it does not drop far enough down between Democrat and Lincoln. Oh, formalities ...

-Quandary Peak (14,265’), the lone 14,000-foot member of the Tenmile Range is set about an hour-and-a-half from Denver, not far from the favored ski town of Breckenridge in Summit County. While there is a bit of a sharp incline toward the final ascent coupled with a noticeable total elevation gain of 3,450 feet, it’s a short Class 1, 6.75-mile roundtrip with a very clearcut trail on the standard East Ridge route. For the most part, it’s a casual, satisfying day trip where running into some friendly mountain goats who are used to seeing people is a frequent and fun experience.

Now, before you get stretching and lacing up your hikers, it’s time to plan appropriately. As mentioned, a quick visit over to 14ers.com is about as good as you can do for researching information about each hike, but here are some other helpful tips to take into mind. Hiking 14ers, like skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, is an early bird-type activity. If you plan to summit, rather than just hike up to treeline (ordinarily around 12,000 feet), it is essential that you beat the all-too-common afternoon thunderstorms, which with them comes the danger of lightning and the very real risk of being struck by said lightning. There are certainly days where storms do not materialize and spending time near the top of the hill well past 2 or3 p.m. is possible, but it’s best to prepare for the worst, planning to instead have summited by 11 a.m.-ish and back below treeline – where there are objects taller than you in case of lightning – by the noon hour. Hiking 14ers is fun, but it’s not worth your life. Be smart, friends. So how the heck are you going to know the way? Good question. Aside from doing your research and bringing a printout of the route before arriving to the trailhead, the path will be fairly distinguishable. Rock piles, known as cairns, otherwise act as markers to keep you on trail. They’re usually pretty frequent, well maintained and easy to spot. Should you still get lost, there will no doubt be other hikers out and giving a friendly hello as well as asking for directions (or following behind) is totally acceptable. Of course, when in doubt, you can always retrace your steps to the most recent cairn or point of reference and try to relocate the path. Note: It is never a good idea to "just hike up" or "just straight down," as this often does not lead to a peak's summit or trailhead, nor does it help avoid additional human impact with off-trail erosion and protecting nearby wildlife habitat.

As for items to pack while you are on your voyage, at least a small backpack is quite helpful. Now before you begin, you’ll want to lather up with sunblock, wear sturdy, comfortable shoes (hiking boots are not necessarily mandatory), and have plenty of water to avoid dehydration. People much smarter than me suggest between 2.2 and 3 liters, or approximately 75 to 100 ounces, of water per day depending on amount of exertion and your physical size. A CamelBak and products like it usually store between 50 and 100 ounces, so that’s a convenient way to get your daily intake. A water filter and/or iodine tablets are also a choice item to have for procuring nearby water in case of an emergency. A hat, gloves and sunglasses are nice additions, and bring plenty of layers of clothing because you’ll likely end up adding and shedding clothes throughout the day. Unforeseen changes in weather are customary, even potential snow in July, so a thermal as a base is comfy and an outer, water-resistant shell can be fairly crucial.

Next, definitely gotta stay charged, so don’t forget the snacks, if not a full lunch for when you reach the apex. A little toilet paper isn’t a bad idea because you never know when nature might call, and some survival odds and ends like a pocket knife, matches and a first-aid kit are also generally recommended. Completely optional, but favored by many, a flask of your spirit of choice or a coupla cold ones enjoyed in celebratory splendor at the top of the hill is a practice worth getting in on. Nothing quite like sipping an adult beverage at altitude. Last, bring a friend. Hiking is pleasurable regardless, but better to play it safe with a hiking buddy, plus introducing another human to the fulfillment of the outdoors should be an objective anyway.

Following the crowning achievement of reaching the summit, you will almost undoubtedly, short of your private helicopter showing up, be faced with the task of climbing down the mountain. Though it may in fact be "all downhill from here" in the spot you find yourself, the descent does not come without its challenges. First, don't get lost. Things tend to look quite different on the way down than they did going up and exhaustion can allow confusion and doubt to take hold. Following the trail and the same directional cues that were mentioned earlier should ensure one does not lose the way. For whatever reason, we find that rocks tend to be a bit more slippery on the downslope. Keep bent knees and consider your steps when encountering scree (areas of loose, small rocks) and boulder fields. A good hiking pole or poles can help prevent a spill or twisted ankle. The way back always seems to be a little bit longer than expected, so plan out your water, food, and energy levels accordingly.

Getting back to your car, you will be even more self-satisfied if you have left yourself an extra pair of shoes or sandals, clean socks (we'd say not to combine these with the sandals, but hey, live free), and some additional water and snacks.

Great! You've done it. Once you’ve checked off your first 14er – a mental hurdle as much as a physical one – you’ll be well on your way to planning future excursions and unable to prevent the habit-forming experience from becoming a total addiction. With each peak accomplished on your list, you’ll come to more fully perceive and appreciate the words of the late, great Kiwi Sir Edmund Hillary, who of course was the first confirmed climber to stand atop Everest, when he postulated, “It is not the mountains we conquer, but ourselves."

-Easier peaks, weather, TOD, pack list, trailhead info (14ers.com/CFI)

https://www.colorado.com/articles/what-are-14ers

http://climbing.about.com/od/mountainclimbing/a/Fourteeners1.htm

http://www.denverdavis.com/hikes/14er_info

http://www.denverpost.com/ci_18050673

http://www.examiner.com/article/hiking-101-what-do-i-need-to-climb-a-14er

http://www.14ers.com/safety.php

Easiest Routes: http://www.14ers.com/recolist.php

Custom Denim Jacket #2

Posted on March 09, 2015 by Adam Sikorski

Here is the second custom denim jacket we're releasing today. This one is a little bit more straightforward with classic indigo dye, a three mountain patch on the sleeve, and an arrowhead patch on the back. Also comes with a vintage Coors can pin and our new skyline pin as well. Same woven vintage fabric trim on the back, but unlike the acid wash jacket, this one does not have it on the sleeve cuff. Finishes off with a couple of pins and the new Banner Mountain design printed on the back in red. This jacket is one of a kind and will not be reproduced, so if you're into things that no one else is going to have, and are a size medium, this might be the spring jacket for you. 

Custom Denim Jacket #1

Posted on March 09, 2015 by Adam Sikorski

So, check it out. I had these custom USA made jackets put together with our new Banner Mountain logo printed on the back, some of our patches, and some pretty special custom detailing as well. I'm really into this acid wash one, and even kind of hoping it doesn't sell so I can adopt it myself. I'm a big fan of jean jackets and vests, patches, 80's looks and all of that. This one comes with a vintage coors can lapel pin and our new skyline pin as well, plus our official camper and arrowhead patches. Additionally I had some vintage woven fabric trim put on the back and the one cuff. I've never seen this done before, but I think it works really well. Plus I actually acquired this particular trim from my former crafty roommate Taylor, she was moving out and having a yard sale, so I swooped it. Good history to this jacket. Then I did the hand done lettering on the inside as a final touch, it made me feel like I was in 8th grade again. There is only one of these and we'll never release one of these that is the exact same again. Hope you like it.

 

One Year on the Fax!

Posted on October 06, 2014 by Adam Sikorski

 

One year ago we opened our doors to our new headquarters and the first ever Coloradical retail location at 3109 E. Colfax Avenue in Denver. It took about six months and a lot of long work days to rehab the place and transform it to a location where we'd be proud to display our designs. It all seemed a bit crazy at the time, and there was definitely a risk in taking this big step forward. But, I have to say the last year has wildly exceeded our expectations and really just been an awesome time. Operating out of this new spot has allowed us to be face to face with our supporters and exposed our mission to an entire new set of individuals who didn't know about Coloradical before. We've found a neighborhood of people glad to see us call this home, and after a year I think we feel about settled in. There's work to be done, as there always will be, but I'm just really happy how far this has all come and look on to the future with wide eyes.

So, in celebration of one year on Colfax we will be offering 20% off of everything in the store all day this Saturday and having a bit of a party from 6-10. And, you're invited. There will be some super limited edition releases (Like stuff I hand printed myself in my own garage that there will only ever be six of), foosball, new hoodies, new hats, and the release of some new shirt designs. Oh, and free beer too. 

I hope you can make it down. I can't say thank you enough for all of your support and being a part of this.

New MIZU x Coloradical Collaboration

Posted on June 08, 2014 by Adam Sikorski

We are proud to announce our newest addition to our line of accessories, the MIZU x Coloradical Stainless Steel Water Bottle. And frankly, this water bottle is awesome. It's health conscious, eco conscious, and long term friendly on the wallet.

Unlike many other plastic and aluminum water bottle brands who claim to be BPA free, MIZU is 100% food grade stainless steel, and only that. Even if those other guys are BPA free, who knows what else might be in there. With stainless steel, no chemicals can migrate to your beverage, not the case with plastic and aluminum. It's easy to sanitize and corrosion resistant.

Every year 50 billion plastic beverage containers are produced worldwide and only 1 in 10 of these is ever recycled. The rest of these bottles are polluting our oceans and piling up our landfills. Not cool. These plastics are working their way into our own food chain, especially the ocean, and doing god knows what to our bodies. Disposable plastic water bottles are not a lasting plan for the world's water needs, and it's a program that should be avoided as best as possible by each and every one of us. Each year, North America recycles more steel than all plastics combined, and an average of 25% of the steel in every Mizu bottle used to be something else, like a refrigerator or a Samurai sword

The other cool thing about water bottle usage is that it makes your water practically free.Tap water costs about $.0015/gallon, whereas bottled water costs $10.00/gallon. That's more than double the cost of gasoline. Bottom line, bottled water is for suckers and 40% of it comes from taps anyway. The average US consumer uses 234 water bottles per year costing on average $346 in total. That's money that could be spent on cool stuff and good times. This bottle costs $22 and comes with a lifetime warrantee from MIZU.

So untwist a top and reach for the sink, with the tap water connoisseur's bottle of choice, the MIZU x Coloradical 27 oz. stainless steel water bottle. 

Im case you waited too long...

Posted on December 23, 2013 by Adam Sikorski

Coloradical has reached the apex of the earth. Well, sort of.

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Adam Sikorski

Scott Rogers, who works in Ft. Collins at Wire Stone, a digital marketing and social media firm, traveled to Nepal with his wife Amy in mid-October to summit the Mt. Everest Base Camp, a massive 17,598 feet up. That’s more than 3,000 feet higher than Colorado’s tallest 14er, Mt. Elbert at a still impressive 14,440. In tow, he brought one of our brand staples, the original flag tee in order to show some Colorado love along the way.

“I wore it on multiple days up there because you can only carry so much gear, and other people on the trail would see the Colorado shirt and it was great,” he says. “They’d say, ‘Hey, are you from Colorado?’ ‘Yeah, yeah.’ There are a few Coloradans up there.”

The excursion, which Scott and his wife undertook with another couple from Colorado who they had previously met on a previous trip to Peru, was planned and booked 18 months out. That way they could appropriately train for the thin air trek to the foot of Everest, a gain of more than 8,000 vertical feet over about eight days from Lukla (elevation of 9,383 feet), a small town in northeastern Nepal that acts as the starting point. One doesn’t simply hike it all in one day though, but rather between 1,000 and 1,500 feet each day, setting up camp for a couple nights before continuing up in order to acclimate appropriately and avoid illness. At 14,000 feet, Scott says you noticed the elevation, but it was at 17,000, which the band of hikers only reached for one day, it definitely hit.

“You’re tired, it’s cold, you’re lightheaded,” he says. “A number of people were getting altitude sickness, and not everybody in our group made it to the base camp, and all of us were definitely feeling the effects of going there and coming back.”

So how did Scott and Amy prepare for the difficulties the summit brought? In fact, there’s no better place to do so than right here in our lovely state.

“We were talking to one of the guys at REI who runs a Nepal tour,” Scott explains, “we’re saying, ‘What kind of training can we do for this?’ And certainly he said do the Colorado 14ers.”

As it turns out, not everything could be anticipated.

“I ended up getting pneumonia on the trip,” he adds with a slightly gravelly intonation. “You can tell from my voice I’m still recovering a little bit from this. But I blame some of that just on the long airline flights to get home.

“The other thing on this trip that was a shock to us was just the sleep, because it gets hard at higher altitudes. So you’re not getting much sleep at night, it’s cold, you’re sleeping in strange places, and you’re eating food you’re not normally used to. The combination of that really makes it more of a challenge.”

The Rogers’ adventure represents a lot of what we firmly believe in here at Coloradical. It’s really all about being around those you care about most, getting outdoors, traveling around, and having good times. Sure, getting to the peak of Everest is quite a feat, but summiting its base camp is obviously a notable accomplishment unto itself, and we’re proud to have played even a small part in their trip. So long as you’re out there enjoying the experience with your friends and family, the journey is the destination.

Scott, who is originally from Tennessee, but has lived in Colorado since 1992 after finishing college in Wyoming, is outdoorsy outside of just hiking. He and Amy also enjoy biking, snowboarding and camping around our great state, and others. They still make it up to our neighbors to the north every year to camp at Yellowstone National Park, where they first met.

After the Nepalese expedition, Scott and Amy next traveled to the southwestern beaches of Goa, India to spend a week relaxing and recovering from the exhaustion before returning to Colorado in early-November. “We figured after so many days on the trail,” he says, “we’d want something a little more relaxing.”

The couple is happy to be back in Colorado having represented the state abroad.

“You know, now people say, ‘Now you can do 14ers easy.’ Well, no, not necessarily. It’s still a shock to your system. And the way your body reacts each time is different. A lot of times, especially when you leave from Ft. Collins, you’re starting at 6,000, 5,000 feet, and go do a 14er in a day and come home. I mean, that’s a big gain, that’s 9,000 feet, in one day. At least on this trip, you were gaining, at most, 2,500 feet in a single day. So you had more time to acclimate. In some ways, it was easier.”

Friends. Mountains. Love. Radness.

Return To The Earth

Posted on November 25, 2013 by Adam Sikorski

On Saturday, Dec. 7, Coloradical will host "Return To The Earth," a one-night only showing of the new ceramic work of Neil Celani. I'm extremely proud to display and just be a part of this exhibition, as Neil has been one of my closest friends since we met in the ceramics department in college years ago. Much of this recently created body of work is inspired by the sights and experiences of our travels and getting weird in the desert this last summer, including the Great Sand Dunes, Moab and Burning Man. Where after the completion of our schooling I went the way of the tee, Neil has maintained an active dedication to his craft and grown to become one of the foremost ceramic talents in the region. To eat or drink using one of his functional pieces elevates a simple act of consumption to that of a pleasure-filled experience. Drinking your morning coffee is a completely different ritual when it's in a handmade vessel produced with care and love. I would be remiss if I did not note that it is the holiday season and Neil's work makes an excellent and unique, hand-crafted present.

To coincide with the event, I'll be releasing about five new Coloradical shirt designs, a couple of which are going to be produced in extremely limited quantities, with this as your first chance to score one. We will have some drinks flowing and smooth tunes, so drop by to see what's going on, and maybe take care of some holiday shopping while you're at it. Hope you can make it.

Party goes 6-10 p.m. here at Coloradical: 3109 E. Colfax Ave. in Denver.

Here are some pictures of Neil's work:

 

Our New Storefront Opens This Saturday!

Posted on October 08, 2013 by Adam Sikorski

Hey Guys,

Sorry for the lack of posts recently. Truth be told, it has been an insanely crazy Summer of travels and on top of that I have been custom building out a new home for Coloradical. This is a massive step for the brand that will take it to whole new levels of rad (assuming that is possible). The new location will allow for the production of more limited edition products, designs and colorways plus will be able to host release parties, art shows, and whatever other kooky ideas we come up with along the way. It's going to be fun and it's going to give Coloradical fans an excellent experience. I look forward to years of good times with you to come. Here are the details for the Grand Opening:

After much hard work and some pretty fun design time, the new Coloradical storefront is finally ready to open it's doors. So, we'll be doing that in style this Saturday October 12th from 6-11 pm. The evening will feature the release of several new designs and limited colorways, prize drawings, good tunes, a bit of free stuff for everyone, and free beer provided by New Belgium Brewing. 

As a bonus the event will coincide with the annual 3100 block of Colfax 'Block Party'. This means The Shoppe, Big Hairy Monster, and GroundSwell Gallery will all be having art shows and generally be getting down, plus there's a zombie fashion show at 9 outside. Solid right?

I've been grinding away on this spot for the last six months and there's been about 10 years of T-shirt dedication to be reaching this moment. I want to say thank you all for your support, love, and friendship that has allowed this to happen. It would be my honor for you to be my guests. And if you can't make it that night, come by sometime during regular business hours Wednesday through Saturday 11-7.

Cheers,
Adam

Welcome to the New Coloradicalshirts.com!

Posted on July 23, 2013 by Adam Sikorski

We are very proud to say that the new website is up, running, and taking orders. Huge, huge thanks to my friends at Denver's Legwork Studio for the amazing design. And I'd like to thank all the customers, family, friends, and stores who have supported Coloradical along the path. Without all of you guys this would never have happened. So poke around, check out the new layout, and keep living the rad life.

Cheers,
Adam